NEWS FROM UGANDA – up to 18th March 2021

 

I have been posting  updates about Uganda on FACEBOOK and TWITTER almost daily but haven’t managed to keep up with posting on my Blog as well. So here are some of the posts from the past ten days. I am sorry it is such a long post.

The news continues to be very disturbing.

 

 

What democracy calls opposition supporters terrorists?
Robert Kyagulanyi (aka Bobi Wine), President of the main NUP opposition party, consistently and daily advocates non-violence. Many believe the NUP did, in fact, win the Presidential Election on 14th January 2021 but for the increasing evidence of serious polling irregularities. President Museveni (aka M7) has called the opposition terrorists which seems to “justify” the terrible violations of human rights in Uganda, especially since the elections.

“A Ugandan’s Letter to Fellow Humans in Britain” by Yasin Kakande was published in The London Economic on 11th February 2021 and is well worth reading. “In this exclusive article, international journalist, migrant activist and TED Fellow Yasin Kakande, author of a new book on the historical and contemporary reasons for African immigration, “Why We Are Coming”, decries Britain’s continued endorsement of Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, when ordinary Ugandans are suffering greatly from his decades-long military dictatorship.

News from 14th February – 18th March 2021

The Supreme Court threw out Male Mabirizi’s application for Chief Justice Owiny Dollo to recuse himself (because of alleged bias and conflict of interests) when Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine) presented his Petition about electoral irregularities. Bobi Wine therefore withdrew his Election Petition from the Supreme Court because of the lack of independence. On 17th March 2021, Lawyer Male Mabirizi stated he wanted all processes put on hold until the East African Court rules on his case against Chief Justice Owiny Dollo’s refusal to recuse himself from the Kyagulanyi Election Petition.

Power and public address system were switched off as justice Esther Kisakye delivered her dissenting judgment on the withdrawal of the presidential poll petition in a shameful debacle in the Supreme Court.

Justice Esther Kisakye, a member of the Supreme Court, courageously spoke out on 18th March against recent events in the Supreme Court, saying: “I felt it my constitutional duty to disobey the unlawful orders of the Chief Justice and to fulfil my duties as a member of this quorum….. In withdrawing the Presidential election petition, we informed the world of the clearly biased and unprofessional conduct of Chief Justice Owiny-Dollo!” She added that “CJ Owiny-Dollo wanted her minority ruling to be read at a later date.” Consequently, “He just did the unthinkable – confiscated the file of a Justice of the Supreme Court who was giving a dissenting decision!” 

“Kisakye had stood the court over to look for another copy so she could deliver it to the public. However, after getting the ruling, the court decided to switch off the address system, power and the internet which is used for the Zoom, as she started to read the ruling and the other justices also walked away from the bench, leaving her alone to read her judgment.”

Comments from Ugandans:Justice Esther Kisakye is the only constitutionalist Uganda has at the Supreme Court.”
“It takes courage to do what she has done today given the pressure coming from Despot Museveni. Dollo and his gang openly ‘shredded’ the constitution.”

1st  – 4th March – various arrests

 

“Mr. Museveni may pervert all national security forces and institutions to execute his illegal motives, but he should know that the day of reckoning is near. He will not get away with it. No dictator in history ever did,” Bobi Wine noted.

Human Rights Watch has told Museveni that anyone lawfully detained should have immediate access to their family and lawyers, and anyone not yet charged and placed in pre-trial detention should be released in accordance with the law.

7th March 2021

Bobi Wine reported: “One of the teams of leaders we met this week was our team from Kiboga District. We hosted them on Friday, alongside families of victims of abductions, as well as several victims of torture by the military. One of the comrades had his eye shattered while others had all manner of torture marks. Despite the pain and suffering endured by these comrades, their resolve to struggle for change has not diminished. I am very encouraged by the unwavering determination of our people to cause change in this country.”

 

9th March 2021

Bobi Wine: ANNOUNCEMENT OF PEACEFUL PROTESTS
Fellow Ugandans,
As we promised when we withdrew the Election Petition from the Supreme Court, we are bringing this matter to the People of Uganda! As always, the regime is desperately trying to claim that we are planning violent protests. NO. We are calling upon all of you citizens of good will to demonstrate peacefully and unarmed, a right guaranteed by Article 29 of the Constitution.

We are demonstrating with four demands:

  1. We won the January 14th election. Our computation from the DR forms [Declaration of Results] shows that we won with 54.19%, despite the massive ballot stuffing which Gen. Museveni engaged in. This morning we have given details of our election results, and thereafter we’ll release the DR forms on our website. We demand that Gen. Museveni returns the victory of the people of Uganda. If he claims, even remotely that he won this election, we demand that there is an INDEPENDENT AUDIT of the election.
  2. We are demanding that Gen. Museveni and his regime of shame immediately stop abducting the people of Uganda, which they continue to do on a daily basis.
  3. We are demanding that Gen. Museveni and his security operatives #BringBackOurPeople who were abducted. We are demanding that Gen. Museveni immediately releases all political prisoners dead or alive; including those who are in prisons and those who are in torture chambers across the country.
  4. We are demanding that Gen. Museveni immediately stops the trial of civilians in the General Court Martial and other military courts.

