Select Page

Forums Exposed Rwandan dissident Benjamin Rutabana

last updated by Rwanda 1 year, 7 months ago
1 voice
2 replies
  • Author
  • #204491

    Benjamin RutabanaHigh Court judge, Esta Nambayo, has dismissed an application compelling security services to produce missing Rwandan dissident Benjamin Rutabana.

    This was after Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI), Internal Security Organisation (ISO) and Uganda Police Force (UPF) said they were not holding Ben Rutabana in their custody.

    “I have looked at the application and the reports that have been filed in court by the State Attorney. I have also listened to the submission of both counsel that the file be closed.  I’m left with no option but to close the file,” said Nambayo in recent ruling seen by Our reporter.

    “Accordingly, this court file is hereby closed the applicant having been not found in the custody of any of the respondents. Each party will bear its own costs,” ruled the judge.

    Rutabana, an exiled Rwandan opposition figure, who also obtained French citizenship, went missing in September 2019.

    Rutabana, using passport number 16DA52086, left Brussels, Belgium on September 4, 2019, at 21:45 in an Emirates Airlines flight.

    He had a stopover at Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates, before proceeding and landed at Entebbe International Airport in Uganda on September 5, 2019 at 13:50.

    He stayed in regular telephone contact with Diane Rutabana, his spouse, between September 5 and 8, 2019, but never again since then.

    Rutabana’s return ticket displays September 19, 2019, at 21:30 Kampala time using the same Emirates Airlines and would be in Brussels on September 20, 2019 at 13:25.

    Unfortunately for some unexplained reasons, Rutabana never boarded that flight, and contrary to his usual practice, he failed to contact his spouse informing her of any delays or change of programme, and all calls to his telephone went unanswered.

    Rutabana family’s lawyer Kenneth Munungu later filed an application alleging that the Rwandan dissident was arrested from Kampala in the morning on the 8 September, 2019 by plain-clothed men who identified themselves as security operatives from CMI and ISO.

    Upon arrest, claimed Munungu, Rutabana was taken to Mbuya Chieftaincy of Military Intelligent (CMI) headquarters and then transferred to the Internal Security Organization and back to CMI and thereafter his whereabouts became unknown.

    The family members wrote letters to the French Embassy and to the Ministry of foreign Affairs in Uganda on the 28 October 2019, but to no avail.

    We have learned that Director General of Internal Security Organization, Brig Kaka Bagyenda, UPDF’s Joint Chief of Staff (JCOS) General Joseph Musanyufu and Paul Kato Ag. Deputy Director CID-Police told court that they have never arrested or detained Rutabana.

    This compelled the judge to kick out the case.

    We understands that before Rutabana’s departure to Uganda, he had met several Rwandan dissidents under the umbrella organisation, Rwanda National Congress (RNC).

    Internal divisions

    During a series of meetings with RNC members in United States, Rutabana was reportedly informed he could buy guns from former M23 military commander, Brig Sultan Makenga.

    Jean Paul Turayishimiye is said to have persuaded and linked Rutabana to Makenga who continues to operate from Eastern DRC.

    Both Turayishimiye and Makenga attended the same school in DRC.

    In an interview, Turayishimiye admitted having studied with Makenga in DRC but denied linking him to Rutabana.

    Turayishimiye claimed that Rutabana could have fallen victim to the internal wars in RNC.

    Led by dissident Rwandan general, Kayumba Nyamwasa, the main opposition party has in recent years suffered major setbacks including internal divisions and resignation of founding members.

    “When Rutabana went missing, we asked Kayumba to explain what happened but nothing was forthcoming. There was an effort to disassociate RNC from Rutabana’s actions. Yet, Rutabana was always traveling to many parts of the world for family or RNC business,” recalled Turayishimiye.

    “Some of us argued that Rutabana was one of us. That we should do everything to look for him and help him but the party leadership under Kayumba seemed disinterested. That’s when we suspected that they knew where he was and never wanted us to know.”

    However, some RNC opposition figures say Turayishimiye is trying to divert attention from the role he played in Rutabana’s disappearance.

