By Patience Kirabo
Maniriho Said, is one of the very many Rwandans dumped by Ugandan security authorities at the border.
That happened last month, June 23, when they dumped Maniriho at Cyanika border post following illegal detention and torture in the dungeons of Uganda’s Internal Security Organisation at the beginning of that month. The Rwandan was running a business in Kampala before his abduction by ISO agents in Ntinda, a suburb of Kampala when on his way to Rwanda to visit his family.
Maniriho was badly beaten in the security agents’ car before they reached their destination, which was the ISO detention cells in Kyengera, a Kampala neighborhood. While there they accused him of espionage and “illegal” arms possession. That is standard procedure by Ugandan security agencies, most notoriously CMI.
They often concoct three main kinds of charges: “espionage”, “illegal entry” and “illegal possession of weapons.” They never show proof, or charge the Rwandans in an open court process. They roughly abduct the innocent Rwandans – most times working with agents of Kayumba Nyamwasa’s RNC – and take them to unknown torture locations.
While in detention, Maniriho was never allowed to make even a phone call to any of his family members. He was subjected to further beatings and starvation in the ISO cell, he disclosed. He says they were handcuffed day in and day out, and they stole his money, Ushs 1,100,000. They also confiscated his phone and never gave it back to him.
Maniriho narrates that once he entered the Kyengera cells, there were a number of other Rwandan nationals detained just like him. His fellow victims told him that they had been undergoing the same torture and other ordeals. They would learn that they were all detained so as to be tortured into agreeing to spy on Rwanda, or to be recruited into the terrorist RNC. Maniriho said the detainees refused to agree to whatever ISO was torturing them to do.
Torture has been one of the methods of recruitment for the anti-Rwanda RNC rebels in South Kivu, which was recently routed and smoked out of its forest bases in eastern Congo, with an estimated 200 of the rebels losing their lives. Rwandans are so bitter that Nyamwasa is luring the children of others to face terrible danger while he enjoys his luxurious hideout in South Africa.
Maniriho narrates: “we were beaten day and night, until they saw we could no longer be of any importance to them given the condition we were in. We had bruises and cuts all over our bodies. Our health was deteriorating, and those are the reasons they decided to dump us at the border”.
Every Rwandan that has been lucky to survive the ordeal has horrible stories to tell. Rwandans have suffered abduction and kidnap on very many occasions in the neighboring country for no other reason than that they are Rwandans.
All that happens in violation not only of Ugandan law, as Ugandan attorneys of the very many Rwandan victims have pointed out, but of international law. The Protocols on Establishment of the East African Community Common Market are clear regarding free movement of people, labor or goods.
All citizens of member states are to freely move in and out of any member state, and no visas are required. Proof of citizenship is enough for that. No national of a member state travelling in another member state is to be stopped, persecuted or arrested on grounds of “illegal entry”, according to the law.
“Uganda in its anti-Rwandan hostility however has proven itself ready to break the law and persecute Rwandans in the most criminal ways,” said a Rwandan whose relative has been missing in Uganda for the past two years.