Rwandese Alleges Abominable Uganda Torture

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Allegations Of Torture

A 37 year old Rwandese citizen says he was illegally detained for
nearly two years in Ugandan jails and subjected to gruesome tortures
including having his testicles immobilized by being pulled out with a

The Rwandese national, who says he intends to sue the Ugandan
government, claims in one incident, his back was smeared with lard,
wrapped with a shirt, and then a hot iron was run over his back for
about half an hour. This form of alleged
torture didn’t burn the skin on his back but the heat seared into his
damaging internal organs he claims.

“I am now bleeding from my anus,� the Rwandese national, Acleo Kalinga, told The Black Star
in a telephone interview from Kigali, the Rwanda capital. Kalinga
said he was arrested after he had driven into Uganda on June 7, 2005
with a
friend who wanted to pick up his mother who lived in Uganda, for
treatment in neighboring Rwanda. He says he was accused of being a spy,
blindfolded and then taken from one interrogation center to the next
and tortured. He says he was accused of having been sent by Rwanda’s
intelligence services to assassinate Ugandan leaders. He says he has
never beeen a member of Rwandese intelligence or the armed forces but
that Ugandan security agents refused to believe him.

Relations between Uganda and Rwanda have deteriorated severely since the two
nation’s armies fought brief but fierce battles during their occupation
of Eastern Congo, with Rwanda gaining the upperhand in that episode.

Officials at the Rwanda foreign ministry in Kigali could not be reached
for comment by press time; Uganda officials in Kampala also couldn’t be
reached by press time. Uganda security officials have denied any
wrongdoing in comments given to local media there.

A Rwandese doctor, Ooreste Puganeyzu, a general practitioner at a clinic in Kigali, told The Black Star by telephone that Kalinga has no sensation on his back. The doctor added that Kalinga was "psychotic" as a result of the
torture he alleged and that he needed advanced facilities and medical experts for
treatment. "He needs to go to Nairobi," he said.

“He has gone through traumatic experiences—not only physical but also
psyshcotic. I think that he needs more experienced medical staff that
we don’t have here in Rwanda,� said, Dr. Puganeyzu, of the Polyclinic
du Carrefour. He added that he had been practicing medicine for seven
years. He said he didn’t know whether Kalinga’s nerve damages were
permanent or if they can be reversed. “He cannot feel anything on his
back; his alert system is not there,� Puganeyzu said. “If you light a
match to his back he cannot feel it.�

Separately, Kalinga told The Black Star
that since his testicles were damaged sometime last year, he has been rendered
impotent. He says on that occasion, he was stripped naked and a string was tied around his testicles then
tied to a vehicle and he was ordered to pull the car. Afterwards, the
string was tied to a tree and he was again ordered to pull.

Kalinga says his testicles were so swollen that it took two months for
them to regain normal size. Nonetheless, before the swelling had
reduced, armed guards came to his cell and beat his testicles with
electrical chords, he says.

Kalinga says he had been taken, blindfolded, at around 3 a.m. on that
morning. He believes the torture occured near Entebbe International
Airport. "I could hear airplanes in the morning," he said. He says
before the torture the blindfold was removed. He described the car as a
silver colored Totoya Max 2. "I lost my manhood. The government of
Uganda should be responsible," he said.

Kalinga says there are days when he can’t even walk now and that
lost hearing in one ear and sense of taste and smell.  He says he
endured sustained beatings on his head with batons by security guards.
“If it is honey
or pepper I cannot know,� he said, referring to his inability to taste.
Kalinga says he is now destitute and
that he returned to find that his wife had abandoned him and his house,
outside Kigali, was bare.

The Black Star has learned
that a Red Cross official may have examined Kalinga while still in
Uganda capitivity. Uganda law requires detainees to be charged within
48 hours;  Kalinga says he was never produced in court in the
almost two years of capitivity.

Kalinga told The Black Star
that one of the so-called “safe houses� where he was tortured was next
to the residence of the Danish ambassador to Uganda and that on one
occasion he managed to scale a fence but that Ugandan officials jumped
after him and dragged him back in full view of Danish officials, to
resume the torture, even as he cried for help. The Danish embassy could
not be reached by presstime.

Kalinga was freed May 3rd, 2007, after Ugandan opposition officials,
including Members of Parliament,  learned of his predicament. The
MPs and activists had been arrested in a completely unrelated matter; a
massive protest April 12, in Kampala against the Uganda government's plan to give
away parts of Mabira forest to an investor in a sweetheart deal. Those
arrested were accused of inciting violence at the demonstration in
which three people died.

One of the activists who helped secure Kalinga’s release was Fred
Mukasa Mbidde, 32, vice president of Uganda Young Democrats and
campaign director of the Democratic Party, an opposition party
there--he too had been arrested at the Mabira protest. Mbidde learned
of Kalinga’s plight and upon release he widely publicized the case in
Uganda media, including radio.

“His testicles were fully tortured—stretched, and I believe he lost his
manhood, Mukasa Mbidde told The Black Star in a telephone interview
from Uganda. “He may also lose his eye sight,� he said, adding that
Kalinga’s case was “the best example� of the level of human rights
abuses in Uganda.

Mbidde, a candidate for parliament in an upcoming by-election, said he
believed Kalinga would work with Rwandese authorities to sue the Uganda
government. Another opposition leader who worked hard to secure
Kalinga’s freedom after his own release was Member of Parliament,
Hussein Kyanjo, who couldn’t be reached by presstime.

Opposition leaders have been complaining about torture
chambers and so-called “safe houses,� residences spread around the
country, where civilians are said to be tortured.

Upon his release, Kalinga was whisked to the airport by
Rwanda’s ambassador to Uganda and flown to Kigali. Kalinga says even
after his bond was set, Uganda's Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence
(CMI) wanted to re-arrest him from a police precinct but that officers
hid him in a toilet and then spirited him out a back door.

In Kigali, he was interviewed by security officials and allowed to go
home; he says he hasn't received proper evaluation and care for lack of
funds. As for Rwanda taking up the matter with Uganda officials? He
says he was told the matter is being handled diplomatically. "What does
that mean? I am dying," he said.

Kalinga says he was born in Luwero, to a Rwandese exile family March
30, 1970, and that he attended primary and secondary school there; he
says he has a Bachelor of Surgery degree from Makerere University in
Uganda. Before his arrest, he was running an organization he founded in
2000, Rwanda Food Program, designed to alleviate hunger in the rural
areas and that he had been working on getting help for a healthcare
center. "My kidnapping halted the project," he said.

Uganda continues to enjoy  warm relations with London and Washington,
and the East African country, despite a surge in human rights abuses is slated
to host this year's Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in

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