By Jackson Mutabazi
An article in this week’s the East African newspaper has claimed that Rwandans living along Gatuna border town can now freely cross into Uganda and back, “without much restriction”.
However, facts on the ground show that the article – under the title “Tension eases at Rwanda, Uganda border of Gatuna” – is peppered with inaccuracies and misleading claims.
The first thing one notices is that it is based on the misleading information that “Rwanda closed its borders with Uganda”. Only Gatuna border is restricted to heavy commercial trucks pending completion of construction of the One Stop Border Post. At all the other borders traffic enters or leaves freely.
Secondly, the paper does not mention that no Rwandan government official has come out to say that the original warning they issued against Rwandans travelling to Uganda has been lifted.
Last month, on 1st March, Foreign Minister Richard Sezibera on his official Twitter account announced that Rwandan citizens “were strongly advised not to go to Uganda”. Reasons the minister cited included harassment of Rwandan nationals, including illegal arrests, torture and arbitrary imprisonment with no consular visits allowed.
“But no Rwandan government official, whether Sezibera or any other, has come out to say anything has changed,” said an official that preferred anonymity.
He added: “no one has announced that Rwandans can now go to Uganda without fear that the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, CMI, or ISO, or the militarized Ugandan immigration officials will abduct them. Or that they will not be arrested on concocted charges of ‘spying’ or ‘illegal entry’ and suffer incarceration in prisons or cells that are hell for Rwandans!”
The official went on to wonder what The East African had based on to publish its article.
Even Rwandans serving God in Uganda aren’t spared. Members of the ADEPR Church in Uganda were worried sick last month, when on 28 March CMI operatives abducted the church’s leader in Kampala, Theoneste Ntakirutimana. They had no arrest warrant, as per their modus operandi.
They just took the preacher away and it was later learnt they were concocting charges that he was a “Rwandan agent”. CMI also took away Jean Paul Cyusa, an ordinary church member. According to reliable sources, the two are held in Mbuya Military Barracks, the dreaded CMI headquarters.
Ugandan security agents have not stopped abducting Rwandans, without charges, and holding them in unknown places either. On Friday this week local media was reporting that two Rwandan citizens – Sendegeya Theogene and Magezi Emmanuel – have been missing from their homes since last year. According to family members, soldiers of UPDF Second Division Mbarara arrested them. The men haven’t been heard of since then.
Since the Rwanda government advisory to its nationals, Uganda has only become more dangerous for Rwandans. While hundreds of them still languish in prisons in several parts of the neighbor country, and multitudes suffer torture in CMI dungeons, others are being murdered.
A Rwandan national, Dusengimana Theogene was killed in Kabarore District in Uganda on 7th this month. However, Ugandan authorities did not take the steps of taking his body for post mortem, even when it was clear his death was not natural. His friends said when they found his body, “it had bruises on the stomach and neck”.
Ugandan authorities instead tried to politicize Dusengimana’s body when they began putting out media reports that “Rwanda was not allowing even it’s dead back for burial,” because “it has closed the border!” The facts are that Rwanda was doing everything in its means to help the deceased’s relatives repatriate him, while Ugandan soldiers were refusing passage for them.
It was only after an exhausting effort that the deceased was brought back home and given a dignified sends off.
According to those in the know, in Kabarore the deceased very possibly fell afoul of agents of CMI and RNC, the anti Rwanda terror group headed by Kayumba Nyamwasa which has very close ties with Kampala.
It has been shown numerous times by Rwanda – through diplomatic channels – that CMI facilitates, and works hand in hand with RNC agents in Uganda. They recruit young Banyarwanda in Uganda to transport them to RNC training camps in DRC. They also recruit, through intimidation mostly, contributors of funds.
The recruitments take places in refugee camps holding Rwandan populations, or towns and villages with Kinyarwanda-speaking communities. The ones that refuse to be recruited either will be arrested on the aforementioned concocted charges, or repeatedly threatened, intimidated and told they will be “dealt with”.
Dusengimana’s friends think RNC agents together with CMI killed him because he refused to have anything to do with RNC.
Another Rwandan who was murdered is Kisoro-based businessman Sabaho Lambert. He was gunned down on 16th this month just near the gate of his home, by men in a vehicle that sped off.
In other words, nothing has changed to warrant the lifting Rwanda’s advisory to it’s national against traveling to Uganda.
“There is no way Rwanda can advise her people that it is safe to begin going to Uganda again, and only the East African knows where it got its false information,” said the official earlier quoted.