Rwandan national dies following torture in Uganda

By The New Times

Emmanuel Mageza.

The case of Emmanuel Mageza – the Rwandan that has been reported in the Ugandan media as having been “found dead” outside Butabika Hospital, an old mental health facility in Kampala – only is one of many that continue to come to light revealing the levels of inhuman behavior by operatives of Ugandan security organs targeting Rwandan nationals.

It also once again highlights lawlessness on the part of Ugandan authorities in abetting arrests – abductions in fact, with no legal or due procedure – of countless Rwandans and holding them incommunicado.

Our inquiries reveal that after almost a year of relentless torture in CMI’s main dungeon in Mbuya, Mageza, who was born in DRC in 1969, lost his mental health.

The unending, extreme physical abuse drove him over the edge, and “he just lost his mind, raving all over the place”.

Those familiar with the case say the usual thing for CMI operatives would have been to kill Mageza and dump his body.

Instead, they took him to Butabika, perhaps thinking he could get better since the lead lawyer of illegally detained Rwandans in Uganda, Eron Kiiza was hounding CMI to produce his client.

In fact if it were not for the tireless efforts of the attorney, this act of Ugandan security agents of abducting and detaining the national of another country without the authorities notifying it (Rwanda) would have gone unnoticed.

Under international obligations and conventions, it was the duty of Ugandan authorities to inform Rwanda’s High Commission in Kampala of the detention of Mageza.

They violated it by saying nothing. The Ugandan authorities acted as they have in the case of so many other missing Rwandans.

They simply ignored the many notes verbale the Rwandan high commission sent seeking explanations each time a Rwandan was abducted or went missing.

For some time now, people have been reading how Ugandan Military Intelligence (CMI), Internal Security Organisation (ISO), Uganda Police, or the Mbarara-based UPDF Second Division Counterintelligence agents have been arbitrarily arresting Rwandans.

Stories of Rwandans that were abducted in the neighboring country then illegally detained, tortured, and later dumped at the border points have been legion.

Those only are the lucky few that have gotten out alive; individuals who, though they are suffering the trauma of physical and psychological torture, still may manage to pick the pieces of their lives, and move on.

What the public knows little about is that a number of the illegally detained Rwandans have been killed; of that more than a few have lost their minds following torture in Ugandan dungeons and torture houses – the so-called “safe-houses”.

The nine Rwandan detainees recently released by Uganda, some after more than two years in the Mbuya dungeon, are familiar with the case of Mageza.

He was one of the several that Eron Kiiza was pushing to have released.

“But they had already taken him to Butabika,” Nelson Mugabo one of the nine released men told the Kigali media from his bed in Kanombe Hospital where he and fellow former detainees were recuperating.

What happened to Mageza is very similar to the injustices that have befallen those hundreds of Rwandan nationals in Uganda once Kampala began openly working with anti-Rwanda groups, like Kayumba Nyamwasa’s RNC as proxies in Museveni’s ambitions of “regime change in Kigali”.

For the past three years; CMI, ISO and others working hand in hand with RNC agents have been targeting Rwandan citizens travelling to Uganda, or those already resident there.

They’ve abducted many, especially the young and able-bodied, as a strategy to forcefully recruit them into RNC as rebel fighters.

They’ve subjected them to torture that includes beatings with electric cables; starving them for days on end, confining them in stinking toilets, and similar treatment to break them into joining RNC.

Those that refuse – who we’ve come to learn are the vast majority – are subjected to further, more horrific torture.

CMI and RNC agents also, in a strategy to extort funds from well-off Rwandans have approached marked businessmen or women, telling them “to contribute to regime change in Kigali”.

Again the very many that have said they can’t be part of rebel acts against their government have in some way or other found themselves abducted.

The first day of Mageza’s misfortunes fell in March last year when CMI agents pulled him off a bus in Mbarara.

Before he knew it they had thrown a dark hood over his head and shoved him into their vehicle. Inside, they handcuffed the frightened Rwandan, never bothering to tell him what he was supposed to have done.

This is the standard operating procedure of CMI. This is the approved way of CMI head Brig. Abel Kandiho of arresting people, meaning kidnappings since no legal process is ever involved.

Mageza’s abductors drove him to Makenke Military Barracks in Mbarara, from where they transferred him to CMI headquarters in Mbuya Military Barracks.

This newspaper has talked to, or interviewed by phone dozens of Rwandans that have had the terrible misfortune to be abducted and taken to Mbuya where they were victims of, and eyewitnesses to the inhumanity of interrogators of Uganda’s security organs as well as their RNC henchmen.

Each of these victims has described, in remarkably similar ways the torture methods in the dungeons of Ugandan security agencies.

When CMI is after a person, it sends out three or more agents to get him. They will usually accost this individual anywhere – like they did Rene Rutagungira in a bar in Namirembe Bbakuli – and, before horrified onlookers, drag him away in a commotion of kicks, fisticuffs and yelling and cursing.

Once in the abductors’ vehicle – usually a double cabin pickup with dark-tinted windows – they transport the hooded and handcuffed victim to Mbuya; or to Kireka CMI Police Station; or to the ISO “safe house” in Kyengera; or to any other of a myriad ungazetted places of detention.

In Mbuya, all the victims we’ve talked to described how their torturers first made them stay in a cold, bare corridor, where one would be for weeks, sleeping on the bare hard floor.

“In Mbuya they first asked me who in Kigali had sent me to spy in Uganda!” One Muhawenimana Damascene told this newspaper last year.

“Then the interrogator took me to a room upstairs, where there was another man who forced me to take off my clothes then pushed me into the bath in this room that was filled with ice water. I was just freezing in there!”

In arresting him, no one ever told him why they thought he had been “sent him to spy.”

Others talked of incidents when they saw CMI operatives electrocute their victims, one of the things that happened to Mageza.

“Electrocutions happen in the same room as the ice bath.

“They seat someone naked in a chair, fasten him onto it, then one of the interrogators wearing gloves gets hold of an electric wire – fastened from the wall – and shoves the naked part of it into the soles of the victim. The victim’s eye bulge almost like falling out and he screams unbelievably!” Jean Claude Mucyo, another victim told us.

In addition to the beatings, starvings, ice baths and electrocutions there also is waterboarding, which simulates drowning. People that became insane with pain and try to resist or fight back will be shot.

Mageza was lucky not to be shot, but he still lost his mind, and even when they took him to Butabika he succumbed to his injuries.

Uganda has said nothing about this.

There are many missing Rwandans feared to be dead, or to have lost their mental health among those: Emmanuel Rukundo, Jackson Karangwa, Eric Tumusifu, Uwitonze, Serugendo and others.

Ugandan authorities have said nothing about their fate.

There are yet several other Rwandans illegally detained in Luzira, and various other prisons in Uganda whose situation is completely unknown, whose imprisonment the Ugandan authorities never bothered to bring to the notice of the Rwandan High Commission.

Up to now Kampala is saying nothing about them. Yet, when Mageza’s family learnt of his death, they approached the government of Rwanda to help them repatriate his remains for decent burial.

Observers also point out it is incumbent upon Kampala to hold to account the CMI officers or operatives responsible for torture, and other crimes against Rwandan nationals.

Source: By The New Times

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s