By Alex Muhumuza
Uganda authorities have dumped two Rwandans at Kagitumba Border – Mibungo Emmanuel and Muhigirwa Paul – straight from the torture dungeons of Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI).
In what has become a familiar nightmare scenario for Rwandans that travel to Uganda, or those already resident there, operatives of CMI accosted them in their home areas – Kanungu and Mukono respectively – and abducted them.
Mibungo who hails from Nyanza district , and Muhigirwa from Muhanga district both were accused by their abductors of being “spies of Kagame”. Muhigirwa, a Genocide survivor told the men he only was a pastor of the Zion Temple Church. “I had gone to see a neighbor when one soldier and his colleagues came and asked me who I was,” he told this news website.
“I told him I was a pastor, but the man only took me to the police station,” said Muhigirwa. They roughly shoved him in their vehicle, and once inside, slapped a dark hood over his head. From there they took him to what he came to find out was CMI headquarters. “I thought my life had ended, and I prayed to God!”
“I couldn’t see anything; I couldn’t see where we were going,” he narrated. They fastened handcuffs on his wrists as they drove away.
“To arrive at CMI is like arriving in the house of Satan!” said the pastor.
“They dumped me on the floor and poured ice cold water over my body. Just a few meters away, I could hear people crying and pleading for mercy! There are beatings there! They electrocute people. I remember a man called Nelson, a Rwandan. He is in a very bad condition! Personally I counted over 30 Rwandans there in a very bad state!” Added Muhigirwa.
“At CMI you sleep on the bare floor,” he continued. “There, detainees don’t wash. They are infested with lice. Food is smelly kawunga and bean slops full of weevils. The torture is beyond imagination and only God permitted me to leave that place of Satan!” the Pastor exclaimed.
The same happened to Mibungo. In his case, he said, the man that arrested him said he was “from State House”. “The man asked me who I was, then slapped me hard saying I was a Munyarwanda,” he recalls. They first took Mibungo to a police station, then after four days they took him to Mbuya.
Once there he suffered the same appalling mistreatment as Muhigirwa. They were in the CMI dungeon for over one month, being subjected to torture, attempting to force them to confess that they were “spies sent by Kigali”. Both of them said “no! We can’t confess to something that’s not true; we would rather die!”
The two men wondered how it was possible they could be arrested just like that, with no formal accusation or even being told what they were being accused of.
Dozens upon dozens of Rwandan victims of CMI whom this website has interviewed have invariably described the torture sessions in Mbuya; the forced interrogations, and similar. They testify the torture often is supervised by men that speak Kinyarwanda, very fluently. “Those people can only be Banyarwanda!”
It happened to Fidele Gatsinzi, Roger Donne Mucyo, Damascene Muhawenabo, Pastor Ntakirutimana and so many other survivors of that dungeon. Among their torturers were people that spoke Kinyarwanda, each and every one has testified. Every one is convinced these people were RNC agents.
Gatsinzi in particular was abducted by two men, one of them was Rugema Kayumba – a notorious RNC operative that is constantly on Facebook posting vitriolic anti-Rwanda messages.
“Whatever Museveni will say, that he has nothing to do with working with people that want to kill Banyarwanda, he is completely lying; he is with RNC!” said one of the former Mbuya torture victims.
Mistreatment like this is what prompted lawyers of some of the victims’ families to call a press conference in Kampala yesterday, Tuesday 28 May in which – along with media – human rights groups, diplomats and members of the Law Society were invited. The goal was to highlight the injustices their clients have suffered, and are suffering.
The lawyers, who could only convene the conference with great difficulty because the government was trying to stifle it, first debunked a statement made by Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa. On the first of this month, Kutesa alleged that Uganda had made several arrests “of Rwandans found in violation of Uganda’s laws”, then added that these “had been dealt with according to the law and deported.”
In a sharp rebuke to Kutesa, the lawyers said in a statement: “Lawyers (of some of the families of the detainees) want to provide clarity to the world about what actually is happening in Uganda and draw attention to the gross injustices that the detainees face at the hands of Ugandan security agencies.”
The injustices include extra-legal arrests (abductions); lengthy detention with no opportunity to defend themselves in court; mistreatment and torture in detention, and defying court orders to produce the detainees in a court of law. The Secretary General of the Uganda Law Society Francis Haribomugasho “condemned in the strongest terms” the conduct of the security agencies that have defied the court orders.
Among the many detainees whose rights have been violated is Rene Rutagungira, a civilian that was abducted in a bar in Kampala in August 2017; despite the Ugandan military never producing a shred of proof to back charges he is a “spy”. There are people like Ernest Rwamucyo, Emmanuel Rutayisire, Darius Kayobera and his wife Claudine.
Their families are crying tears. Some, like Kayobera and his wife were taken at midnight, yet their three little children (9,6 and 3) were waiting for them.
Rwanda, through her high commission in Kampala has been protesting these blatant crimes against innocent Rwandans ever since they began. But the Ugandan authorities just ignore the embassy’s notes verbale. Neither do they allow consular access to the victims of the abuse as is provided for by international law.