Rwandan Pilgrims Blocked from entering Uganda to attend Martyrs day Celebrations

A diplomatic feud between Rwanda and Uganda that stopped most cross-border movements between the two countries has now continued to escalate after Rwandan authorities also blocked pilgrims to attend Martyrs day fete in Kampala.

Sources at the Border points explain that different groups who were trekking to Namugongo from various parts of Rwanda were barred from crossing to Uganda by Rwandan army stationed at the border post, a situation that has had a huge effect on daily life for families in both countries.

The row between the two neighboring countries has been simmering for the past two years but seems to have escalated when Rwanda closed its borders recently.

Both countries have traded accusations of interference in each other‘s affairs.

To confirm the allegations, our reporter crosschecked with a list of foreign pilgrims that confirmed attendance with Ugandan authorities for the Namugongo Martyrs day celebrations.

Among others, we verified that 330 pilgrims from Tanzania, 300 from Kenya, 110 from Malawi, 63 from South Africa, 7 from Japan and 40 from Nigeria checked in for the annual fete.

According to official records, we can authoritatively report that Rwandans didn’t come for the annual martyr’s day fete.

Previously, at least 20 people, including bishops, pastors and other Christians from the Anglican Church of Rwanda join thousands of pilgrims at Namugongo for the Martyr’s fete.
In 2014, at least 300 pilgrims from Rwanda attended.

In 2015, at least 20 were in attendance. In 2016, Tanzania had the largest number of pilgrims (2000), 600 came from Kenya, and about 600 from Rwanda, this is according to Uganda Tourism Board.

A warning by Rwanda‘s government to its citizens not to travel to Uganda has meant no business for the traders and no rights for  Rwandan believers to join in as the world remembers the Uganda Martyrs who were executed between 31 January 1885 and 27 January 1887 by Kabaka Mwanga II for their faith in Jesus Christ. They included 23 Anglican and 22 Catholics.

Rwanda says it warned its nationals not to enter Uganda because some of its citizens had been detained and in some cases tortured, and then deported without consular support or due process.

It says more than 900 Rwandans have been deported since January 2018 and that 106 are in detention.

Rwanda accuses Uganda of supporting rebel groups trying to oust the government in Kigali.

Uganda has dismissed the allegations from Rwanda as false.

Uganda has not said out any specific grievances against Rwanda, although there is speculation in the press that Rwanda has tried to infiltrate Uganda‘s security apparatus.