By Hanning Mbabazi
Kampala: Rwanda’s military blocked over 280 Catholic pilgrims from entering Uganda to celebrate Uganda Martyrs’ day celebrations at Namugongo Martyrs Shrine.
The Martyrs day, on which Catholics and Christians remember Ugandans who were martyred for religion, is marked by pilgrims from across the world on June 3rd every year. However, pilgrims from Rwanda were blocked at Katuna and Mirama hill borders on Saturday evening and were prohibited from leaving Rwanda by the military and security operatives who have been deployed at the Rwanda – Uganda border ever since President Paul Kagame closed the borders. The pilgrims were barred from continuing on their journey for their own safety. However many pilgrims from various areas and countries arrived safely at Namugongo Martyrs Shrine, apart from a few cases of road accidents which have no connection to insecurity whatsoever.
The Uganda Martyrs Shrine at Namugongo in Kira division, Wakiso district is secured by all security organs in the country including Special Forces, and the Uganda Police Force. In Katuna, some of the pilgrims who had entered illegally through Maziba were followed by Rwanda’s DMI patrolling the border around Ugandan territory and forced back to Rwanda. One of the pilgrims who has relatives in Uganda has told SpyUganda that “We were told to go back without a clear reason.” However, the Ugandan government protests in the strongest terms against this violation of its territorial integrity by Rwandan soldiers as well as these brutal and violent criminal acts.