The American-based human rights organization, International Relief for Human Rights Initiative (IRHRI), has refuted claims by the exiled former Rwanda Defence Force Chief, Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa, that he is not in any way involved in the disappearance of French citizen Benjamin Rutabana.
Rutabana went missing in September, 2019 a few days after arriving in Uganda for a probably business trip.
Rutabana, using passport number 16DA52086, left Brussels, Belgium on September 4, 2019 at 21:45 in an Emirates Airlines flight, 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 Mrs Diane Rutabana, his spouse, between September 5 and 8, 2019, but never again since then. There is no any record indicating Rutabana’s departure from Uganda since then.
Preliminary reports by IRHRI indicate that a few days after his arrival in Uganda (September 8, 2019), Mr Rutabana was arrested and held at Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) offices in Mbuya and later at Internal Security Organisation (ISO) for interrogation to establish the purpose of his visit to Uganda.
IRHRI reports further indicate that a section of selfish people from the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) led by Nyamwasa, are behind Rutabana’s arrest and detention. It is reported that these people received a lot of money from Rutabana, being a tycoon, in return for some favors; but they plotted to swindle the money and put him in trouble such that he lacks the ground to claim it, leaving them to enjoy the money freely.
“We have discovered that there were misunderstandings between Rutabana, Nyamwasa and some other colleagues in their political party, RNC. They connived to portray Rutabana as subversive and upon landing in Uganda, he was treated as a terrorist just because of misinformation from these people to security agencies,” IRHRI says in a statement posted on their website.
IRHRI strongly believes that the connivance between the RNC and some of the top security officials in Uganda is the one making Mr Rutabana not accessible even by the lawyer.
However, responding to the accusations recently, Nyamwasa vehemently denied involvement in the disappearance of Rutabana.
“I hear people saying I am behind Rutabana’s disappearance in Uganda and it’s almost 10 months now. It sounds like the powers Kagame gives me all the time when he says a lot of things I have done when it’s completely untrue. ” Nyamwasa said during a Talk show on Washington- based Radio Itahuka, on Thursday.
“How can Kayumba go to Uganda and jail Rutabana who is a French Citizen and Uganda simply allows to have problems with France just because they like Kayumba? How would the jailing of Rutabana in Uganda be of benefit to me anyway? He questioned, adding that if Uganda had Rutabana in custody it would be a “silly mistake to incarcerate someone without charge.”
Meanwhile, after hearing about Nyamwasa’s comments, IRHRI, a not-for-profit organizaton which Rutabana’s family contacted for help locate him, retaliated saying Nyamwasa should stop lying and destabilizing Uganda, a nation that worked so hard to get its freedom and peace, with his propaganda.
“We strongly believe that the information we have so far gathered is undoubtedly correct. We know Nyamwasa and his group can’t accept their involvement in Rutabana’s disappearance, but we already have evidence and witnesses that can prove them wrong,” Mr Greg Heavens, the IRHRI president said, adding: “Nyamwasa and his group thought that Rutabana wanted to start up his own rebel group and channel the funds, that’s they did everything possible portray him as subversive so as to land him into unnecessary problems.”
Basing on the information given to him by the insider in Nyamwasa’s RNC, the IRHRI boss said: “Nyamwasa should simply stop destabilizing a nation that worked so hard to get its freedom and peace. He needs to know that Uganda is aware of his relationship with President Kagame and the games they are playing to disrupt its security and international relations. Rutabana was betrayed in the RNC circles, and his being held in Uganda against his will.”
He said they believe that Rutabana was not arrested on orders of known government officials, but his arrest is an arrangement between Nyamwasa’s group and individual state security mafia that made him to be where he is currently.
IRHRI also responded to rumours going around that Rubatana is in Gabiro Training Centre in Rwanda and that he is being tortured by Brig Denis Rutaha and Rugambwa, after which he will be assassinated and body dumped to Ugandan side.
“This is a ploy aimed at confusing the human rights organizations and security agencies working tirelessly to find Rutabana’s whereabouts and rescue him. Whoever is behind this propaganda of confusing people should stop it,” IRHRI boss said.
During the talk show, Nyamwasa revealed that him and his RNC group operate in secrecy.
“Nyamwasa should know that his words can cause problem on International Relations and put people’s lives in danger, especially refugees. We got disappointed by his words. Ugandan government has been falsely accused to support his operations he need to understand the damages he may be causing.”
Mr Greg said he has heard some Nyamwasa propagandist saying the IRHRI organisation work with the government of Rwanda.
“I wish I could have good relationship with Rwanda. Kagame’s enemies are not our enemies as IRHRI. Our only enemy is those who violate people’s rights. We do not condone that as an independent Human Rights organisation.”
He thanked Ugandan president and his government agencies for showing their support to ensure that this matter is settled as soon as possible.
“IRHRI entirely acknowledges the complex role of security agencies to uphold and maintain security within the barriers they operate, and applauds Ugandan security forces for their endeavors aimed at keeping the country safe. IRHRI also thanks President Museveni and his government for working tirelessly and assuring that Rutabana that they will ensure his security from wherever he is being held until when he is reunited with his family in Belgium. This is indeed an overwhelming demonstration of a country dedicated to respecting the rights of not only its citizens but also the rights of their visitors, thereby enhancing democracy and the rule of law,” Mr Greg said.
He said that with the concrete information they have gathered and the witnesses they have, they are preparing to file another application in court compelling whoever is holding Mr Rutabana to release him unconditionally so that he reunites with his family in Belgium.
He said that in this suit, new government institutions including the Department of Immigration and some individual security officers will be required to appear in court and give their individual accounts of what they really know about Rutabana’s case.
“Lastly as we are celebrating our federal holiday in the United States on July 4. I am wishing all Ugandans peace and freedom. Ugandans should not listen to politicians who come with divisive messages. The enemies are the problem not President Museveni. I wish you Good Luck in upcoming elections 2021,” Mr Greg said.