    “We actually told Rutabana that he could not trust Makenga since M23 was linked to Rwanda. It was suicidal but somehow, Turayishimiye convinced Rutabana to go and meet Makenga,” said a source in RNC.

    Turayishimiye was a military intelligence officer under Kayumba when both were still serving in the Rwanda Defence Force.

    What really happened?

    Multiple sources in Uganda and Diaspora told us that on arrival at Entebbe Airport, Rutabana was picked by a relative of Leah Karegeya, the wife of deceased Rwandan dissident, Col Patrick Karegeya.

    Contacted a few months ago, Leah dismissed the claims as “untrue,” adding, “The person you are talking about was here in United States. She was in U.S. for a marriage function and there is evidence to this effect.”

    Nevertheless, Rutabana proceeded to Mbarara where he met Pastor Deo Nyirigira at the latter’s home.

    Pastor Nyirigira is accused by Rwanda of supporting RNC’s alleged recruitment of fighters in Uganda.

    However, some Rwandan dissidents say he doesn’t belong to opposition and that his loyalty lies somewhere else.

    They cite Nyirigira’s attempt to form a ‘Ugandan Chapter’ for RNC, something that the  was unaware of.

    We understand that after meeting Nyirigira, Rutabana traveled with the Pastor’s son, Felix Nyirigira, to Kisoro in Southwestern Uganda, where they used an illegal route to cross to DRC.

    This was the last time Ben Rutabana was seen or communicated to his family or colleagues including Jean Paul Turayishimiye.

    Rutabana, who was serving as RNC’s Commissioner of Capacity Building, was reportedly working hand in hand with Pastor Nyirigira to take over the entire political organisation.

    Rutabana would become the new leader. It is alleged Rutabana was captured as soon as he crossed the border.

    Rutabana’s wife, Diane, hinted on this development in a letter to RNC’s General Coordinator, Jérôme Nayigiziki, dated October 2, 2019.

    She said the day (19 September, 2019) Rutabana was due back in Belgium, she received information about her husband’s “illegal detention by elements of RUD Urunana in connection with Major Faustin Ntilikina; General Jean Michel Afurika; Mr. Rachidi and Mr. Frank Ntwali.”

    It is said he even directed some of the fighters to move from South Kivu to North Kivu where he would meet them and provide the needed logistics.

    He also was expected to issue new orders possibly to attack Rwanda.

    However, the P5 fighters were ambushed by DRC and Rwanda Special Forces, snipers and counterinsurgency experts, which destroyed the core unit of the rebel force.

    This was one of the signs that Rutabana, together with Pastor Nyirigira, Turayishimiye and others were determined to undermine Gen Kayumba while at the same time using his name and that of RNC to conduct fundraising activities in many places across the world.

    It is said Rutabana’s group withheld funds for P5 fighters in DRC and denied RNC leadership access to any activities they were conducting.

    Smokes and mirrors

    Both the Rwandan opposition and Kigali have tried to push two narratives. Uganda has not officially addressed this matter.

    The Rwandan government officials informally accuse Ugandan security services of arresting Rutabana, a claim Kampala denies.

    The mainstream RNC says Kigali’s intelligence used Makenga to lure Rutabana into DRC where he was arrested together with his entire force.

    The opposition further claims Rwandan Special Forces coordinated this operation together with M23, by providing fake pictures of these weapons which Rutabana believed he was buying from Makenga.

    “All this was being done over the phone as there was no single opportunity for Rutabana and group to meet one on one to even verify the presence of these people selling weapons,” said a source who preferred anonymity to speak freely.

    “It is yet to be established if at this point anyone knew if Rutabana, Pastor Nyirigira or Turayishimiye were knowingly being run by Kigali intelligence or not.”

    However, the narrative supported by Kigali is that RNC and some of the top security officials in Uganda connived to arrest Rutabana for trying to split Rwanda’s main opposition party.

    Kigali believes Ugandan security services support RNC, a suggestion Kampala has vehemently denied.

    Kandiho speaks out

    An American human rights organisation, International Relief & Human Rights Initiative (IRHRI), which has been tracking Rutabana’s disappearance, recently interview CMI boss Maj. Gen. Abel Kandiho who denied any knowledge about Rutabana’s arrest and detention.

