By Alex Muhumuza
The wife of a Rwandan citizen Jean Baptiste Kanyengoga – recently slandered in sections of Ugandan propaganda outlets as “a notorious thug” – has come out to say her husband is a law-abiding citizen who was in Uganda on business when they abducted him.
Kanyengoga has been running a successful business repairing electronics goods both in Musanze and Kisoro. Bagirishya Cecile said that earlier this week, Monday 3 June, “all of a sudden her husband found himself in serious trouble while in Kisoro, when he was arrested with no charges, no arrest warrants or any other legal procedure.
The following day one of the CMI, Uganda military intelligence-controlled websites and Twitter accounts, CommandPost assigned itself the role of prosecutor and judge and declared that police in Kisoro “had arrested a notorious Rwandan thug.” That was before a single court appearance of Kanyengoga, and without a single reading of charges.
“The treatment of this Rwandan citizen by Kisoro Police in that manner is very similar to the harassment countless Rwandan nationals have suffered in Uganda,” said a source from the border community in Musanze.
Cecile and her husband – who is currently illegally detained by Kisoro Police – are long-time residents of the town. Naturally, as with all border communities, people there have been carrying out cross-border trade, with Ugandans entering Rwanda freely and the other way round. Things were like that until very recently when the Museveni regime became actively hostile to Rwandans, according to people.
Kanyengoga is a skilled repairman and technician of electronic equipment like phones, TVs, fridges and others. He has been partnering with a Ugandan in their business, both benefitting from customers in communities from both sides of the border. Up to very recently Bagirishya had a restaurant in Kisoro. They worked in both countries but lived in Rwanda, a very common occurrence for border town residents. There are many Ugandans that do the same in Rwanda.
With the recent strong travel advisory by Rwandan authorities against citizens crossing to Uganda, Bagirishya closed her restaurant in Kisoro. But because Kanyengoga had to keep working to support the family he continued his cross-border trade, work he did every Monday and Thursday, until his terrible misfortune.
His wife and all his friends are in no doubt that this honest, law-abiding Rwandan citizen, has fallen victim to the hostility of the Museveni regime; a hostility which it has extended beyond the Rwandan government to ordinary, innocent Rwandan citizens. Most of these even have no idea about politics, according to analysts.
Cecile explains how her husband was arrested and pressured to buy his freedom. According to observers, this extortion is very much in line with the criminality of Ugandan security forces who – taking advantage of Kampala’s anti-Rwanda hostility – also target and victimize Rwandans, with a major goal to rob them of money and property.
After that, they frame them with charges, either that they have “illegally entered” Uganda, or that they are “spies”, or that they were in “illegal possession of weapons”. Now another false charge is entering the picture: “notorious thug!”
When they arrested Kanyengoga they gave him a phone to call his wife. He asked her to get 500,000 Ugandan Shillings, which he would pay as the price for his freedom. At the time of his arrest they confiscated all his money, Frw 200,000 (around 800,000 Shs). But they wanted more before they could release him. She raised the money, but thought it too dangerous to cross into Uganda. What if they abducted her too? Yet they have a child at home.
Her two contacts in Uganda were one gospel singer, and a Rwandan, Thomas Munyemana residing in Kisoro who worked in the same trade as her husband. On the phone the gospel singer confirmed that indeed it was 500,000 Shillings the authorities were asking for. Munyemana was skeptical. He quickly explained to her that Kanyengoga’s hopes for quick release were far-fetched.
Cecile told him that he should go to the police and tell Kanyengoga that she had the money with her. But she never found a way to get the money to her husband’s abductors, realizing that she would not be safe in Uganda. So the Kisoro police paraded her husband with its concocted story, which the CMI mouthpiece CommandPost and others then parroted.
Over the past couple of years, media reports as well as Rwandan authorities have detailed how several Rwandan nationals going to Uganda, or those already living there have suffered persecution at the hands of that regime’s security forces.
Rwandans are arbitrarily arrested and illegally jailed. In CMI torture chambers many are given impossible choices, to either join Kayumba Nyamwasa’s RNC in its enterprise to destabilize Rwanda, or suffer indefinite detention and torture. Kampala has given RNC every possible facilitation, including partnership with CMI as well as use of CMI facilities in its recruitment activities, targeting Rwandan nationals in Uganda for that, victimizing others with torture.
The wife of Jean Baptiste Kanyengoga says she can only kneel and pray to God, and hope her dear husband will survive whatever terrible situation he is facing now.