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What if Rwanda encouraged victims of Uganda’s torture to form a human rights association?

By The New Times

Before the Uganda-Rwanda crisis intensified Presidents Museveni and Kagame met on the sidelines of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa to talk about the increase in RNC activities in Uganda. Museveni claimed to know nothing about it but promised to look into the matter on his return to Kampala.

The two presidents agreed they would then meet shortly after in Entebbe so Museveni could tell Kagame what he had found out. After the subsequent closed-door meeting in State House Entebbe, on 25 March 2018, the two presidents had a joint press conference.

As he often does when confronted with a matter he wishes to avoid, Museveni turned jocular, diverting attention from the subject. He claimed the problem between the two countries was a small misunderstanding that could easily have been avoided by officials of both countries picking up a phone to call each other.

He made jokes about “this thing called a phone.” Kagame kept quiet, probably out of respect for his host, but one could read from his face he was uncomfortable with what were clear lies from his colleague.

During the Entebbe press conference, Museveni had at least admitted to one important thing, his government’s facilitation in the recruitment and movement of RNC, “A group of Banyarwanda were being recruited through Tanzania and Burundi to go to Congo. They said they were going for church-work, but when they were interrogated it was found the work wasn’t exactly religious. It was something else,” Museveni said in reference to the 46 RNC recruits that had been intercepted at the Kikagati border by immigration officers in December 2017.

Immigration officials became suspicious when the young men, who were carrying forged travel documents, couldn’t stick to the script regarding the reasons for their travel. Under interrogation, they confessed that Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) had issued them the fake travel documents and had coached them on what to tell anyone who might ask. They also admitted to be RNC recruits.

The work they were doing “wasn’t exactly religious,” Museveni said in his own admission of RNC support. Fast forward two years later, Museveni’s jokes have led to people being harassed, tortured, and some dying. Yet, he still supports people whose work “isn’t exactly humanitarian.”

A few days back, on 24 February, President Museveni met RNC members at State House – the same place where he had received President Kagame in March 2018 – and confessed to his government’s support of the RNC.

This time, Museveni was pretending to want to remind them formally that their work must not be political; that given the accusations from the Rwandan government, they should only stick to “humanitarian work.” Just as he pretended with the 2017 RNC recruits, it is a certainty Museveni will soon claim he came to find out only later that their work was not exactly humanitarian.

Uganda has been mobilizing and organizing groups to destabilize Rwanda and encouraging them to hide under cover of refugees, gospel, and, now, humanitarian groups. Pastor Deo Nyirigira, the head of the RNC Uganda province, runs the terrorist organization’s recruitment base at his AGAPE church in Mbarara.

His son, Felix Mwizerwa, was at the scene of the Kikagati saga and soon went to the DRC where he was a commander before fleeing from there and returning to Mbarara following groups heavy beating at the hands of FARDC forces.

Dr. Sam Ruvuma, President Museveni’s cousin and brother to Lt Col Gideon Katinda of Uganda’s military court-martial, who – like Mwizerwa – fled the Kikagati scene, is similarly active in RNC recruitment in Mbarara. He is reported to have received Ben Rutabana, the RNC’s disappeared (presumed incarcerated in a CMI “safe house”) head for capacity development, at Entebbe airport, according to the latter’s wife who says that her last communication with him was on Dr. Ruvuma’s cell phone.

Sande Mugisha, Sulah Nuwamanya, Rukundo Rugari, Prossy Boonabana are others who have been mobilized as operatives in Uganda’s scheme to destabilize Rwanda.

On Thursday, 5 March 2020, the now out of favor Ugandan General, Henry Tumukunde, who was active in the harassment of Rwandans in Uganda, was quoted in the media saying, “If I was Rwanda, I would support people who want to cause change in Uganda,” suggesting that Rwanda should return the favor and do what Uganda is already doing to it through its support to the RNC and other groups that hide behind gospel and humanitarian work.

For Rwanda, it would actually be easier. The people who have been victims in Uganda sure have a genuine cause; they were abducted, detained, and tortured without cause. Some of them lost businesses they had spent all their fortunes on, and are now back to eking out a living.

Silas Hategekimana died from physical and psychological torture in CMI torture chambers in 2019. His family and relatives surely have every reason for redress. Fidele Gatsinzi was detained in December 2017 and severely tortured to near death and needed a wheelchair to move.

Emmanuel Mageza was mentally broken as a result of extreme torture, dying after being admitted to Butabika mental hospital. Ugandan authorities hastily buried him in a common grave without the permission of his family, consulting Rwanda’s consular representatives in Uganda or carrying out a post mortem to ascertain the cause of death.

Julienne Kayirere was detained and tortured; her one-month-old baby, Joanna Imanirakiza, was taken away by Ugandan security operatives. Ugandan authorities have to date failed to return her baby to her.

Emmanuel Cyemayire was detained by CMI on direct instructions of RNC’s Deo Nyirigira in Mbarara, transferred to CMI headquarters in Mbuya, where he narrowly escaped death.

Moses Ishimwe Rutare was held incommunicado in CMI dungeons; when seen again, he was severely malnourished and could barely stand on his feet.

In September 2019, Uganda dumped a group of 32 Rwandan nationals who had also been arbitrarily arrested, held incommunicado and tortured. On 24 December, Uganda dumped another group of 13 Rwandans at the border; they too showed extensive torture marks, following brutal detention.

Jean de Dieu Singirankabo, an ADEPR pastor, was water-boarded, immersed in icy water, electrocuted and beaten. They sawed off his penis, though luckily it did not fall off entirely. Rene Rutagungira, Herman Nzeyimana, Nelson Mugabo, Etienne Nsanzabahizi, Emmanuel Rwamucyo, Augustine Rutayisire, Adrien Munyagabe, Gilbert Urayeneza, and Claude Iyakaremye spent over two years each undergoing systematic and severe torture in CMI chambers. The list goes on and on.

If these victims of torture formed a “human rights” organization that targeted President Museveni’s government, they would have a legitimate cause unlike those that are being fronted by Uganda without any case against Rwanda.

However, Rwanda wouldn’t support them to destabilize Uganda despite the fact that they have actually been victimized by it. Rwanda has restrained itself from acts aimed at destabilizing Uganda, to pay back the provocations in kind, in the interest of doing all necessary to try to mend relations with its neighbor, which is among the key reasons it could not support Tumukunde’s desperate suggestion.

Source: The New Times

Link: What if Rwanda encouraged victims of Uganda’s torture to form a human rights association?

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