    Kandiho said whoever gave such information to IRHRI was an enemy of the Ugandan government and was trying to divert the NGO.

    “We have never arrested Rutabana as far as am concerned, even if am out of the country am always informed of any operation. We use a gazetted prison for all categories of prisoners apart from interviews in some cases. Why would Rutabana be of interest to the extent of isolation for that long when he’s not a terrorist? But even high profile terrorists are quickly interviewed and taken to court. I will make a follow-up on this matter ASAP,” Maj. Gen Abel Kandiho promised.

    Gen. Kandiho was, however, suspicious that a section of people from a sister security agency might be behind the rumors and said that an ISO operative he only identified as Odong could be the mastermind of Rutabana’s disappearance.

    “When you get to know the truth, that’s when you will be hurt. I have a name to protect I have no reason to tell lies at my age. Why should I get involved in dirty games when I handle more important assignments at a strategic level? Suppose you were the one being accused or your organisation of kidnapping someone falsely how would you feel? I have created time to explain to you that there’s no any reason or interest why we should keep that man. Above all we don’t even have power to do it. Try to engage any other official who will respond like me and revert to me if you will ever get one. I know they’ve been trying to destroy one of my hardworking and trusted officer Col. CK. Asiimwe. I hope it’s not someone called Odong (Simon) from ISO who gave you the information if I am not mistaken?” Gen Kandiho told IRHRI.

    “Yes, I am aware, it’s good you got information. I am sure you know that Uganda had no hand in this case. Like you stated earlier, there are people trying to tarnish the image of our country. In this case, I think Rutabana was tricked or betrayed,” he added.

    Efforts to get a comment from Pastor Nyirigira did not bear fruit as he switched off his phone after hearing our questions.

    Neither did he respond to our messages. Nyirigira has not spoken about his son who went missing with Rutabana.


    Kayumba Nyamwasa

    Kayumba NyamwasaNyuma y’igihe Kayumba Nyamwasa yihishe mu kibahima cye muri Afurika y’Epfo, ibibazo uruhuri biri mu mutwe w’iterabwoba wa RNC byatumye agisohokamo kuberako byagize ingaruka ku misanzu yabonaga hirya no hino kandi umusanzu ariyo nyungu Kayumba n’agatsiko ke aribyo basarura ntumubaze ibindi. Mu bibazo bibangamiye Kayumba Nyamwasa ni uko abayoboke bamushiraho kandi bikozwe n’abari abagaragu be ku isonga Jean Paul Turayishimye utagitinya kuvugako Kayumba Nyamwasa atamurusha ingufu muri RNC nubwo bayimwirukanyemo.

    Kayumba Nyamwasa yabajijwe ibibazo byinshi ariko byose abinyura hejuru ariko akagenda arekura amakuru amwe namwe agaragaza uruhare rwe mu guteza umutekano muke mu karere cyane cyane mu Rwanda.  Kayumba yemeye ko akora ingendo muri aka karere bishimangira ibyo raporo ya Loni yatangaje ko yagaragaye mu burasirazuba bwa Kongo nkuko byatangajwe nabahoze ari abarwanyi ba Kayumba Nyamwasa.

    Ikibazo gikuru Kayumba Nyamwasa akunda guhunga gusubiza ni ikibazo cy’ibura rya Ben Rutabana wahoze ari Komiseri muri RNC ariko akaza kutumvikana na Kayumba Nyamwasa cyane cyane ku bijyane n’imicungire y’ingabo za RNC ziba muri Kongo. Nyuma yuko Ben Rutabana aburiye mu gihugu cya Uganda, umugore we Diane Rutabana yatangaje ko nubundi umugabo we yari yaramubwiye ko afitanye ibibazo bikuru na Kayumba Nyamwasa bityo kuba yarabuze ntawundi bishidikanywaho ko abifitemo uruhare usibye Kayumba Nyamwasa.

