Rwandan refugees appeal to Museveni for protection
Publish Date: Nov 19, 2013
A man who claims to have been tortured shows off scars on his body. PHOTO/Juliet Kasirye
A family of Rwandan refugees in Uganda has asked President Yoweri Museveni for protection, saying they were being trailed by suspected security agents from Rwanda putting their lives at risk.
Moses Musonera, a refugee from Rwanda told New Vision that his life was at risk together with that of each of his eight family members ever since they fled Rwanda to Uganda where they have been living as refugees since last year.
“We are constantly attacked by people who keep following us. Our brother, Andrew Muhanguzi, was recently kidnapped in Ntinda and we do not know his whereabouts to date. Our mother has since developed hypertension and collapses each time we are attacked,” said Musonera, who has himself suffered a broken leg and arm in the alleged attacks.
Musonera said his family woes started when their brother, John Bosco Gasasira, a journalist critical of President Paul Kagame’s regime, fled to Sweden after he was attacked in Rwanda. Gasasira is renowned for posting vernacular articles criticizing Kagame’s regime on his website;
Musonera said the Rwandan government asked them to prevail over Gasasira so that he stops writing critical articles, but the family claims they have no control over him. “We had to flee Rwanda because of persistent attacks. We are not journalists and we have never done anything bad about our (Rwanda) government, why then attack us?” wondered Musonera.
The appeal comes at a time when another Rwandan refugee who once served as a bodyguard for Kagame was handed over by Ugandan police to Rwanda under unclear circumstances recently.
Lt. Joel Mutabazi, who fell out with Kagame, had acquired refugee status in Uganda through the United High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Uganda office and was under the protection of Uganda Police.
Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba said Joel Aguma, the deputy director of the Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Directorate who handed over Mutabazi to Rwandan security along the Kampala-Masaka road had been suspended pending investigations into the matter.
In a statement on November 5 Human Rights Watch said Mutabazi’s whereabouts were unknown for six days now, adding that he was in police custody in an undisclosed location in Rwanda.
Mutabazi had survived a bungled abduction in Uganda in August as well as an assassination attempt in July 2012, in both cases by unknown perpetrators.
But the Rwandan government then denied reports that it was responsible for the attacks on Mutabazi.
Attempts to get a comment from Rwanda’s envoy to Uganda Maj. Gen. Frank Mugambagye were futile as he was not picking his known cellphone.
Mohammed Adar, UNHCR country representative, said they usually evaluate such incidents on a case by case basis upon receiving them. “Whenever we realize that the refugees’ lives are in danger, we ask the government to provide police protection to them,” he said.
Adar asked the Gasasira family to approach UNHCR for help, adding that they would liaise with government to offer the family protection.