By Patience Kirabo
Emmanuel Rwamucyo, one of the most prominent of Rwandan nationals that fell victim to arbitrary arrest, illegal imprisonment and torture in Uganda is a man with a mission: “to demand reparations from Uganda.” As he profusely expresses gratitude to his government, Rwanda, for having done so much to help him put his life back on track, he wonders why Ugandan authorities cannot make their security agencies accountable for the awful things that happened to him and others there.
Rwamucyo not only suffered physical abuse, or being jailed with his friend, one Augustine Rutayisire, incommunicado, he also was robbed of US$ 40,000. All that happened in May 2018.
He expresses his dismay over Uganda’s failure to even compensate, or hold accountable those that stole from him and other Rwandans who fell victim to the Museveni regime’s hostile policy against Rwanda and her nationals that took a turn for the worse in 2017.
“I profoundly thank the government of Rwanda for its efforts in repatriating and supporting me and fellow prisoners; without these efforts we would be dead,” Rwamucyo says. He goes further saying in fact Kigali fought tooth and nail for them to be released from illegal detention where they suffered so long, neither being allowed family visit nor being accorded their rights to consular visits.
He, however, is dismayed by the government of Uganda for its remorselessness and unwillingness to show accountability for the losses inflicted on them by its security agents.
The businessman who was repatriated in January this year after a two-year-long period in illegal detention in the neighboring country feels keenly how unfair it is for him to be struggling to start anew. “It is completely unfair for me to struggle to start from scratch when those who robbed me of my money and property are at the opposite side of the border enjoying my sweat and family’s earnings!” Rwamucyo says with weariness.
Where things are now he feels strongly that Uganda should be compelled to compensate him, and all the other Rwandans that fell victim to the criminality of Ugandan security agencies. “For everything we left back there and everything they took from us, we should be compensated with interest!” he remarks.
Rwamucyo owned a restaurant, shops, and houses in Western Uganda, in the Mbarara area. That was before Uganda’s security agents declared open season on Rwandan nationals in Uganda. Rwamucyo’s nightmare started on May 25, 2018, when he was abducted with his friend Augustin Rutayisire in Mbarara while on their way to the bank to deposit money.
Their abductors were Mukama Moses Kandiho – a Government Internal Security Officer (GISO) in Mbarara that also happens to be the young brother to CMI Chief Kandiho – and Maj. Mushambo, head of Counterintelligence, UPDF Second Division. They took them to the nearby Makenke Barracks where they locked them up, and soldiers beat them badly.
While detained in Makenke, hours later in the evening Rwamucyo had his car drive into the barracks. He immediately knew, he says, that the men had stolen his money, (US$ 40,000) since they had taken his car keys and now were driving around in it. “There was no way a Ugandan security agent would look at any money and not take it,” Rwamucyo said.
Their ordeal worsened from there. They were tortured then a couple of weeks later transferred from Makenke to Mbuya Military Barracks, and from there to Makindye, then to Kampala’s Luzira Prison. As usual with arrests by Ugandan security agents, there were no clear charges. First it was “suspicion in a robbery plan”, then it changed to “espionage”, then it became illegal “possession of a firearms”.
“Everything they said was just strange to us; mere fabrications to justify their robbery or our money, and their brutality against us,” remarks Rwamucyo.
He again expresses thankfulness to the Rwandan Government for never giving up in the fight for them, “otherwise we wouldn’t be breathing!”