By Alex Muhumuza
Last Saturday, 7 September, at Cyanika Border Post Ugandan authorities dumped Jean Berchmans Uwingenzi, another Rwandan national that looked emaciated after a period of illegal incarceration and torture in a Ugandan prison.
But the story the 37-year old Uwingenzi perfectly illustrative of the duplicity of the Ugandan leadership when one has heard it through.
Video: Uwingenzi interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oe0PhnIE7no
The recruiters of Kayumba Nyamwasa’s anti-Rwanda group, RNC, are busy as ever in efforts to force – those able-bodied Rwandans that are unfortunate enough to fall into the hands of Ugandan security authorities – to join the rebel group.
The RNC recruiters do so with the full complicity of Ugandan authority, as has been the case for several years now.
According to Uwingenzi, they have not stopped even one bit. He speaks as a credible eyewitness, having been in detention in Ndorwa Government Prison, Kabale, for four months – until last week. He said that even just before he left Uganda on Friday last week, when they dumped him, RNC was still trying to recruit him.
In fact, said Uwingenzi, “the Police station of Kisoro – where he was transported after they released him from Ndorwa – has been nicknamed ‘Kwa Kayumba’ – the place of Kayumba!”
He was emphatic in his interview with members of the press that it means the place of Nyamwasa, a fugitive from the law for acts of terrorism against innocent Rwandans.
Uwingenzi, who is from Rutsiro District, Western Province, disclosed that the attempts to persuade him to join Nyamwasa’s group intensified even a day before he left Uganda. They had just released him from Ndorwa Prison in Kabale, but because he had nowhere to go they had taken him to Kisoro to do some hard labor, before transporting him to Cyanika to dump him.
He said: “While I was digging in an Irish potato garden, I heard someone call me ‘Pastor”! (that is his nickname). When he turned to see who was calling him, he says, he saw it was three people, one of them a person they had gone to secondary school with in Rwanda when they were young.
What are you doing here at Kwa Nyamwasa!?” his former friend asked.
Uwingenzi says he was taken aback. “This is ‘Nyamwasa’s place?,” he says he asked innocently. “Yes,” replied his former friend, who appeared to be an army man in Uganda. He says the latter did his best to entice him to join their group. “We are well paid!” he said. “What do you want to go back to Rwanda for?!”
The mere fact that the Kisoro Police station is nicknamed “Kayumba’s” speaks volumes; it says a good number of Rwandans have been coerced to join the terrorist group from there, analysts pointed out. This is happening even when a joint team of Rwandan and Ugandan officials reportedly are to meet to discuss implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding.
This is the document signed by Presidents Kagame and Museveni on 21 last month, with one of the main clauses specifying that “both parties must refrain from actions conducive to destabilization or subversion in the territory of the other party and neighboring countries.”
It goes on to include, amongst the forbidden acts as, “financing, training and infiltration of destabilizing forces.”
RNC is an anti-Rwanda destabilizing force receiving the full assistance, training and financing of Kampala. These are indisputable facts, ample evidence of which has come up over the past years.
Uganda was supposed to have begun dismantling the RNC networks it works with in the country. Uwingenzi’s testimony reveals the Ugandan president never meant to implement what he agreed to. That was evident when upon returning from Angola the Uganda Communications Commission immediately waged cyber warfare against Rwandan news media.
UCC blocked most major Rwandan news websites. “This revealed Museveni’s intentions of denying Rwanda a chance to tell her side of the story as he intended to violate the terms of the agreement,” observers said.
The Ugandan leader’s reneging on his part of the deal was evident when not a single Rwandan of the hundreds illegally detained in Ugandan prisons, safe houses, and torture dungeons, was released. “We expect the MoU to be implemented in the spirit in which it was signed,” said Olivier Nduhungirehe, Minister in Charge of the East African Community in a tweet.
Kampala instead did the complete opposite, including continuation of recruitment efforts for RNC, and working with other members of the so-called “P5” group.
Uwingenzi says his troubles in Uganda – where he ran a budding snacks business – began when they arrested him at Kabale on 3, May this year as he was travelling back home to visit. He says a person he identifies as “Patrick” was involved in his arrest.
It appears this Patrick is one of those RNC operatives that move around Uganda, identifying innocent Rwandans to harass and torture. A major aim is to recruit the able bodied as fighters. Others may be tortured in the hope that “there might be something they can disclose about Rwanda that may be of importance.”
Many other Rwandans have been subjected to torture for refusing to offer support, funds or materiel to the “RNC cause.”
Uwingenzi suffered the whole rigmarole of being detained on the charge of “illegal entry”, though, he vehemently says, his travel documents were in order. “But the security people confiscated them.” While in Ndorwa Prison, the prison authorities first tried to persuade him to register as a “refugee”.
But he refused, he says, not seeing why he would do it yet his country Rwanda has done nothing bad to him. He says the Ndorwa Prison warden had him badly beaten all over the body. “Even now my buttocks are full of sores. For a time I couldn’t sit properly!”
Earlier this year it was disclosed that Uganda’s Office of the Prime Minister was running a giant scam; inflating refugee numbers with thousands of fake, or ghost refugees. An audit by the UN Oversight Committee discovered that the Office of the Prime Minister had embezzled millions of dollars meant for refugee welfare. It led to governments like Germany’s, and Japan’s discontinuing funding for Uganda’s refugee program.
Uwingenzi further discloses that even Ndorwa Prison is a hotbed of RNC recruitment, with Kinyarwanda-speaking individuals always talking to inmates, trying to persuade them to join Nyamwasa. “These are people that appear one day, then only a month later they are released, in mysterious ways.
“They are released even when they haven’t gone to a court!”
Uwingenzi advises Banyarwanda to completely desist from going to Uganda. “There absolutely is nothing good in that country for Rwandans!” he exclaimed.