By Jackson Mutabazi
Reports reaching our news desk indicate that Augustin Rutayisire, one of the multitudes of Rwandans illegally detained in Uganda, is on the verge of losing his life.
Eyewitness sources have disclosed that Rutayisire, who currently is incarcerated at Kampala’s Luzira Prison has suffered torture and mistreatment that includes beatings, being starved, and being forced to sleep on a cold floor. “Ever since Mr. Augustin was arrested – in May 2018 by Mukama Moses Kandiho, a brother of Ugandan Military Intelligence chief Brig. Gen. Abel Kandiho – he has been in a bad condition after enduring much torture,” said our source.
The source continued: “In the last week in Luzira, Mr. Augustin hasn’t been allowed a mattress and is sleeping on the cold floor. He was beaten and kicked by some prison officers and sustained injuries in the chest, around the waist and the back, and now he is coughing blood.”
Also, he is held incommunicado and denied a phone to communicate with his family.
In May this year, this news website published a report detailing how Rutayisire almost got killed in the prison when someone put ground bottle fragments in his food. That time he was lucky they rushed him to hospital, and he survived.
The source of Rutayisire’s troubles – and those of fellow Rwandans suffering similar brutal incarceration in different Ugandan prisons, torture dungeons and various ungazetted places of detention, the so called safe houses – is the Kampala regime’s hostility to Rwanda. It began, as everyone knows, when the Ugandan ruler decided to back anti-Rwanda groups, principally Kayumba Nyamwasa’s RNC.
Since then hundreds of Rwandan nationals travelling to, or resident in Uganda have been arbitrary and illegally arrested in Amin-like abductions, tortured, and illegal imprisoned in the most inhumane conditions.
Ugandan security agencies, most notoriously CMI and ISO, closely working with agents of RNC have executed Kampala’s hostility against Rwandans for three broad reasons. The first is the search for able-bodied people to recruit as fighters of RNC. According to many reports, abductions and torture are one of the methods to get individuals to agree to join Nyamwasa’s rebels, though it hasn’t been very successful.
It has turned out that a lot of Rwandans will agree to suffer rather than turn traitor to their country.
Secondly the CMI, ISO and their RNC sidekicks move about in Kinyarwanda-speaking communities in Uganda, looking for young individuals to recruit as fighters. But they also identify well-off Rwandans – big farmers, businessmen and the like – to recruit as providers of funds and materiel to “the RNC cause”.
Those that refuse find themselves being harassed, receiving death threats and being warned, “They will be dealt with!”
The third reason a Rwandan unfortunate enough to fall into the hands of Ugandan security suffer is when Ugandan security operatives identify them as good targets for robbery. Museveni’s hostility against Rwanda, analysts point out, has become a very big loophole for his thieving security agents to perpetrate theft.
They use their wide-ranging leverage for impunity in perpetrating any crime on a Rwandan national – because after all they are dealing with “enemies of Uganda!”, analysts say.
The main ways CMI, ISO and RNC to victimize Rwandans, as news reports have long been saying, is to concoct charges mainly of “spying”, “illegal entry” or “illegal stay”, and “illegal possession of weapons”. Even the lowliest Ugandan border askaris or prison warders have identified these loopholes to make it a habit to extract bribes from completely innocent Rwandans.
Failure to pay a bribe can easily mean two years of hard labor in Kabale, Kisoro or other Ugandan border area prisons.
Rutayisire’s particular problems began when he left his home in Kigali, in May 2018, to go to the neighboring country on a business trip. While in Mbarara, according to his wife he linked up with Emmanuel Rwamucyo, a good friend and business partner of his. It so happened that Rwamucyo had a large sum of money in his car, Ushs 140 million, that he was about to deposit in a Mbarara bank branch.
Upon parking their car, suddenly they were accosted by Kandiho’s brother, Moses Kandiho who is a Government Internal Security Officer (GISO) of the area. Kandiho informed the two men that they were “suspected of involvement in a robbery plot”, and ordered them to sit down. They were under arrest!
In a moment the GISO was on the phone talking to someone, according to Rwamucyo’s family members. Not long afterwards a big vehicle arrived and out stepped Maj. Mushambo, the UPDF’s Second Division Counterintelligence Officer, and a couple of soldiers.
“As if they already knew what they were doing, they headed straight to Rwamucyo, took his car keys from him and opened his car,” another family member of Rwamucyo’s said.
In a moment Rwamucyo’s money, all of it, was gone. The soldiers then made a show of “finding a gun in the car”, and the charge against the two Rwandans changed from “involvement in a robbery plot” to “illegal weapons possession”.
They were bundled into a vehicle and driven to Mbarara Barracks where, according to Rutayisire’s wife they suffered horrific beatings. They spent a week in the place getting the same treatment, daily. Later on, the two friends were transported to CMI headquarters in Kampala, for more torture; and still later on to Luzira Prison.
Rwamucyo and Rutayisire weren’t arrested in any legal way. They were brutally abducted. They were robbed by Ugandan authorities; and they never received a lawful court trial. They were only once taken to the Makindye Military Court – in complete abuse of their rights as civilians, and in disregard of Uganda’s own constitution – in August 2018, months after they were first abducted.
All requests by the Rwandan High Commission in Kampala for the two men to at least receive a fair trial; all the requests to afford them consular visits, were simply ignored by Ugandan authorities. That is how Kampala regime authorities have been behaving following each and every request by the Rwandan Embassy.
When Rwanda and Uganda signed a memorandum of understanding last month in Angola, one of the main issues was to deal with cases like that of Rwamucyo and Rutayisire. Kampala chose to disregard the MoU, just like they have been disregarding all diplomatic entreaties to at least behave in accordance with the law.
Meantime Rutayisire, a man whose only crime obviously is because he is a Rwandan, teeters on the verge of death.