Rwanda says the recent wave of arrests of Rwandans inside Uganda and unlawful deportations are in total violation of the agreement signed by Rwanda and Uganda in August in Angola, known as the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding.
Reacting to the latest illegal deportation of 33 people by Ugandan authorities on Tuesday night, Rwanda’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in charge of the East African Community (EAC) Ambassador Olivier Nduhungirehe said that what Uganda is doing is in violation of the Luanda agreement and the Kigali resolutions which were meant to address issues between the two countries.
“The recent wave of arrests and deportations is an escalation of the crisis by the Ugandan government, in total disrespect of the Luanda MoU,” Nduhungirehe told KT Press.
The 33, who include women, were dumped at Cyanika, Musanze district, on Tuesday night, narrating tales of torture and mistreatment inside Uganda.
The latest group to be deported included people who have lived and done business legally inside Uganda with proper documents for a long time and were simply detained and later deported because they are Rwandans.
Rwanda has also dismissed reports by government-affiliated media houses in Uganda that the deported or arrested people are asylum seekers who fled Rwanda, clarifying that they are people who have lived in Uganda for long, legally doing business like any other East Africans.
Minister Nduhungirehe described the reports as fake news being spread by propaganda outlets with the aim of justifying the illegal actions by Ugandan authorities.
“They were already living in Uganda and were rounded up. 34 of them were arrested for “illegal entry”. Just fake news as usual,” Nduhungirehe said of the earlier group.
According to the Governor of Northern Province, Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi, the 33 were brought from Kisoro town aboard a truck and dumped at the border point.
“The 33 were detained in Kisoro Prison from where they were loaded on truck and driven to the border. They were deprived of all their belongings, some were separated from spouses. They informed us that they left many others in jail,” Gatabazi said.
Dancille Mukarugwiza, one of the people deported said she was evicted from her land where she was doing farming, which she had acquired. She said she was handcuffed and beaten before being locked h up and later deported to Rwanda, leaving behind her husband and children.
“I lost everything I had, including my children and husband. Life in jail was difficult. We were given very bad food, mainly a meal of weevil-infested beans and posho for 24 hours. There was no water and we were regularly tortured and reminded that we are from Rwanda,” Mukarugwiza said.
Another deportee identified as Jean Paul Habiyaremye told KT Press that he was picked during a round up of Rwandans in a western Uganda town where he was running a tailoring business, as he headed to Kampala to buy materials.
“I have been running my tailoring business in Uganda since 2011 without any problem until when CMI ordered the arrest of Rwandans. I was picked up without anything. They told us that we would be jailed for 3 years or fined Ugx 3 million if we don’t surrender whatever we had,”
“They told us they don’t want us in Uganda anymore. They took everything we had, even if you had proper documents,” he said.
The deportees requested the government to help them recover their properties and money which was taken from them by soldiers and police. Majority of those deported last night were arrested during an operation mounted by Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) and Uganda Police.
At least 200 Rwandans have been rounded up in recent operations, majority of whom reportedly remain in jail.
Rwanda and Uganda are expected to agree on a new date for the second meeting of the Adhoc Commission to follow up on the implementation of the Luanda Agreement after the November 18 date was called off on Kigali’s request.