Rwanda: Rwandan Admitted After Alleged Assault in Country

The New Times (Kigali)

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Stevenson Mugisha

A 32-year old Rwandan is admitted at Gihundwe Hospital after allegedly being tortured by Congolese soldiers in eastern DR Congo town of Bukavu recently.

Jean Claude Mugwaneza, a resident of Kamembe in Rusizi district said he was given 200 strokes of the cane by Congolese soldiers in Inguba Commune on accusations of being General Laurent Nkunda's spy.

Nkunda's CNDP is a major rebel movement fighting the DRC government in the eastern parts of the country.

Mugwaneza suffered pains in the backbone, head, stomach, limbs and he is now vomiting blood. He can't manage to sit properly.

Speaking to The New Times at his hospital bed, Mugwaneza narrated that he had gone to Bukavu to return a faulty mobile phone which he had bought from the town.

"I was seriously beaten by the Congolese soldiers in Inguba-in Bukavu town. The soldiers were called by a businessman who deals in phones after I had told him that the phone he had sold me was not functioning," Mugwaneza said.

Other Rwandans in Rusizi have previously decried the growing mistreatment subjected to them whenever they cross to Bukavu.

They give similar accounts of arrest, torture and often being robbed of their properties by the Congolese.

Last week, Valence Bigirimana, an official in charge of the Fund for Genocide Survivors (FARG) at Rusizi district, was arrested at Rusizi 1 border on DRC side on his way to Bukavu.

He was taken to Nyawera prison in south Kivu by Congolese military intelligence personnel working under Agence Nationale de Renseignement (ANR), where he was stripped and beaten on allegations that he was a spy.

"Rwandans are facing serious torture and harassment whenever they go to Bukavu. For example last week I was arrested on false claims .and yet I am a civilian," Biririmana said.

Bigirimana claims that he was also robbed of $200 and a mobile phone and was released after district officials paid a ransom of $500 to Immigration personnel in Bukavu town.

An individual who was among those who negotiated the deal also confirmed the incident.

In a related development, a student who preferred to remain anonymous claims that he was recently expelled from Institute Supérieur Audio Visuelle (I.S.A.V) in Bukavu, where he has been pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering.

The student, who was in his fourth year of a five-year course, contends that he was expelled on account of his nationality.

He also alleges that other Rwandan students studying in Bukavu are always deducted of their marks during examinations and harassed by their fellow Congolese students.

Superintendent Daniel Ndayambaje, the Rusizi District Police Commander, said that they are in negotiations with their Congolese counterparts to find ways of ensuring security for Rwandans in Bukavu.

"Yes its true several Rwandans have been arrested, detained and tortured in Bukavu. But we (security authorities) are in negotiations . I hope this would be solved very soon," the police officer said on phone yesterday.

Jean Pierre Turatsinze, the district Mayor, also revealed he had received reports of mistreatment.

"There have been several cases of mistreatment of Rwandans when they go to Bukavu but we are discussing with Congolese government officials in Bukavu on how to stop it," he said.

This the second time within a period of one week Rwandans crossing to Congo allege mistreatment.

Relevant Links

The New Times last week reported of similar claims by Rwandans crossing to the DRC's other town of Goma.

Jean-Louis Kayitenkore
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