    Uruhare rwa Kayumba Nyamwasa mu ibura rya Ben Rutabana ryaje no kwigaragaza ubwo yirukanaga muri RNC abavandimwe be aribo Simeo Ndwaniye na Tabita Gwiza kubera kubaza ikibazo cy’umuvandimwe wabo ariko Kayumba Nyamwasa akabashinja gukoresha inama zitemewe, Tabita yari Komiseri w’abagore mu ntara ya Canada naho Simeon Ndwaniye akaba yarakuriye akarere ka Windsor. Ntibyarangiriye aho Jean Paul Ntagara na Achille Kamana nabo barabakurikiye. Ikibazo cya Rutabana cyaje kubera ihurizo rikomeye Kayumba Nyamwasa kugeza naho abo yashingaga kugisobanura nabo ubwabo babura icyo bavuga kubera ibimenyetseo byashyirwaga hanze n’umuryango wa Rutabana.

    Bwa mbere abazwa ku kibazo cya Ben Rutabana, Kayumba yavuzeko adashobora kugira icyo atangaza kuberako idosiye yari muru kiko muri Uganda. Ariko ubwo yasubiraga kuri Radiyo rutwitsi Itahuka,Kayumba yashatse kwigira intama kandi ari ikirura avugako ibura rya Ben Rutabana ribabaje ariko ntiyagira icyo avuga kubyo umuryango we wamureze. Ahubwo yigize umuvugize wa Leta ya Uganda ko idashobora kuba ifite Ben Rutabana ndetse yishyiramo ibinyamakauru byo mu Rwanda harimo na Rushyashya ko tuvugira Ben Rutabana. Ubu Pastor Nyirigira nawe yakuwe ku buyobozi bwa RNC muri Uganda nyuma yuko nawe ahangayikishijwe nibura ry’umuhungu we Felix Mwizerwa wari kumwe na Ben Rutabana.

    Rushyashya iramenyeshya Kayumba ko itigeze ivugira Ben Rutabana ahubwo ko iviga ibiriho ntanumwe ivuganira. Ben Rutabana yarigishijwe na Kayumba Nyamwasa ari munzira mu guhuza imitwe yitwara gisirikari itera u Rwanda; bose ni kimwe bakorera imitwe y’iterabwoba nuko Rushyashya tuvuga ibiriho. Aho kuvuga ikibazo cya Ben Rutabana, Kayumba Nyamwasa yagiye gutaka imandwa ye ngo ni Charlotte Mukankusi asigaye atuma hose, avuga ko RNC ifite ibibazo bisanzwe nyamara ahubwo biyijyana mu gisimu.

    Mu bindi Kayumba Nyamwasa yumvikanye avugira u Burundi bumaze iminsi bufasha abahungabanya umutekano, yemeza ko avugana na Leta ya Bujumbura. Ntitwasoza iyi nkuru tutavuze ko Kayumba yavuze ko u Rwanda rugomba kurwanya Corona nkuko u Burundi buyirwanya. Birababaje!!!


    Rwandan organisations operating from abroad

    A coalition of about 37 Rwandan organisations operating from abroad has written to the H.E. Amb. Smail Chergui, the Commissioner of Peace and Security, African Union (AU)to help and intervene in addressing deteriorating cases of human rights abuses and security in Rwanda.

    In a copy of the letter which this website has obtained, Rwandan organisations say people back home continue to face allegations of human rights violations that are of an extremely serious nature.

    “These allegations have been found credible by none less than Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and UN panel on human rights. Several well-grounded allegations exist about the extreme lack of fundamental freedoms in Rwanda, which it is charged, has resulted in serious violations of freedom of expression, association and movement, as well as entrenched impunity and serious human rights violations. Together, these make Rwanda the most acute human rights abuser within the Great Lakes region” Letter reads in part.

    It adds that “Your excellency, we draw your attention to grave human rights violations in Rwanda that have been internationally recognized and reports of ongoing human rights violations that are regularly highlighted. Despite Rwanda’s repeated denial, these serious and persistent violations have been widely documented by Human Rights bodies for the past 26 years. They also led to a UN Human Rights Council resolution on the country earlier this year”.

    The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has always named Rwanda among the top 10 countries in the world that have gone unpunished for intimidation and reprisals against critics.

