By Alain Mucyo
An article published in the Ugandan tabloid Red Pepper under the headline, “200 terrorists enter Uganda” claims that alleged Rwandan “terrorists” were involved in a plot to wreak havoc in Kampala during the festive season. Red Pepper, a sensationalist publication whose seed money was provided by Salim Saleh – it is on record – has jumped onto the bandwagon on anti-Rwanda smears.
The tabloid wrote in the story, published yesterday – Monday 30 – that “some of these terrorists have been arrested” by Uganda’s Internal Security Organisation (ISO). It then goes on to splash images of the alleged “terrorists”, including two Rwandans who live in Uganda with their families.
Red Pepper in its usual slanderous style of publishing things about people with no attempt to tell their side of the story names one of the alleged terrorist suspects as Abdul Razak Subwanone, a Rwandan resident of Kampala. Subwanone is a businessman dealing in car spare parts from Dubai. He and another Rwandan named as Edward Nsenga, a dealer in phones in the Ugandan capital were abducted by agents of Internal Security Organization, ISO – in a dragnet that hauled in a total of 200 people.
Now Red Pepper is singling out these abducted Rwandans – who are yet to stand trial to defend themselves, and who are reported to be illegally jailed at the notorious ISO “safe house” of Kyengera, a Kampala suburb – to make the whole story of the alleged terror plot about them. The tabloid makes insinuations that they are from “a neighboring country”.
Those familiar with the Museveni regime’s anti-Rwanda propaganda campaign will know this means “Rwanda”.
The alleged plot “targetted a number of hotels in Kampala for mayhem in the festive season”. The story insinuates that the Rwandans were the ring leaders of this mysterious plot that was to allegedly be executed by Congolese, and by members of the ADF rebel group as well as others said to be against the Museveni regime.
Ugandan intelligence and security organizations have been carrying out a campaign of persecution against Rwandan nationals that involves abductions, holding them incommunicado, and denying them consular services, and torturing them. But Uganda has never tried a single Rwandan in court to show proof of their alleged “spying”, or “alleged illegal entry” and other charges for which they usually abduct Rwandans.
Subwanone and Nsenga have been missing from their families since 22 December, this month. Subwanone is married with five children in Uganda. When he was abducted by ISO he was on his way from the Rwandan High Commission to get papers to send his children back to Rwanda, according to family sources.
But the sensationalist Red Pepper instead printed an allegation that Subwanone “had been trailed to the bus park to pick a huge sum of money”, and that this was “to facilitate some of the criminal elements.” Probably this is what ISO head Col. Kaka Bagyenda fed them (Red Pepper), media sources informed us.
Since his abduction, Subwanone’s wife has been to nearly all police stations around Kampala trying to locate her husband but in vain. “Following the kidnap of her husband, his wife reported the matter to old Kampala police but was not assisted to trace him,” said a family source.
But it has now been established that he is in the safe house in Kyengera – the same one that’s notorious for torture. Nsenga also is suffering the same fate in the same place.
According to observers, the arrest of these Rwandans and the subsequent story “broken” by Red Pepper, serves the purpose of smearing Rwanda, despite even the recent Luanda Memorandum of Understanding to desist from such hostile propaganda. It is part of the continued harassment of Rwandans by Ugandan security, which also is contrary to articles of the MoU, which say such harassment should cease.
Propaganda articles such as the Red Pepper smear against Kigali also appears to serve a political purpose for the Museveni regime. In the article they quote Col. Bagyenda claiming that “their security intelligence has established that ‘some Ugandan politicians had met in Kampala to plot mayhem” with the aim of ‘triggering a people’s revolution’ to topple Museveni.”
It may appear that the dragnet in which the two Rwandans were abducted is intended as another smokescreen – to drag Rwanda into political problems of Museveni’s own doing. A pattern has emerged whereby Museveni and his system vilify and scapegoat Rwanda, with the intention to take some of the pressure off Museveni.
The Red Pepper’s anti-Rwanda hit piece is only the latest in that strategy.