By Patience Kirabo
Two Rwandans, Nzabonimpa Joseph and Irakiza Fiston are among the latest inhumanly tortured, and later dumped victims of Uganda’s hostile policy to Rwanda.
The two men were dumped in the morning hours of Wednesday last week, 24 July at the Cyanika border post. They were coming off a rough period of illegal detention, harassment and severe torture under Ugandan Military Intelligence, CMI.
Nzabonimpa, on a fateful evening of March 03, was closing his businesses when random men grabbed him. The men in question were not wearing anything that Nzabonimpa could identify them by. He was forcefully abducted and taken to Kisoro Police in a black tinted vehicle. On their way, Nzabonimpa received what he says is the most serious beating of his life.
They continuously asked him why he was in Uganda. Also they continuously told him that he was in Uganda illegally. “They asked for my identity card and I gave it to them with my border entry permit, ‘jetton.’ They immediately tore it up, and my ID was never returned,” said Nzabonimpa.
He was quickly charged with “illegal entry”, and illegally detained despite having shown the security agents his travel documents and national identity card. They then asked him if he had money, so that they could release him. He had none, he told them. Nzabonimpa joined 23 more Rwandans who had suffered the same ordeal as him in detention. They were beaten, and given very little food.
The distraught Nzabonimpa says he and fellow detainees sometimes slept on wet floors. He narrates that the torture was administered by Kinyarwanda-speaking officers. “They were Rwandans like us,” he said. Nzabonimpa says he asked why they were being beaten and tortured like that. “We were told that we were in Uganda to spy for Rwanda!” The detainees denied the allegations, dismayed that they were being accused of something they had never done.
On realizing that Nzabonimpa couldn’t take the daily beatings any more, the Ugandan security authorities then transported him, and dumped him at the nearby Cyanika Border Post. He left behind the other 23 victims in Kisoro detention cells.
Irakiza Fiston was illegally detained on October 28 last year. CMI agents abducted him on his way to work. He was asked for his documents which he obliged, by showing his Identity card and a border pass, of which were immediately confiscated. He was later asked for Ushs 300,000 Ugandan so as to be released, which he failed to cough up, thus his detention in Kisoro Prison.
After two weeks of the same torture as every Rwandan detained in Uganda suffers, Irakiza was transferred to Ibuga Prison in Kasese District on November 13, 2018. There he spent eight months undergoing all kinds of mistreatment by prison guards, because he was also allegedly charged with “illegal entry”.
According to Irakiza, they worked like slaves in the huge maize farms nearby, just outside the prison’s perimeter. They would dig, barefoot while being beaten if one got tired or slowed down in the slightest. They slaved in all the surrounding farms daily, suffering physical abuse.
Violence in prison became more and more unbearable for Irakiza. He was always ill on top of the daily beatings he received. He became of no use to the security agents any more, so they dumped him at the Cyanika border. He too left a number of other Rwandans behind, in the Ibuga Prison.
Both Victims’ health is not in a good state, especially Irakiza. Their bodies show marks of torture. They appear to have traumatized minds and severe weight loss.
According to most of the dumped individuals’ stories, interrogation after abduction is done by Kinyarwanda speaking security agents who continuously try to coerce them into confessing that they are in Uganda to spy. When the victims stick to the truth, they are detained on concocted charges of “illegal entry”, or “espionage”. The torture in detention is daily.
In Irakiza and Nzabonimpa’s case, they were asked to buy their freedom or at least ask from family members for the money. Failure to pay, they all ended up in jail.
Nzabonimpa warns all Rwandans to refrain from going to Uganda, most especially his friends.
“If a friend dares to cross to Uganda, I will immediately count that one as gone, because there is no guarantee that I will see them again!” Nzabonimpa exclaims.