By Patience Kirabo
Five more Rwandan nationals have been dumped at the Cyanika Border Post after facing the wrath of the Uganda security operatives following an arbitrary arrest and illegal detention. Philip Barihoreye, Jean D’Amour Nizeyimana, Jean Damascene Nizeyimana, Jean-Paul Dusabimana, and Innocent Ngaruwenimana are the latest victims to be dumped; these ones by Uganda Internal Security Organization (ISO) operatives on 3rd Au 2019. The five, like so many others before them, have endured inhuman torture, harassment, and abuse.
Barihoreye, 44, a businessman and Dusabimana 24, a student at the University of Rwanda entered Uganda through the Immigration and Emigration office at the Cyanika Border on March 22, 2018. Concurrently, their journey to Uganda stopped midway after they were forcefully arrested on alleged charges of “illegal entry”. Yet both men had been asked for their border entry permits and identity cards, which they showed. But the Ugandan authorities confiscated the documents and arrested them.
The two were taken into police custody, then to the notorious Kiburara Prison. Before being inhumanly dumped, Barihoreye had served sixteen months of illegal incarceration during which daily beatings were the norm, and they ate only once a day – moldy flour-bread (kawunga) and sloppy beans. Dusabimana was in the same terrible prison for two years.
Jean D’Amour Nizeyimana, 33, was abducted by unknown men in civilian clothes on 22 March 2019. That was in Kisoro as he was on his way back to Rwanda from Uganda. While Nizeyimana was being shoved into a van, the men started going through his belongings. His phone was taken and his pockets were emptied as well. He was later thrown into Kiburara Prison on allegations of illegal entry.
While Nizeyimana tried to stand up for himself explaining that his documents were in his bag, the Ugandan security men immediately took them and tore them apart. He was told that he did not have any documents and thus he had entered Uganda illegally! Later on, Nizeyimana was asked to pay two million Ugandan shillings so that he could be released.
He requested the men to call his wife so that she could raise the money. The wife managed to get only four hundred thousand shillings, which was taken by the security agents. However, Nizeyimana was not released because the money was little, his captors said.
Jean Damascene Nizeyimana, 27, entered Uganda on 8 March 2018. He says they brutally kidnapped him on his way from work in Nyakabande, Kisoro District on March 22, 2019. He was immediately taken to Kisoro Police Station where he was beaten, and kicked in the stomach before being told what his offense was. After a while, he was told that he was “a Rwandan spy” disguising himself as a businessman. Nizeyimana denied all the allegations but the security operatives could not hear any of it. He was pounced on and threatened with death if he did not confess.
In complete despair and fright Nizeyimana asked if he could at least talk to his family and tell them his last words, but the security agents were not that compassionate. “It infuriated them more,” said Nizeyimana. “I was scared I was not going to see another day!” As the torture continued, Nizeyimana’s health deteriorated. As a result, he was dumped at the Cyanika border for fear of him dying on their hands, he disclosed.
Like the rest of the victims, Innocent Ngaruwenimana, 19, went through the same ordeal of illegal detention in Kiburara Prison, on 19 May 2018. He was on a bus on his way to visit his grandfather, a resident of Mubende District. He was subjected to serious beating and harassment for a whole year in Kiburara Prison, just like so many Rwandan nationals in that and other Ugandan prisons.
A sad incident that left all detainees in agony is the loss of a fellow Rwandan prisoner, Samuel, who died due to a combination of beatings, quasi slave labor and bad feeding.
In Kiburara prison, all the victims were jailed without proper procedure. All their documents were confiscated as a means to charge them with “illegal entry” into Uganda. During detention, the victims did hard labor on maize and other farms, going long hours with neither food nor water. “We went through hell in prison and worked as slaves in their farms and forests; we are quite lucky to be back home and safe”.
They say they have left very many unlucky fellow Rwandans in Kiburara Prison. They say there are about two hundred of them.