By Alex Muhumuza
Uganda’s notorious Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, CMI, in its continued targeting of Rwandans is now even torturing people of other nationalities, thinking they are from Rwanda. The most recent case is one of Bizimana Stephen Moise, 27, a citizen of DRC.
Up to April last month, Bizimana was a resident of Kanungu District in Uganda, in a place called Butogoto. According to him, he moved from his native DRC to Uganda in 2004, found employment and settled. He even married a Ugandan woman and had children.
Then on the eighth of last month Ugandan policemen suddenly accosted him at his place of work and asked him who he was! Apparently the policemen thought he was Rwandan because, they assumed, the name “Bizimana” is only for Rwandans. He narrates that they began raining kicks and slaps on him when he told them he was Congolese.
“They wanted me to say I am a Munyarwanda, by force!”
Bizimana hadn’t known he was in great danger just because of his name. A few years ago when Ugandan ruler Museveni got into bed with Kayumba Nyamwasa’s RNC, a group that has openly declared war on Rwanda, and on the citizens of Rwanda, he chose open hostility against Rwanda.
When Museveni got into bed with RNC he also began working with FDLR, another anti-Rwanda terrorist group. It is the offshoot of the forces that perpetrated the Genocide against the Tutsi. When Museveni began partnering with these groups whose aim is to bring violence, and instability to Rwanda, innocent Rwandans travelling to, or resident in, Uganda were endangered.
Bizimana, a Congolese, fell victim to the hostile anti-Rwanda policy of Kampala, which has been stepped up with misinformation and propaganda delivered through almost all Kampala’s media organs.
The Congolese narrates that when the policemen came for him, It was as if they wanted to kill him already, just because, they thought he was a Munyarwanda. He says they frog-marched him to the jail at Butogoto police, where they kept him for a couple of days. Then, he says, some soldiers came and drove him to a military barracks.
Bizimana says all the time they were insisting he is a Rwandan, and physically assaulting him – with slaps, kicks and sticks. But the man was adamant that he was from DR Congo. “But every time I said I was Congolese, they would beat me harder!” He continues that after a few days at the military barracks, they put him in a vehicle that drove him to Kireka CMI-affiliated Police Station in Kampala.
The abduction of Bizimana was conducted in the usual CMI way. They do not bother with legal ways of doing things. They merely surround a victim, ask his name, and order him to get into their vehicle, usually one with dark-tinted glasses. Once inside, they throw “some sort of big hat over your head, then you can no longer see!” That is the notorious hood. They then handcuff the victim and drive off.
A Rwandan pastor that suffered a month of torture in CMI custody told this news website: “to arrive at CMI is like coming to the house of Satan! They beat people badly! When they took me, they ordered me to lie on the floor and poured ice water on me. Just a few meters away, I could hear the cries of tortured people, begging for mercy.
“God help Ugandans because Satan is amidst them, at Mbuya!”
For Bizimana, when they arrived at Kireka the story was the same. Kireka is a police station affiliated to CMI. “They were beating people, Banyarwanda, very badly! There was crying and pleading!” Bizimana was in detention a month and two weeks.
He said at Kireka the torture was worse than in the barracks where he had been. “They would place a very heavy metal weight on me, until I just confessed to them that I was a Munyarwanda, so as not to die!” he exclaimed. “I even confessed things I didn’t know myself!”
He added that the torture also included operatives pulling his ears, “until I felt my ears were tearing off! Bizimana even decided to begin inventing districts in Rwanda, to show that he “truly was Munyarwanda!”
Going by all the stories Rwandan survivors of CMI (and ISO and other security agencies), one of the main aims of the torture is to find out if there is “anything” the victim knows about Rwandan security forces. One Damascene from Musanze – who endured two months in CMI detention in December last year – said they wanted to know about “the living conditions”, “the salaries” or “the morale”, of RDF soldiers and Rwandan Policemen.
The other main reason of all the abductions of Rwandans is as a way to recruit for RNC. Those they abduct, especially the ones that look young, in their early twenties or below, they torture to make them agree to join RNC.
In most cases, the torturers are RNC operatives that speak fluent Kinyarwanda.
Other Rwandans, especially the more well off, may be abducted and falsely accused of being “spies” or entering Uganda “illegally”. In a number of cases, these are Rwandan nationals that have been approached by CMI and RNC agents, ordering them to begin contributing funds, or materiel to RNC. Such people may be businessmen, prosperous farmers, and the like.
When one says they can’t be party to RNC activities, they find themselves abducted, with charges of “spying”, “illegal entry” or “illegal weapons possession”. Others who have fallen victim to criminal CMI operatives include Darius Kayobera, kidnapped with his wife from their business premises in Kampala in January this year, or Emmanuel Rwamucyo, Augustine Rutayisire, and many more.
Such operatives are capitalizing on the Museveni regime’s hostility against Rwandans to target well-off Rwandans in Uganda and rob them of their money and property. Then they pretend they are “arresting Kigali spies”.
“Miraculously”, Bizimana says, they released him from Kireka with two Rwandans. Upon arriving at Kagitumba, when Rwandan authorities asked him whether he is Rwandan, Bizimana said “Yes!” He would rather lie than risk the possibility being sent back to Uganda!
But Rwandan authorities found out he was Congolese, and took steps to hand him back to DRC. That was on Wednesday, 29 May. Bizimana expressed gratitude for the humane way Rwanda treated him.
“Uganda’s hatred of Rwanda has reached an extent where Uganda kidnaps, incarcerates, tortures and deports other African nationals misguidedly thinking they are Rwandans!” exclaimed Lewis Mugabe, a Rwandan on Twitter.