Starving, pregnant and too weak to run Elisabeth Mukarugwiza fell and died as she tried to run away from soldiers who wanted to prevent her from crossing into Uganda to buy some food commodities. As she fell and died on the Ugandan side of the border one soldier is alleged to have run and picked the ID from the dead woman before the arrival of Ugandan security officer. It will not surprise if they deny her Rwandan citizenship. The Ugandan Red ‘cross arrived too late to save her.
Women who were with the deceased were strong enough to outrun the soldiers. They stated that they were starving since the border was closed. They said that there has been very poor potato harvest in Rwanda and people depended on buying food commodities from Ugandan including flour, sweet potatoes, avocadoes, banana etc. and even went to medical services in Uganda. Responding to a journalist one of the ladies said that she does not fear to say that she does not believe the story that “President Museveni tortures Rwandans”, but that Kagame does it by denying food to his people.
We may recall that along Cyanika border, the people on both sides are the same, speaking the same language with the same culture and were only separated by colonial boundaries. What is happening is a sad reminder of the Berlin wall and the East German Stazi police.
We may recall that starving Rwandans are not the sole victims of the closure of the border but also young men and women hungry for knowledge. Rwandan students who were studying in Uganda have reportedly been asked by Rwandan universities to start afresh because the “curricula are different in the countries.” Three final-year students who were studying in Uganda, said in an interview, that they have been ordered to start afresh. 180 Rwandan students missed University graduation ceremony because the Rwandan government prevented them from going to Uganda “for their safety”.
It is an open secret that Rwandans who have problems in Uganda are the real or suspected members of the spy network involved in kidnapping and assassination real or perceived critics of the Rwandan regime. More Rwandans are tortured and killed in Rwanda than they are in Uganda. Indeed, the US, a friend of Rwanda have accused the regime of : ” arbitrary or unlawful killings; torture; harassment, arrest, and abuse of political opponents, human rights advocates, and individuals perceived to pose a threat to government control and social order; security forces’ disregard for the rule of law; and restrictions on civil liberties”. President Kagame is quoted saying that he will order his men to shoot in broad day light any one threatening his regime after the US government criticised Rwanda for enforced disappearances.
The frustration of the Rwandan regime seems to come from a misinterpretation of the East African Treaty as it could be construed from a statement made by Rwandan senior military officer. Rwandan General Mubarak Muganga is quoted telling a petrified public rally on Saturday 27th August 2016 in Rwimbogo, in Kicukiro District (Kigali): “Nobody will cause insecurity and we let him go unless he/she goes somewhere else abroad but not in East Africa because we are now like one country”. Indeed, some analysts have called Rwandan army “an army without borders”.
The FDU-Inkingi call on the Rwandan government to stop sacrificing the lives of millions of Rwandans and the East African community treaty just to obtain free hand for its hit squads to kill, kidnap its real or imaginary enemies abroad.
We call on the international community, the East African community, i.e. Heads of State of Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Burundi as well as the people of East Africa to put pressure on President Kagame to allow free movement of people, goods and services between Rwanda and Uganda. This will save the lives of people like Mrs. Elisabeth Mukarugwiza who are risking their lives to get food commodities from Uganda and to save the future of hundreds of Rwandan children whose parents have given all they had to get education for their children and now see their efforts go up in smoke.
Democracy and respect for human rights are unavoidable prerequisite for sustainable peace and development, for effective regional integration and free trade among African countries.
Done in Rouen March 28, 2019
FDU-Inkingi Commissioner for Communications