Five of the seven Rwandans who were recently kidnapped by Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) were yesterday dumped at the Gatuna border after two weeks of torture while incommunicado in CMI cells.
Hubert Munyangaju Umugwaneza, Fred Turatsinze, Vanessa Gasaro, Jessica Muhongerwa and Dinah Kamikazi (all businessmen and women) were separately picked up from their business premises in Uganda at gunpoint.
The victims narrated the abuse to members of the media who attended the press conference in Kigali immediately after they were picked up from the Gatuna border post.
“On the night of December 16, I was at my aunt’s pub that I manage in Mbarara,” Ms. Muhongerwa, 29 , recalled the horror. “A man and a woman came in and started pushing tables around. This seemingly provocative act drew my attention. I moved closer to ask what was going on and immediately another uniformed soldier also entered. They put me at gunpoint, confiscated my phone and pushed me in their car along with another employee. They immediately used our jackets to blindfold us in a very ruthless and painful manner.”
The captors drove around Mbarara picking up people and piling them in the car. They were taken to different cells and kept there. “They started to question me on the fourth day,” she told the press.
“No single day did I see the sun, I was blindfolded all throughout until this (yesterday) morning.”
They repeatedly asked her if she knows or is related to anyone in the Rwandan army and whether she communicate with them. She said she did know anyone in the army, at least not anyone she is in touch with. But they insisted that she was not telling the truth, “they would assault me and threaten more violence if I didn’t admit to knowing the soldiers,” she remembers, a situation that she described as intense.
Dinah “Aunt” Kamikazi was questioned about knowing Rwandan government officials. She was stripped naked and psychologically tortured with electrocution. She told this to members of the press:
“One of the nights, I was moved to a room that was filled with water on the floor; they stripped me naked and make me sit down. I was told to confess that I have connection with officials in Rwanda and that if I don’t, they were to place a live electric wire in the water and electrocute me to death. I begged for my life and told them the truth that I don’t have any connections with officials in Rwanda, luckily they did take my life but they were on the verge of doing so.”
Umugwaneza was picked up in Kampala by eight armed men in civilian clothes who placed him on gun point and threatened to shoot him should he sound the alarm.
“They rounded me up and forced me into a waiting car. They removed my shirt and used it to blindfold me and I remained blindfolded the whole night,” Umugwaneza said.
Umugwaneza was held in a dark, underground, cell at CMI headquarters at Mbuya Military Barracks. He was severely assaulted by officers who kept demanding that he confesses to having been “involved” but without telling him what exactly they wanted him to admit to have been involved in.
“At one point the pain was so unbearable that I decided to buy some time by speaking French,” he told the journalists present. “That’s the moment they hit me with something very heavy on my chest and I fell down.”
It was not until later on that day they told him what his being “involved” was about. It was about Joel Mutabazi, “I totally had no clue about it. I kept telling them this but they were never prepared to believed me. So they continued to torture me. All this went on while I was blindfolded,” he told a press corps.
Turatsinze was arrested from his Dairy business in Mbarara and also detained at Mbuya Military Barracks. While there he found another Businessman of Rwandan origin called Johnson Nunu, who was recently kidnapped from Ntungamo also by CMI.
After the blindfolds were removed at night when they were using the toilet. Nuunu had introduced himself to Turatsinze and told him that he also didn’t know why he had been detained. “When the guards heard us speaking, they immediately separated us and moved us to different cells,” said Turatsinze.
All of them were questioned about being Rwandan soldiers, knowing them, or being spy agents and were tortured until they would confess. Also all of them were held incommunicado, denied family and consular visits, as well as access to legal services until the wee hours of December 29 (after 2 weeks of detention) when CMI moved them to Kireka police station where they were told that police would release them on bond.
The following day they were loaded into a vehicle heading to Gatuna where they were dumped for collection.
Just recently another Rwandan, Fidele Gatsinzi, was brutally tortured and dumped at the border. These five Rwandans who are back have also suffered the same fate. Now they must start afresh because they have had to abandon their property including businesses in Uganda and are now pleading with the Rwandan government to intervene on their behalf.
In the meantime more remain languishing incommunicado and torture at the hands of CMI whose aim is to cover-up Uganda’s active involvement in recruiting Rwanda National Congress (RNC) recruits to destabilize Rwanda.