More than 40 Rwandan nationals have been arrested in the Ugandan capital of Kampala in an operation mounted by the country’s military intelligence operatives.
Daily Monitor reported Wednesday that the Rwandans had been seized from a church in Kibuye suburb in a security swoop by the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, with support from the Police.
It was not immediately clear why CMI raided the church and arrested the Rwandans with the Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango telling the newspaper that the police only “played a supportive role”, and referred them to his “senior colleague in the UPDF (Ugandan army spokesperson Brig Richard Karemire), who declined to comment.
"This is an ongoing operation, I cannot give details right now because it will jeopardize the operation," Brig Karemire was quoted as saying by the Ugandan newspaper.
However, quoting an unidentified source, the outlet said that the suspects “were a security threat but it did not elaborate on the nature of threat they posed.”
"Most of the people we arrested were Rwandans but they had Ugandan National identification cards which were found to be fake," the source reportedly said.
Rwanda’s state minister for East African Community affairs Olivier Nduhungirehe declined to comment when contacted for this story on Wednesday, referring us to the country’s High Commission in Kampala. We are still trying to get a comment from the embassy.
Nonetheless, arbitrary arrests of Rwandans in Uganda have become commonplace in recent years with Kigali saying that hundreds of its nationals are languishing in ungazetted detention facilities mostly run by CMI.
Many of those who have been deported – often with no charge despite spending months or years behind bars – have narrated how they had been subjected to physical torture in CMI’s ‘safe houses’ with three of the victims, including a couple that welcome a baby while in one of the detention centres, suing the Ugandan government.
The three Rwandans have lodged their case with the East African Court of Justice – part of the judicial arm of the regional six-nation East African Community bloc – seeking compensation.
Some of the victims have accused Uganda’s security of seizing their identification and travel documents only to turn around and accuse them of illegal entry.
Crackdown of Rwandan nationals in Uganda has exacerbated in the wake of growing evidence of Uganda’s support for armed groups seeking the destabilise Rwanda, including genocidal FDLR and RNC with bases in eastern DR Congo.
Testimonies from arrested rebel leaders – including FDLR’s spokesperson Ignace Nkaka, alias LaForge Fils Bazeye, and head of intelligence Lt Col Jean-Pierre Nsekanabo, have provided details of how Uganda is facilitating talks between RNC, FDLR and other anti-Rwanda groups with view to joining hands in destabilising Rwanda. The two were arrested by Congolese security on their way from a meeting with RNC operatives in Kampala. The meeting was attended by a Uganda’s state minister for regional affairs Phelomon Mateke.
A UN report released in December last year confirmed that Uganda was a major source of recruits for Rwandan rebel outfits based in eastern DR Congo.
Kampala has continuously denied this, only claiming that those being arrested were suspected spies. However, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni sensationally admitted in a letter to his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame in March that he had “accidentally” met leaders of one of the armed groups at his office in Kampala.
FDLR is an offshoot of the forces that committed that 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda in which over a million people lost their lives, while RNC is a terrorist group formed by dissidents and is blamed for grenade attacks that killed at least 17 people and wounded some 400 others in Rwanda between 2010 and 2014.
In March, Rwanda issued a travel advisory to Uganda saying it could no longer guarantee the safety of its citizens while there.
Angola and DR Congo earlier this month offered to help broker talks to end the crisis following a mini-regional summit in Luanda.