In an ongoing show of hostility against Rwanda, President Yoweri Museveni’s security organs are singling out ordinary Rwandan citizens for harassment. It has reached an extent that, according to several people this news website has interviewed, the feeling is such that “no Rwandan is safe in Uganda any longer.”
“Businessmen and women, traders, tourists and even those only travelling to Uganda to visit relatives; no Rwandan feels secure in Uganda these days,” said Geoffrey Bizimana, a regular trader between Mbarara and Kigali.
Harassment, torture and other mistreatment of Rwandans by Uganda’s CMI have become a worrying trend for Rwandans in Uganda. Harassment was ramped up ever since Kigali complained to Kampala that RNC is using Uganda’s territory, with the facilitation of CMI, to carry out recruitment and mobilisation activities within the Rwandan community in Uganda with the goal of destabilising Rwanda.
There have been many reports of Rwandans that were dumped at the border, in critical condition, after suffering weeks of torture at the notorious CMI headquarters in Mbuya, which even Ugandans describe as resembling the dungeons of the days of Idi Amin.
According to sources from Kampala, the jeopardy most Rwandans face in Uganda is initiated by RNC operatives. These work hand in hand with CMI officers – Col. CK Asiimwe of the Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force (JATT) and Major Mushambo, the division Intelligence Officer for Mbarara, among others – whom they feed with cues on who to arrest. What this means is that CMi has clearance from Museveni to arrest any Rwandan suspect, torture, and keep them in CMI Mbuya cells with out respect of legal processes.
Some of the people who have been victims report that any of Kayumba Nyamwasa’s RNC operatives, such as Pastor Deo Nyirigira and Dr. Sam Ruvuva in Mbarara, can instigate an arrest or torture of any Rwandan citizen on Ugandan territory simply by telling Abel Kandiho and his people to do so.
“CMI will just grab any Rwandan that an RNC recruiter or operative suspects to be close to the Rwandan government even if it is for personal grudges,” said a source familiar with CMI and ISO activities. Several Rwandans have been arrested and tortured in this fashion without Ugandan authorities even informing their embassy in direct contravention of international law and diplomatic norms.
It’s worth recalling that last December Rugema Kayumba, the RNC top recruiter in Uganda, arrested Fidele Gatsinzi a Rwandan national who had gone to Kampala to visit his son at Mukono Christian University. Gatsinzi was blindfolded and taken to CMI headquarters in Mbuya where he was tortured for weeks before getting dumped at the Gatuna border with Rwanda unable to stand on his own and needing a wheelchair. Rugema Kayumba was armed with a pistol and rifle by the time he arrested Gatsinzi Didel.
All Museveni did was to inform CMI’s head Gen. Abel Kandiho to tell Kayumba Rugema to relocate to Norway from where he continues to coordinate CMI’s arrest of Rwandans who are presumed to be spies.
On January 4, 2018, Emmanuel Cyamayire, 44, who had been doing business in Mbarara was similarly picked up, tortured, and dumped at the Gatuna border. Another seven Rwandans, including two women, 29 year old Jessica Muyongerwa and Vanessa Gasaro, were picked up in Kampala and Mbarara and taken to Mbuya where they were also tortured and left for dead at the Gatuna border. In all these, RNC and CMI agents were operating together as though the former was a legal law enforcement entity in Uganda.
Rwandans will be targeted for any reason
Last Saturday,July 21 at around 6pm, the conductor of a Trinity Bus Company that operates between Kigai and Kampala, Mr. Sudi Rwanyonga, was able to narrowly escape CMI operatives who stopped him with intention to detain him. The bus was parked at the border for routine checks and other procedures when CMI men approached Sudi and began interrogating him saying they had information that he used to be a police officer in Rwanda and that this made him a spy. They then said they had been instructed to take him to CMI Headquarters in Kampala.
Sudi chose to sprint across the border to Rwanda, no doubt reasoning that it was better to risk getting shot than ending up in a CMI cells. “Fortunately for me they did not shoot,” the bus conductor told this website. “I didn’t understand how having served in the police in Rwanda was now a crime in Uganda and how that made me a spy” wondered Sudi.
His colleague was not so lucky. On Monday July 23, at around 4pm, a Trinity Bus Agent based at the Gatuna border, Mr. Smith Oswald Ndabarasa, who works on the Uganda side of the border was arrested and detained. These incidents have caused fear in the business community with many worrying about how much longer they can continue to do business across the border. “If they even harass bus drivers and conductors, imagine the harm to freedom of movement or goods,” said a scared Rwandan who has business interests in the region, including in Uganda.
The only safe Rwandans in Uganda, it seems, are those aligned to the RNC. Recently the magistrate in court in Mbarara released the 46 RNC recruits who CMI had furnished with fake travel documents before they were intercepted at the Kikagati border on their way to the RNC training centre in Minembwe, DRC.
Despite all these provocations, including the harassment and torture of its citizens, Kigali has refrained from taking retaliatory measures. Ugandans who live, work, and travel within Rwanda remain safe. Indeed, not a single Rwandan security operative has arrested or jailed a Ugandan for the mere fact that they are Ugandans, or that they once served in the UPDF or UPF.
“Why should we do that?” said a Rwandan government official who asked not to be named. “Rwanda is a country of laws. Ugandans are welcome in Rwanda any time.”