    “Your Excellency, in 1994, Rwanda suffered a tragedy that left over one million of its citizens dead as a result of war and genocide. The war and genocide resulted in immense suffering to millions more. The war and genocide have had far-reaching repercussions for both Rwanda and the Great Lakes region of Central Africa as a whole”.

    They say President Kagame is perceived by most outsiders as both invincible and indispensable to national and regional stability adding that there is however, more to Rwanda and Paul Kagame than new buildings, clean streets, and efficient government than President Kagame’s famous friends in high places in Europe and America care to admit.

    “Rwanda is essentially a hard – line, one-party, secretive police state with a façade of democracy. The ruling party, the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF), has closed space for political participation. The RPF does not tolerate political opposition or open competition for power. The government ensures its monopoly of power by means of draconian restrictions on the exercise of the fundamental human rights of citizens. The press, civil society and opposition parties are deprived of freedom to operate freely.”

    They also revealed that President Kagame and the ruling party that he leads have always depended on repression to stay in power.

    “State institutions, especially law enforcement agencies, the judiciary and security services, serve to protect the RPF’s, and ultimately Kagame’s power monopoly instead of protecting the fundamental human rights of citizens. Repression has again become particularly acute in recent months”.

    There have been assassination attempts, killings and enforced disappearances of members of the press and political opposition within and outside Rwanda. Purges of political enemies, real and imagined, within the ruling party government continue unabated. These purges have now been extended to the military.

    “A climate of fear and terror has enveloped the nation. Rwanda is in crisis. The situation that prevails raises serious questions about the country’s future. Current Political status Rwanda is a one-party dictatorship under President Kagame”.

    They accuse President Kagame of effectively corrupting the founding ideals of the RPF which he uses to deny the people of Rwanda the opportunity to exercise their fundamental human rights, particularly the right of political participation.

    “President Kagame is both corrupt and authoritarian. He uses repression to ensure his continued monopoly of power. State institutions violate the most fundamental human rights of the people, including the right to life and the integrity of the person, to keep the President Kagame in power”.

    They further explain that Rwanda’s state security institutions enjoy impunity for grave human rights violations against critics and opponents of the government.

    “President Kagame’s abuse of the institutions of the state to support his quest for absolute power and economic gain is criminalizing the fabric of the Rwandan state. Judicial system you’re Excellency, in Rwanda, the functioning of the justice system is constrained by lack of judicial independence. The judiciary does not enjoy independence. The independence of Rwanda’s judiciary is compromised by the executive. The President, through the control that he exercises over the Senate Chamber of the legislature, controls most senior judges (including the Supreme Court) and through them, the rest of the judiciary”.

    “Most of the members of the judiciary are cadres of the ruling party, Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF). The RPF compels its members who have been appointed to the judiciary to continue to owe allegiance to the party; to participate in some activities of the party and to pay financial contributions to the party’s campaign and daily operation.”

    “Judicial authorities operate in a political context where the executive continues to dominate the judiciary and where there is an official antipathy to views diverging from those of the government and the dominant party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF)”.

    “The judiciary is particularly vulnerable to outside interference in cases involving political issues. The President, his close advisers and security services personnel frequently coerce members of the judiciary to make judicial decisions to suit the interests of the regime”.

    “Instead of being the protector and defender of citizens’ fundamental human rights, the judiciary has become one of the main tools by which the regime perpetuates authoritarian rule by persecuting opponents and critics”.

    Persecution of Political Opponents.

    They say the regime in Rwanda has for years jailed political opponents and disqualified them from running for office. Since the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front took power, Rwandans have faced huge, and often deadly, obstacles to participating in public life and voicing criticism of government policies.

    “Killings and disappearances need to be placed in the context of many years of similar violence for which no one has yet been held to account. In this chilling atmosphere, it is unsurprising that would-be government critics practice self-censorship”.

    “The regime uses the coercive instruments of the state that is the military, security services and police, to sustain the status quo in power against the will of the people. State security officers continue to commit grave human rights abuses to suppress all political opposition and critics of government. Impunity for gross human rights abuses is worse than it was prior to the genocide. Rwanda remains deeply divided along ethnic lines”.

    As a result of these and other factors, Rwanda remains unstable and prone to violent, and identity-based conflict. The report documents how opposition politicians, journalists and human rights defenders have faced restrictions on their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly in the two decades since the genocide.

