Uganda: tortured in prison, Bizimana narrates his ordeal
Frank Bizimana was deported on Tuesday having spent more than a year in a jail in Ntungamo where he was physically and physiologically tortured.
In April last year, Frank Bizimana was arrested in Ntungamo, in Western Uganda and accused of illegal entry into the country even as he insists he had entered through official channels. The deportation of the 31-year old follows another of five Rwandans last weekend who said they were subjected to slavery in Uganda for 16 months. Bizimana, the father of one, had travelled to Uganda’s capital Kampala to buy clothes to restock his small scale business.
He was deported on Tuesday having spent more than a year in a jail in Ntungamo where he was physically and physiologically tortured. The resident of Rwinkwavu Sector in Kayonza District narrated his ordeal to reporters in Kigali on Thursday.
“What I can tell Rwandans who go there (Uganda) in search of money and wealth is that the principal source of wealth is life. The second is our own hands as we can work to attain whatever we want, in our own country,” Bizimana said, noting that Rwandans can do without an unwelcoming Uganda. Travelling to Uganda where Rwandans’ lives are threatened, he explained, is foolhardy.
On arrest, he was taken to a court in Ntungamo where he was found guilty of illegal entry and handed a two-year jail term. He appealed, leading to the reduction of the sentence to one year.
“I had a very bad time in jail,” Bizimana says. In addition to the daily beatings, he disclosed; “I contracted tuberculosis from there.”
“There is a term called black mamba, or electric cables. This is what they used to beat us all the time.” Moreover, while in prison, Bizimana said he never cowed. In spite of the torture, he was relentless in demanding for his rights.
Unexpectedly, on Tuesday afternoon, prison authorities told him to go bring his countrymen with whom he had been jailed. They were going to be set free, he was told. When he was arrested, the garments dealer had Rwf370,000 and UgShs60,000 on him.
Ugandan authorities confiscate personal belongings and money from Rwandans but do not return them – neither his money nor other belongings including his national ID were returned when he was eventually set free.
“Unfortunately, because of my bad luck, all my money never benefitted me. It was taken, together with my phones and other things, by the police officers. When they took me, I had given the money to an officer called Arinaitwe. That was the name written on his uniform.”
“When I was set free, he had been transferred to another place. When I asked about my belongings, the others kicked me and told me that a Rwandan should ask for nothing.”
Like hundreds other Rwandans, Bizimana’s bad luck came about because relations between the two countries have worsened with Kampala now secretly and openly supporting anti-Kigali armed groups, including RNC and FDLR.
The RNC, a terrorist group headed by fugitive Kayumba Nyamwasa, is linked to a spate of fatal grenade attacks that rocked Kigali particularly between 2010 and 2014. The FDLR is an offshoot of the militia responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. A UN report of experts released last December established that Kampala was a major source of recruits for ‘P5’, a coalition of rebel groups led by RNC
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