By Prossy Boonabana
I’m writing in response to the Rwandan junior Minister of foreign affairs, Hon. Olivier Nduhungirehe and the purported victim of Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI), Mr Fidel Gatsinzi about their accusations levelled against Ugandan government and it’s security agencies of harassing Rwandans in Uganda.
Let me just say I picked kin interest in the story of Gatsinzi partly because he claims to be a victim of the security agencies in Uganda, just like my husband, Rwema Gendarme is the victim of security agencies in Rwanda.
But unlike Gatsinzi who was briefly arrested in Uganda and later deported back to Rwanda, my own husband was kidnapped from Uganda in 2015 by Rwandan agents and has since been held incommunicado undergoing torture both physically and mentally and this has equally had a reserve effect to me and his entire family in particular his children who have had to live without him for this long.
Just like you Mr Gatsinzi, Rwema is not a young man because is in his mid 50s and I strongly believe he feels the same pain and betrayal against your government just like your claims about the Ugandan government.
Mr Gatsinzi, unlike Rwama who has never gotten involved in subversive activities against Rwanda and is Congolese national (Munyamulenge), there is sufficient evidence through SMS, whatsapp messages, and audios on your part of being a participant and agent of the Rwandan government against Rwandan refugees and Ugandans of Rwandan decent in Uganda.
Your subversive involvement and conspiracy in the kidnap, murder and illegally repatriation of Rwandan refugees from Uganda is a manifestation of a total erosion of your much claimed cadreship to the government of a country that you call your second home.
Therefore, I would like to inform Mr Gatsinzi that the feeling of betrayal is mutual and as both victims of this we are charged with the obligation of asking our respective governments the question.
How did we reach here?
Just like me, there are dozens of women victims and children who have directly or indirectly suffered and endured the repressive activities of the Rwandan Government assassins inside Uganda with support from top Ugandan Police Senior Leadership (now under detention) and we are happy that the Ugandan government took our concerns seriously and is now addressing the issue by curtailing the subversive activities of your agents against Rwandan in Uganda.
Together with these victims we also express our grave concerns as witnesses and victims who have either been directly harassed or seen our husbands, relatives and friends been murdered, tortured/beaten, kidnapped or illegally deported by Rwandan agents.
Some of these victims are Ugandans who have refused to be used by the Rwandan security in repressive activities against the targets in Uganda or are Rwandan refugees running from the repressive regime in Kigali and who have either sought asylum in Uganda and/or are in transit in Uganda awaiting opportunity to seek refuge in other countries.
I also note that the obligation of states to guarantee the basic human rights and physical security to its citizens and all its residents but also extends to refugees and asylum seekers in their territories.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee has expressly affirmed that all civil and political rights must be guaranteed by states without discrimination between citizens and aliens.
The internationally recognized rights that refugees and asylum-seekers enjoy include the fundamental right to life, liberty and security of person, the right to be free from torture and other cruel or degrading treatment, the right not to be discriminated against, and the right of access to the courts.
Refugees like citizens or other residents are also entitled to protection from refoulement and expulsion.
Asylum seekers may not be summarily returned without giving them access to full and fair asylum procedures.
The doctrine of non-refoulement is now recognized as a norm of customary international law of universal application, and it applies to all government agents acting in an official capacity, within or outside their national territory.
All persons are also protected under international human rights law from return to any country where they would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
It’s my affirmation that the arrests of any of these refugees or asylum seekers for any suspected crime expressed by their tormenters in the country of origin must be subjected to transparent and accountable legal process for equitable justice.
It’s also my conviction that any reported kidnap and murder should be fully investigated and such reports made public for confidence building and security of the victims or targets of the Rwandan regime agents.
Mr. Gatsinzi, people abandon their families, livelihoods and belongings to go into exile because of legitimate fears of persecution by the Rwandan regime.
There are very compelling reasons why Rwandan citizens, including those who only returned to Rwanda in 1994, are again flocking to Uganda and other countries seeking refuge, and joining large numbers of Rwandan refugees already scattered around the globe.
The Rwanda Government, from which these refugees are fleeing in ever increasing numbers, is a dictatorship and a brutal regime.
It is now universally recognized that the regime subjects political opposition, human rights defenders, journalists and critics of the government in general, to persecution including threats, intimidation, arbitrary arrests and detentions, politically motivated trials, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings.
And the Kigali regime has as a result extended or exported its repressive activities to other countries including Uganda to silence its critics with either direct coordination from the Rwanda National Intelligence and Security Services in Kigali or through its High Commissions/embassies which have been turned into terrorism cells.
Agents of the Government of Rwanda refugees even go beyond the jurisdiction of Rwanda.
In 2010, the United Kingdom Metropolitan Police Service took the extra-ordinary step of warning some members of an opposition Rwanda group living in the United Kingdom of an imminent attack against them by agents of the Rwanda government.
