By Jackson Mutabazi.
In the latest xenophobic attack on Rwandans by Ugandan security forces, Michael Nshimyumukiza last Friday suffered a severe beating at the hands of policemen in Kabale that left him with swellings in his face, arms and legs.
Nshimyumukiza, who has been a trader in Uganda dealing in second-hand clothes, says he committed no crime there at all. He says that after President Museveni’s order to lock down Uganda because of COVID-19, the policemen set on him with sticks and assaulted him with accusations that, “you Rwandans are spreading Coronavirus!” In the process of beating him, they also robbed him of money equivalent to Frw. 20,000 before brutally ordering him to cross into Rwanda through an ungazetted border crossing.
The suffering Nshimyumukiza, who came back home with 10 fellow Rwandans who all are being monitored for COVID-19 in a healthcare facility in the Kageyo Sector of Gicumbi District, said the Ugandan policemen assaulted him with accusations of spreading Coronavirus though no one tested him for illness. Going by the anti-Rwanda trend of things, Nshimyumukiza suffered for only one reason: his nationality.
“The Kabale policemen knew they could assault and rob him because of the current anti-Rwanda environment in Uganda that encourages criminality against Rwandan nationals in Uganda,” said a Rwandan border security official that preferred to speak off the record. “The newly found accusations that ‘Rwandans are spreading Coronavirus’ is just part of it,” he added.
But then, another person asked, in case someone had Coronavirus, is that the way to solve the problem?
A major reason the Rwandan administration decided in March last year to issue an advisory against her citizens from crossing to Uganda was the hostile stance of that country’s government against Rwanda that saw a sharp rise in arbitrary arrests of Rwandan nationals, physical abuse, illegal arrests, detention incommunicado, and torture. The Rwandan government warned her citizens that once in Uganda it couldn’t guarantee their safety.
One of the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding – signed by presidents Kagame and Museveni in August last year in Angola to restore good relations – was for security forces to desist from the persecution, illegal imprisonment, and other forms of mistreatment of each other’s nationals. It has been clear to observers, including observers to the MoU process from Angola and DRC, that only the Government of Uganda is illegally detaining, or treating the nationals of Rwanda, even after the MoU has long been signed.
Up to today there are hundreds of Rwandans languishing in Ugandan prisons and torture dungeons, but who have never been afforded the opportunity to defend themselves.
The victimization of Rwandans continues, as evident with the beating and robbing of Nshimyumukiza as one more incident illustrates Uganda is not ready to do its part to implement the MoU, said our source.
The strange thing about Uganda’s anti-Rwandan hostility is that they are even now trying to weaponize the current COVID-19 pandemic with accusations not only against Nshimyumukiza, but against Rwandans in general: that “they are taking Coronavirus to Uganda.” This narrative however has been completely discredited by two facts. Not one Rwandan has gone to Uganda, since no Rwandan is crossing to Uganda in the first place.
Secondly hundreds of Ugandans from Dubai, as well as several nationals of and other countries have been entering, and leaving Entebbe airport unscreened for the virus, and un-quarantined.
There have been incidents like the 40 Chinese nationals that bribed airport officials and entered Uganda through bribery. They avoided testing and quarantine, and made their way to an apartment in the Naguru neighborhood, according to NBS TV. Additionally NRM big fish as well as UPDF brass have simply been coming to the airport to drive away with returning relatives, friends and associates – untested and undergoing no quarantine – simply because they can.
Hundreds of other Ugandans – 517 according to the Daily Monitor of Thursday last week – were estimated to have left Entebbe yet they underwent no screening process.
“We have seen naked corruption at this airport,” said a Ugandan in a video that made the rounds on 19 this month. “It is just terrible,” said the man, one of the passengers arriving on a flight from Dubai. “We came with a number of other people who left because either ‘they knew people’, or they could bribe their way out.
“We are stuck here because we know no one, and because we won’t bribe anyone,” said a fellow passenger of the Ugandan man, a woman he recorded in the video.