By Patience Kirabo
Paul Bucyendore, one of the many Ugandans of Rwandan descent victimized in Uganda, says he has no words to thank the Rwandan government for how it received, helped, and re-settled him even though he had never lived in Rwanda.
The 60-year old says after the “terrible injustice” he suffered in Uganda he never thought his life would get on track again. In Uganda he suffered persecution and wrongful detention by a Ugandan Member of Parliament (MP), Charles Ngabirano who was after his land.
Bucyendore, whose whole life’s work was left in Uganda after he was dumped at the Kagitumba Border Post on February 24, this year, is sad at how even MPs in Uganda can “just do criminal things with impunity.”
Bucyendore was born, and lived in Uganda, in Kiruhura District for his entire life though he was of Rwandan descent. He grew up a hard-working man; a farmer that accumulated, patiently and through hard work, his properties which also include a two-hectare plot of land and a house. He lived like a normal Ugandan, until Charles Ngabirano, the Ugandan MP for Bushenyi District started harassing him.
“That was when my very bad luck began, when Ngabirano began to harass me because he wanted to get rid of me so as to take my land,” laments Bucyendore who discloses that some of the land that he was dispossessed of he had inherited from his parents. “I had titles that showed this legally was my land,” he adds sadly. “But in Uganda these days anyone can harass you because of being a Munyarwanda!”
But Bucyendore has been given hope by Rwanda. “How would I have survived if it wasn’t for this compassionate government!” he asks. “They have helped so much in settling me here, and I am grateful. I don’t know what I could have done at my age after Uganda threw me out in such an unjust way.”
He recounts how he was told back in Uganda that, “as a Munyarwanda, he was not eligible to possess any plot of land or any other valuable properties in Uganda.” He wonders if the government of Rwanda can help him get back his properties. Those that know his case just shake their heads at the climate of anti-Rwandan hostility that the Ugandan Government has cultivated.
In March 2019 was when Bucyendore’s problems worsened. Ngabirano connived with local authorities in Kiruhura to throw the old man behind bars. On the 12th that month they arbitrarily arrested Bucyendore over accusations of “illegal stay” in Uganda. That was just not true, according to Bucyendore who even had Ugandan citizenship. But as usual when it comes to Rwandans victimized this way, they just illegally detained him, incommunicado, and refused to accord him a chance to defend himself in court.
The MP threatened Bucyendore that if he did not leave the land, his own property, he would be killed.
Deliberately denied even a consular visit, Bucyendore was illegally incarcerated in Bushenyi Prison for eight months without due legal process. Ngabirano kept coming to the prison to harass him, often with “threats”, says Bucyendore. “You will be deported and will never spend any more time on that piece of land, it will be automatically handed over to me!” Ngabirano would shout.
In the end Ngabirano made good on his threats, and Bucyendore was taken from prison and dumped at the border, “with nothing at all.”
“The government of Rwanda is just a parent, to see how it has helped me,” he gratefully remarks again.