By Patience Kirabo
The Kampala regime has a habit of smearing Rwandans, those whom its security agents often illegally abduct, illegally jail, and torture, that they are criminals.
Not surprisingly Museveni himself was leveling the same smears, right after the fourth quadripartite summit on resolving the standoff between Uganda and Rwanda. The Ugandan ruler uttered his accusations by implication, claiming that “Uganda will not release Rwandan criminals” or “spies”.
But what people must never lose sight of is that for the past three years since Ugandan security organs, such as the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, CMI; Internal Security Organisation, ISO; the Mbarara-based UPDF 2nd Division Counterintelligence operatives, and others began their campaign of persecution of Rwandans, they never use due process. When they arrest one, it is not carried out lawfully; it is abductions and kidnaps. They simply force people into vehicles, they never use arrest warrants, but when they kidnap one in such a manner, it is to detain them incommunicado.
Legal experts in fact say that what Ugandan security operatives have been doing to Rwandans amounts to gross violations, verging on crimes against humanity.
So, how can President Museveni stand in a crowd of people, such as he did in Kabale last Friday – moments after signing a quadripartite document with his Rwandan counterpart – and claim he won’t release “Rwandan spies and criminals?” informed people were asking.
How could Museveni claim any of the Rwandans illegally detained in his country is “a spy” or “criminal” when there is never been a single shred of proof or evidence; and when there has never been a trial for the victims to defend themselves?
It is all just misinformation; to sanitize, and to provide justification for the lawless activities of CMI, ISO and others who in fact have been working with anti-Rwanda negative forces in their campaign of persecution against innocent Rwandans. Their aim has always been to try to forcefully recruit them as rebel fighters in Kayumba Nyamwasa’s RNC; or as contributors of funds and materiel; or even to squeeze them for whatever information they may provide about internal Rwandan affairs.
Museveni who had promised his people he would “take decisive actions in ending tension between the two countries’ relations”, instead, after failure, opted for his usual rhetoric and slander of Rwandans as an easy way to avoid accountability for lying. The embarrassment of repeatedly promising that he will “get the border opened” but failing at every turn made him crank up the rhetoric against innocent Rwandans even louder.
But who are these “criminals” that Museveni is talking about?
One can take the random example of the 35 Rwandan nationals who in October 2019 were moved from the dungeons and “safe houses” of CMI, and transferred to different police stations all over Uganda. That was because lawyers for the Rwandans had been taking them to task either to try these Rwandans in court, or release them. Human rights advocacy was also a factor.
The question, after CMI released the 35 individuals, some whom it had been holding for over a year, was: so why did they detain these people in the first place? There was no answer.
But when the 35 were dispersed to different police stations in Districts like Ntungamo, Mityana, Mbarara, Mubende, Kanungu, Kasese and others, still there was no due process to have them released. The 12 that ended up in Kisoro however ended up suffering another bad misfortune.
Philemon Mateke, Uganda’s State Minister for Regional Cooperation was on hand to see that they were incarcerated even further! When the unfortunate Rwandans were taken from the cells of the police station, it was only to face a kangaroo procedure in the Kisoro Magistrates Court, in November 2019.
The Rwanda-born Mateke, whom Museveni has put in charge of RNC and FDLR affairs, was seen engaging the Kisoro Magistrate for long hours. After Mateke stepped out of the court, the judge ordered each of the 12 Rwandans to be imprisoned for 18 months with the concocted charge of “illegal entry and stay in Uganda”.
The families of all these people, whether those in Kisoro, or the others in the different districts wait for them with sadness.
When one considers such things, it is not difficult to see, between the Rwandans that suffer such injustices, and their persecutors, who is the real criminal.