March 2, 2019

Blindfolded at 4am, Another Rwandan is Deported by Uganda

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Kwizera Fred is one of about 7 Rwandans who have been deported in a similar manner

He was picked up on a Friday from a church at noon on October 12, 2018 in rural Busiro county of Wakiso district, just outside the capital Kampala.

At 4am (3am Rwandan time) on Thursday February 28 coming to Friday, Kwizera Fred was called out of a Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) manned cell in Mbuya baracks. He was removed with Kayibanda Rogers, whose story we ran yesterday.

The two were blindfolded and handcuffed together, put into a van – beginning an hours-long journey. They could hear people speaking but could not know how many they were until they reached a Mbarara bush where they were allowed to ease themselves.

From this Mbarara short-call, the blindfolds were not put back. They could slightly see through some of the heavily tinted windows. But they remained in the cuffs. 

It is then that they knew they were traveling with 3 soldiers in military uniform, and 2 in civilian clothing – who Kwizera says were Ugandan immigration officials.

Soft-spoken, Kwizera who was a farmer in Busiro, says men arrived at their church on the fateful day of arrest, asked him to come out. When the pastor intervened, he was told Kwizera was going some questioning. Many Rwandans live in that region. That was the last time they saw him.

In Mbuya baracks, Kwizera was kept in a cell with other people he says were Rwandans – more than 80, he said. He stayed here going through constant interrogations, beatings and starvation.

On December 25, as the whole world celebrated Christmas, Kwizera was moved to a separate chamber with heavy concrete walls and massive doors. No sound could go out.

There, his ankles were beaten repeatedly with a hammer, sticks placed between his fingers and squeezed – causing excruciating pain. At some point, his hands were tied to a rope in the roof, a spot he stood for 2 days.

There was also a period he was not given food for a period he said was “more than a week”.

When The Chronicles met Kwizera for this exclusive interview, he was moving with help of two people holding him by the armpits. He says he feels terrible pain from the ankles, which makes him unable to walk unaided.

He told us he has no feeling in the left arm, and not much of a feeling on the left side of his body. It suggests he could be developing paralysis.

Kwizera tells us he feels severe chest pain and has trouble breathing, pointing out that when he arrived in Rwanda, he asked for medical scan.

Back in the transport van from Kampala to Mbarara, 34year-old and father of 4 children says he and colleague Kayibanda did not say anything throughout the journey to Kagitumba border.

Their guards talked and laughed all the way – often narrating to each other how often they have traveled such long journeys.

At Kagitumba, Kwizera and Kayibanda were taken to Uganda immigration office – Kwizera telling The Chronicles, “we signed on 4 pages, moved to no-man’s land and handed to Rwandan people.”

It marked the end of his five-month ordeal.

So far, less than 7 people have been deported in a similar manner.  

Kwizera Fred is not on the list of 20 names identified by a Government of Rwanda list below as Rwandans illegally detained in Uganda.

The foreign affairs minister Dr Richard Sezibera said yesterday that Rwandans are advised “NOT” to travel to Uganda.

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