    “They have been jailed, physically attacked – even killed – and forced into exile or silence. Independent human rights defenders who criticize government policies or are perceived as opponents to government have faced different forms of attacks and restrictions in Rwanda”.

    “NGOs are subject to onerous – and costly – registration procedures. The nebulous charge of promoting ‘genocide ideology’ has been levied at international and domestic human rights organizations who criticize the government”.

    “Rwanda’s history of political repression, attacks on opposition figures and dissenting voices in the context of previous elections, stifles political debate and makes those who might speak out think twice before taking the risk. People accused of crimes against state security continued to be arrested and held unlawfully in military camps”.

    “Many people held in these camps were tortured in an attempt to force them to confess or accuse others. Authorities continued to round up street vendors, sex workers, street children, and other poor people and detained them in so-called transit centers across the country. Conditions in these centers are harsh and inhumane, and beatings are common”.

    “For years, thousands of men, women, and children—many of them street children, commercial sex workers, or street hawkers are detained unlawfully, without charge or trial, in very poor conditions in an unrecognized detention centre commonly known as Kwa Kabuga, in the Gikondo area of Kigali. Many were beaten by police or by other detainees in the presence of police”.

    “Rwanda has degenerated into a criminal state. Victims of human rights violations committed against persons considered to be opponents of the government do not have an opportunity for seeking redress from the courts. Agents of the state are, to this day, still able to commit grave human rights abuses that is killings, torture, and disappearances, without fear of being held accountable. Impunity for human rights violations is now far more deeply entrenched in the Country, Rwanda”.


    “The promotion of national reconciliation should have been the foremost priority of Rwandan society in the aftermath of the genocide.

    Instead, President Kagame’s pursuit of absolute power, his intolerance for political opposition, persecution of opponents and critics of the regime and partisan nature of the processes of accountability for past human rights violations that Rwanda has undertaken, have all led to elusiveness of national unity and reconciliation”.

    “As a result of the policies that the regime has pursued since it took control of government, Rwandan society remains deeply divided”.

    The politics of ethnicity remain intractable in Rwanda.

    Armed insurgents continue to wage war against the Rwandan state from their sanctuaries in the Democratic Republic of Congo, twenty-six years after the genocide.

    Externally – based unarmed opposition has on several occasions called for dialogue on how to resolve Rwanda’s continuing crisis, but the regime has refused to heed to that call of negotiating with its opponents.

    The Kagame led regime has failed to engage and lead Rwandan society in genuine reconciliation. The social conditions of post -genocide Rwanda remain constructed in terms of ethnic identity.

    “ The reconciliation that the Rwanda regime envisions is politically constructed on the terms of the ruling party – RPF and President Kagame, which are insufficient for ensuring the long-term stability of Rwanda. Lack of national dialogue on reconciliation processes has very profound implications for the long -term stability of Rwanda and the security of its population”.

    “There cannot be genuine reconciliation in Rwanda until the grievances of both Tutsis and Hutus communities are well and genuinely discussed”.

    “Your Excellency, Rwanda is a member state of the AU, and it is expected to uphold the human rights principles set out in AU’s Constitutive Act. Your Excellency, the on-going violations of human rights in Rwanda are not in keeping with the country’s obligations and domestic laws, including the constitution and major international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Rwanda”.

    “Paul Kagame and his regime violate objectives 3(g) and (h) of the Constitutive Act of the AU which enjoins AU member States to promote popular participation and human and people’s rights, respectively”.

    “Recalling the role of the AU as the lead regional institution tasked to better the lives of the people of Africa, and particular Rwandan citizens as in this case, we respectfully ask you to take measures to ensure that the regime of president Paul Kagame restores respect for the rule of law, ensures ample protection of human rights and aligns its practices to ratified international and regional human rights standards including the Constitutive Act of the AU and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights”.

    “We respectfully ask you to consider including the situation of human rights in Rwanda as a point for discussion in the agenda of the next Summit of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU with recommendations for the Summit to deliberate on asking the government of Rwanda”.

Topic tags

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Recent Topics

Forum Replies

Font Resize