By Jackson Mutabazi
Shocking photographs have emerged of a Rwandan national that Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, CMI, tortured for over two months in its dungeons and released on bail on Monday 11 March 2019.
In the pictures Rwandan businessman Moses Ishimwe Rutare, whom operatives of CMI kidnapped on 22 December 2018, looks a ghost of his former self. A photograph of Rutare that was taken before his kidnapping shows a healthy looking, self-confident man in smart business attire with phone earpieces in his ears. When contrasted with his appearance only two and a half months later, the contrast is frightening.
It speaks volumes about the beastliness of CMI. Rutare has clearly lost a lot of weight, which for one thing indicates they have been starving him.
Those that have seen CMI’s methods of torture – such as Roger Donne Kayibanda who was recently deported after torture in the dungeons of its Mbuya headquarters – describe how victims are given only kawunga (maize gruel) and watery stew they call beans. In most cases they just throw it on the floor for the victim to eat with bare, unwashed hands.
Rutare also looks gaunt, and there is a haunted look in his eyes – clear signs he has suffered other forms of torture besides starvation.
Eyewitnesses describe how in the dungeons of Mbuya, or in any of CMI’s numerous un-gazetted prisons – the so-called safe houses – there are very many Rwandans, such as Rutare. The eyewitnesses describe how CMI operatives working hand in hand with agents of RNC – the rebel group of Kayumba Nyamwasa, that have been integrated with Ugandan security agencies – beat victimized Rwandans with objects like electricity cables or heavier objects during torture sessions. Very many torture victims have suffered broken bones, arms or legs.
News reports from Uganda this morning, 11 March 2019 were saying the Rwandan national was “loitering near a CMI building”. They did not specify what is meant by “loitering”.
Then the story changed. It said a magistrate court in Nakawa had charged Rutare with “illegal entry” and “illegal stay” in Uganda, and he was released on bail. What they do not tell the public is that charges of illegal entry or illegal stay in Uganda are in violation of EAC Common Market laws on freedom of movement of persons and labor. The laws are clear that citizens of member states are free to enter and leave another member state and cannot be prosecuted for that.
The true measure of how empowered Kampala’s intelligence agencies feel to harass or persecute Rwandan nationals can be seen in the real reason Rutare was arrested – a term that really is a misnomer for “kidnapped” and “abducted”.
Confidential sources tell us the “illegal entry” and “illegal stay” charges are concocted ones covering up the worst impunity by CMI.
CMI abducted Moses Ishimwe Rutare because he had walked past the house of Brig. Gen. Abel Kandiho, chief of CMI. It happened on 22 December 18 when he went to attend a church fellowship program at the offices of Zoe Ministries Church in Bugolobi together with his a friend, Eunice Isure. Zoe Ministries is nearby the house of Kandiho, whose address is Bungalow 3, Luthuli Drive, Bugolobi.
During prayers, Rutare got a phone call from his mother, at around 12:50 pm and stepped outside, not to disrupt the prayers. He walked along Luthuli Avenue talking on the phone, unknowingly approaching Kandiho’s house.
According to reports, the CMI operatives there have given themselves the power to stop people that walk by their feared boss’s house; and to question passersby at random. The men that stopped Ishimwe were armed, but in civilian attire. When they asked him to identify himself and Moses told them he was a Rwandan they immediately put him under arrest.
He explained why he was there to no avail. To CMI operatives, being a Rwandan is enough of an offence to be transported to their Mbuya headquarters, or any of the places of illegal detention they run, for torture. That is what happened to Rutare.
The cases of Rutare, and many others illustrate how determined to lie Ugandan officials when they claim that “no Rwandans have been tortured or harassed in Uganda”.
Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa said that in his recent “statement on Uganda, Rwanda relations”. The facts on the ground show in the clearest terms that he was telling a complete lie.
The country’s Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Kahinda Otafiire said, “No Rwandan national has been mistreated, illegally detained or tortured by Ugandan authorities. Advocates of Rwandan torture victims showed proof he is not telling the truth.
The advocates – Eron Kiiza, Eric Kavuma and Simon Peter on Monday, 11 March 19 – said that a number of their Rwandan clients have been subjected to torture, and detention with no treatment. They named some of their clients that have suffered torture as Rene Rutagungira, Iyakaremye Claude, Rwamucyo Emmanuel and Rutayisire Augustine. “They were roughly arrested, illegally detained (beyond 48 hours) sometimes months, and even tortured,” said Eron Kiiza.
He added: “though civilians, they were belatedly charged and arraigned in the General Court Martial where their trial is dragging with no sign of getting bail.
“Another group of Rwandans were illegally deported with no form of hearing and dumped at the border in pitiable medical condition after torture in detention.”