Sebarenzi's departure on January 22 appears to have motivated Rwandan authorities to seek out other Rwandans who had fled the country and to force them to return. One such person was a forty-year-old soldier Innocent Byabagamba whom Sebarenzi was supposed to have helped leave Rwanda some months before. A Tutsi genocide survivor who held a university degree in chemistry, Byabagamba had joined the RPA and served in the external security division of the Ministry of Defense. Initially a strong supporter of the RPF, Byabagamba was increasingly disillusioned by what he judged to be its political mistakes. Someone who knows him well commented, "He is a man of God and couldn't bear the things that were happening. He saw the injustices and he told them the truth."23 After having expressed his opinions to several RPA officers, he learned on a Friday in September 1999 that he was to be assassinated two days later. He then fled to Burundi.According to several accounts, Byabagamba was accompanied by eight to ten other RPA soldiers.24
On or about February 2, Byabagamba was arrested in Bujumbura, Burundi, whether by Rwandan or Burundian soldiers is unclear. He was taken to the Special Research Bureau (Bureau Special de Recherche) in Bujumbura. From there Rwandan soldiers took him by force back to Rwanda on February 4 or 5 and detained him at the DMI. He was reportedly tortured in Burundi, after his return to Rwanda, or in both places.
At about that same time, a Rwandan businessman named Etienne (Toto) Nzaramba based in Burundi was arrested in Rwanda by soldiers in civilian dress. They ordered him to help them find Francois Rukeba, a Rwandan civilian then living in Burundi. When Nzaramba denied knowing how to locate Rukeba, the soldiers beat him and used electric current to torture him. After two days, they took him to Burundi by helicopter, where they found Rukeba. Three Rwandan soldiers then took Rukeba and Nzaramba to the BSR where they tortured Rukeba until he signed a confession saying that he together with Sebarenzi, Byabagamba, the singer Sankara, and several others were collaborating with the king, Kigeli Ndahindurwa, to overthrow the government of Rwanda. Rukeba and Nzaramba were also returned to Rwanda against their will and detained by military intelligence. Another civilian, Janvier Rugema, was also taken by force in Burundi and returned to Rwanda against his will by Rwandan authorities. Nzaramba was released, but Byabagamba has been charged with desertion and the other two are accused of assisting him to desert the RPA.25
Benjamin Rutabana, a former RPA soldier, and Lieut. j.g. Bertin Murera, an officer in the special intelligence services, were also arrested by Rwandan soldiers in Tanzania and were beaten and returned to Rwanda against their will. Rutabana, a former soldier who had been demobilized after having been injured in combat, was an extremely popular singer. His best known song, "Afrika," castigated Europeans in general and the Catholic Church in particular for having introduced the divisions between Hutu and Tutsi that culminated in the genocide. A faithful rendition of RPF ideology on the question, the song was frequently aired as a music video on Rwandan television. It was so closely identified with Rutabana that "Africa" became his nickname. Just before Sebarenzi was removed, Rutabana became afraid for his own life and reported to family members that he was being followed.26
Lieutenant Murera was said to have been assigned to kill Rutabana but would not do so because they had been in comrades in arms. Instead the two supposedly fled together on January 17. They first sought refuge in Burundi, where they are reported to have requested refugee status with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). But, afraid of being taken by the RPF, they continued on to Tanzania where they again registered with the UNHCR and took rooms at the Central Community Hotel. There they were arrested on February 4 by men purporting to be Rwandan policemen, who told Tanzanian authorities that the two were wanted for having robbed and killed an Indian businessman.27 The Rwandans took Rutabana and Murera back to Rwanda by force. At the border, the detainees reportedly showed signs of having been beaten.
Gasana Ndoba, the president of the National Human Rights Commission of Rwanda, brought these cases to the attention of General Kagame and succeeded in getting authorization to visit the five, who are still detained. Apparently as a result of the intervention by the commission, the detainees have been moved fromthe DMI to regular military prisons and their cases have been transferred to the military justice system. UNHCR officials are also said to be following the case of the two who had been registered with the UNHCR before being returned to Rwanda by force.2823 Human Rights Watch interview, by telephone, February 26, 2000. 24 Ibid.; Imboni, Special Issue, February, 2000. 25 Human Rights Watch, interviews, Kigali, March 7, 2000; by telephone, February 28, 2000, April 16, 2000; Imboni, Special Issue, February, 2000. 26 Human Rights Watch interviews, Kigali, February 11 and 14, 2000; Imboni, Special Issue, February, 2000. 27 Ibid. 28 Human Rights Watch interviews, Kigali, February 28, March 7, 2000.