The notification of the Metropolitan Police Service reads, in part:
‘Reliable intelligence states that the Rwanda Government poses an imminent threat to even some of High Profile Ugandan political and military leaders. The threat could come in any form. ….You should be aware of other high profile cases where action such as this has been conducted in the past. Conventional and unconventional means have been used’.
Rwandan refugees have been targets of abortive and successful assassinations, abductions, disappearances in many countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique, Belgium and the United Kingdom. Seth Sendashonga, who resigned as Minister of Interior in August 1995 in protest over massacres of innocent civilians, was assassinated in Nairobi, Kenya in 1998.
Theoneste Lizinde, an army Officer was assassinated in Nairobi, Kenya in 1997.
General Kayumba Nyamwasa, a former Army Chief, has survived several assassination attempts in South Africa in 2010.
On 26 December 2010, FDU-Inkingi member Jerome Ndagijimana in Kampala was killed.
Charles Ingabire, journalist, was murdered in Kampala, Uganda in December 2011.
In May 2013, Aime Ntabana,
who had taken refuge in Uganda, was abducted from Kampala by Rwandan intelligence operatives and has never been traced since that time.
In August 2013, Innocent Kalisa, an exiled former member of the Rwandan security forces was reported missing in Uganda.
His whereabouts and the circumstances in which he disappeared remain unknown.
On 25 October 2013, Lt Joel Mutabazi, a former member of President Kagame’s protection force, was abducted by agents of the government of Uganda and handed over to the Government of Rwanda.
Lt Mutabazi’s abduction and illegal rendition to Rwanda was the culmination of a long history of dereliction of the duty from some former senior police officials in collaboration with Rwandan intelligence agents.
Joel Mutabazi, who fled Rwanda in 2011 after enduring 17 months of solitary confinement and torture, had previously been a target of an assassination attempt by Rwandan agents.
Other known Rwandan refugees who have been targeted in Uganda include: Kimonyo Emmanuel killed on 10 January 2012 in Mbarara; Ndagijimana Jerome, in Kabalagala,Kampala on 25 December 2011; Gatera John, killed in 2011 in Mbarara; Niyonzima Eric , gunned down on 29 September 2010 in Makindye/ Kampala; Joseph Karushya, abducted from Nakivale Camp and found dead in River Nile in Jinja in July 2010; Ndahiro Aloys, strangled to death by Rwandan Operatives on 14 July 2010 in Nakivale Settlement Center; Mukangarambe Mélanie, shot dead by Ugandan Police on 14 July 2010; Mugenzi, shot dead by Ugandan Police on 14 July 2010 in Nakivale Settlement Center; Mutuyimana Agnes, disemboweled on 14 July 2010 in Nakivale Settlement Center; Muhire, killed on 14 July 2010 in Nakivale Settlement Center; Mukeshimana: killed on 14 July 2010 in Nakivale Settlement Center; Mutoni, killed on 14 July 2010 in Nakivale Settlement Center; Nyirakamana Cecile, killed on 14 July 2010 in Nakivale Settlement Center; Mukamana (with her two children) who died following beatings by Ugandan Police while she (Mukamana) was trying to rescue her kids from a stampede on 14 July 2010 in Nakivale Settlement Center; Mugisha Silas, killed by Ugandan Police July 14, 2010 in Nakivale Settlement Center; Kanamugire Jean Paul, who died following floggings by Ugandan Police on 14 July 2010 in Nakivale Settlement Center; Dusingizimana Pacifique, killed on 14 July 2010 in Nakivale Settlement Center; Kimonyo who died following mutilation of his genitals by a razor wire, which makes up the fence around offices of UNHCR, on 14 July 2010 in Nakivale Settlement Center; and Hategekimana Jean Marie killed on 18 February 2010 in Kyangwali Settlement Center.
Uganda, on account of both historical reasons and practical considerations, is the country through which most refugees fleeing Rwanda pass or even opt to live as many of these fleeing Rwandans still have families or relatives here and therefore, Uganda is a second home to many Rwandans.
Uganda therefore as a State has a duty to protect and assist these Rwandan refugees from their Rwandan predators.
You Gatsinzi and many of your government officials including your president complaining about arrests of Rwandans why didnt you complain when Rwandan refugees were being murdered and kidnapped by your agents?
The majority of Rwandans are actually feeling safer after CMI uprooting these Rwandan terrorist cells in Uganda and your complaint against Uganda is not because government is harassing Rwandans or has a policy against Rwandans but more to the fact that you have been derived a free will to continue terrorizing Rwandan refugees or Ugandans of Rwandan decent perceived by your government as enemies.
More still needs to be done. The cells have to spread to every part of Ugandan society for final end and uprooting of Rwandan agents from perpetuating their terrorism activities in Uganda.
Therefore, before you start blaming Uganda of bad neighborliness, ask yourself what has been your role as a former cadre of both governments and as a resident of Uganda that even still has a home in Uganda with your children receiving their education in Ugandan institutions?
Ask your government first to be a good neighbor and to practice what they preach before extending lectures to Ugandan government and propagating fear among the peoples of the two historical nations.