Rwandans at the heart of Uganda-Rwanda row
What you need to know:
- The refugees also accuse Mr Rutagunira of having participated in the kidnap and illegal repatriation to Rwanda of president Paul Kagame’s former bodyguard, Lt Joel Mutabazi, who is serving a life sentence in Rwanda.
- Other Rwandans that the refugees accuse Mr Rutagunira of aiding their kidnap are Sgt Emily Gafirita and Emmy Ntabana, an adopted son of late Col Patrick Karegyeya, a former Rwandan dissident who was killed in South Africa.
Shortly after Rwanda shut its border to goods from Uganda at the end of February, an exchange ensued on Twitter between Mr Ofwono Opondo, the head of Uganda Government Media Centre, and Rwanda’s state minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Olivier Nduhungirehe.
The Rwandan official shared a list of 20 Rwandans who he accused Uganda of holding in detention, especially by Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI).
Rwanda also blocked and advised its citizens against travelling to Uganda because, they claimed, Rwandans were not safe in Uganda.
CMI and the Uganda People’s Defence Forces in general have not said a word about the accusations, with communication about the fallout being mainly managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Some of the Rwandans on the list have been formally charged in courts of law whereas some have not been charged and we could not establish with finality whether Ugandan authorities are holding them as Rwanda claims.
By speaking to Rwandan refugees in Uganda, reviewing court records and interviewing other sources, however, Sunday Monitor has pieced together information on some of the people at the heart of the controversy.
Though the Rwandan State Minister claimed that more than 40 Rwandans had been arrested, they released a list of only 20 people including Mr Rene Rutagungira, who is said to be a member of Rwanda’s notorious hit squad operating in Kampala.
Rwanda wants the group released before they open the border.
Rene Rutagungira is number one on the list that Rwanda shared.
He is currently on remand, facing charges related to the abduction of Rwandan refugees in Uganda and illegally repatriating them to Rwanda, working jointly with rogue police officers in Uganda.
The former police boss, Gen Kale Kayihura, and half dozen of his former top assistants are facing the same charges before the military court.
Rwandan refugees we spoke to claim that Mr Rutagungira is an operative of Rwanda who operated in Uganda.
Rutagungira registered in Uganda as a refugee at the refugee registration centre at Old Kampala Police Station and was granted refugee status in 2003.
The Rwandan refugees add that Mr Rutagungira usually kept the company of some of the Rwandans that Rwandan authorities say are in detention in Uganda, including Darius Kayobera.
The refugees also accuse Mr Rutagunira of having participated in the kidnap and illegal repatriation to Rwanda of president Paul Kagame’s former bodyguard, Lt Joel Mutabazi, who is serving a life sentence in Rwanda.
Other Rwandans that the refugees accuse Mr Rutagunira of aiding their kidnap are Sgt Emily Gafirita and Emmy Ntabana, an adopted son of late Col Patrick Karegyeya, a former Rwandan dissident who was killed in South Africa.
Records from Rwanda National Human Rights Commission identify Mr Rutagungira as a retired army Sergeant, who in 2000 was prosecuted in connection with the mysterious death of a Rwandan businessman identified as Victor Bayingana. He was, however, tried and acquitted.
The Rwandan refugees accuse a number of other Rwandans on the list that was issued by the Rwandan government of participating or masterminding a number of crimes in Uganda, especially relating to kidnap.
The refugees say they have provided a lot of this information to the Ugandan authorities, especially to CMI and before it, to a desk in the President’s office, which Brig Abel Kanduho led before he was made CMI boss.
In their various statements after the impasse started, Rwandans officials have singled out CMI as the body arresting, holding incommunicado and/or torturing their citizens. The Rwandan refugees keep records of their colleagues who they say have been abducted in Uganda and either repatriated back to Rwanda, tortured or killed.
They say they have shared the lists and all the information in their possession with the Ugandan authorities.
Those kidnapped, killed
- Charles Ingabire (journalist) in 2011
- Eric Niyonzima (2011)
- Jerome Ndagijimana (2010)
- Sgt Dominic Nsabagasani (2012)
- Capt Frank Tega (2009)
- Capt Lea Kizungu (2008)
- Capt Augustine Mushimiyimana (2014) Pilot
- Maj Emmanuel Munyaruguru (MP in Norway) (2014)
- Munkunda Emerita (2012)
- Claude Ndeze (2010)
- Gasangayire (2010)
- Pastor Enock Hategekimana (2014)
- Benoit Nizeyimana (2014)
- Oliva Sebakara (2014)
- Shyaka (2014)
- Aidu (2014)
- Kadogo Mugisha (2014)
- Emmanuel Bihoyiki (2014)
- Kubwimana Kayira Benjamin (2014)
- Maj Alphonse Bicamumpaka (2013)
- Godfoid Ndayambaje (2012)
- Cpl Wilson Gumisiriza (2013) bodyguard to late Col Dan Gapfizi
- Edward Sankara (2012)
- Augustin Nyirinkwaya (2012)
- Sgt Alfred Kagwene
Sgt Emily Rwagafirita (2013)
Source: Rwandan refugees in Uganda
Those kidnapped, taken to Rwanda
1. Sgt Innocent Kalisa (2013)
2. Lt Joel Mutabazi (2013)
3. Jackson Karemera (2013)
4. Protais Bigirimfura (2015)
5. Kantarama Anatalie (2015)
6. Maj Emmanuel Kubana
7. Josephine Rorumukobwa (2013)
8. Karim Andu Mutsinzi (2016)
9. Delphina Mukaleta ((2013) wife to Patrick Rukundo.
10. Patrick Rukundo (2013)
11. Eric Rugasura (2013) driven in OPM vehicle to unknown place.
12. Bernard Bizimana (2015)
13. Pascal Manirakiza (2013) kidnapped tortured, dumped in Lusaze cementery, rescued by UNHCR and taken to Mulago now in Sweden.
14. Capt Charles Sibo (2012)
15. Maj Habib Mudhasiru (2014)
16. Dominic Makeli (2012) journalist.
17. Capt Sunday John (2013)
18. Capt Christopher Buzigo (2013)
19. Andrew Muhanguzi (son to Late Maj Bunyenyezi and cousin to Moses Musonera and Sweden based Journalist John Bosco Gasasira of Umuvugizi)
20. Abdu Karim Mutsinzi (2016)
21. 23 women and children of FDRL rebels.
Source: Rwandan refugees in Uganda