 

Photo by Reuters, published by BBC

Why has this man been stripped of his shirt? Why is he being torn apart and dragged like this? Even if a man resists arrest, how is it possible that five armed policemen can’t arrest one man properly? Surely, it means that they are committed to violence and have no intention of arresting people in a civil way. And note that there are more armed police standing in the background. This is totally unacceptable and an indication of the violation of human rights in Uganda.

Meanwhile, the world stands by while thousands are being abducted, tortured and killed in Uganda.

I have seen a video of a mother and her son clinging to each other to try and prevent armed police from taking him away. Of course, she failed.

Another young woman and her baby were shot and killed whilst walking along the road. President Museveni’s wife has said she will “compensate” the family for the death of the baby!

10th March 2021

Read Patience Atuhaire’s interviews (for the BBC) here  with some who have been released and relatives of the hundreds who are still missing after being detained following raids on their homes or during the campaign rallies.

Scars from being tortured whilst he was detained

 

 

 

This is Fabian Luuka who died in hospital at the beginning of March after being dumped by the roadside after several weeks of the most unbelievable and horrific torture, the photos of which are too terrible to share.

 

 

11th March 2021

In an excellent speech worth reading, Bobi Wine addressed Parliament.

Many abductions are happening every day, thousands are still missing and unaccounted for while others have been abandoned after suffering severe torture.

Here is a video of James Mubiru (an NUP opposition Councillor for Rubaga, Kampala) being taken, amidst great struggles, by armed men in plain clothes and put into an unmarked vehicle. There has still been no news of his whereabouts (as of 18th). It is feared that he too will be killed, just like Diana Nanyanzi, another NUP Councillor who was killed a few days ago.

The search is still on for James Mubiru, NUP’s Councillor-elect for Lubaga North who was abducted on Thursday 11th March.
Bobi Wine said, “I am reliably informed that the military first raided comrade Mubiru’s office in Nakulabye town on Wednesday 10th March but did not find him there.” He says security kept tracking him until the following day when they ambushed him at Petrocity fuel station opposite Kasubi old Market. “The military men dragged comrade Mubiru out of his vehicle into theirs, and drove him all the way into State House Nakasero as one of our comrades who pursued them from a distance observed”. Party lawyers have since checked several police stations around the city especially Old Kampala Police Station to see whether he was ultimately dropped there, but the police officers on duty say they are unaware of Mubiru’s case. “I understand, however, that his vehicle was towed to Old Kampala Police Station.

Uganda’s DAILY MONITOR published this long article which indicates that the government and Special Forces Command not only know exactly what is going on but also explain and ‘justify’ it.

A Ugandan journalist and author outside Uganda has written this disturbing comment: “Museveni has been enabled, funded and armed by the British and the USA. It is only them that can push him out … Even if the whole of Uganda did rise up against Museveni, they will never be able to throw him out if Britain and the USA are still on his side. The poor Ugandans simply don’t have what it takes to stand up against a dictator armed by the world’s superpowers. And from US Embassy tweets, it seems like the Biden government is extending another big loan to Museveni. The IMF, World Bank, Pentagon, Washington and London [will only] extend to a dictator these large sums of funding if he is close to them.”

The Electoral Commission published this one Declaration of Results form as an example, themselves declaring it to be genuine, in an attempt to somehow ‘prove’ none of the results hadn’t been rigged. HOWEVER, Professor of Democracy at Birmingahm University, Nic Cheeseman, revealed how the form had actually been altered to take 80 votes away from Bobi Wine! Hoist by their own petard, methinks!

Many other falsified DR forms from around the country continue to appear on Twitter.

Surprisingly, Museveni has now announced that there was fraud in the election – apparently against him!! So what happens now?!

Now that @KagutaMuseveni has also brought his ‘election fraud’ evidence to the public court, where does this leave the Uganda EC [Electoral Commission]? All parties have denounced the elections as fraudulent & not representative of the true will of the people!
Since both @KagutaMuseveni and @HEBobiwine are contesting the outcome of the 2021 elections, let the COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION conduct an independent audit to ascertain the true winner. It’s a clear vote of no confidence in Simon Byabakama [EC Chair] and the Uganda EC team.

12th March 2021

Hon Nyeko Derrick, an NUP MP, called people to join in prayer in Ggaba Market on the outskirts of Kampala, focussing on verse 14 of 2 Chronicles 7: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

“We have started peaceful prayer protests in Ggaba Market today as we call upon the Lord to strengthen  all political prisoners and set them free as we reclaim our victory as a God fearing Nation.”  Many courageously knelt in the market to pray.

 

Sadly, the Church leaders are not standing by those who are being abused and are not challenging Museveni and his government.

Here is a comment from one Christian: “The only problem is that those whom we for a long time thought were men and women of God are NO LONGER as they have been frequenting the state house for state Dinners and hefty brown envelopes paid to them. Some were given cars, others still bribe their way to meet [Museveni] as we know he TERRIBLY LOST to Bobi Wine in the just concluded elections. [The emphases are hers, not mine.]

“These ‘men of God’ have exchanged their priestly garments for money, fame and inverted powers! If you analyse the kind of gospel they preach it’s ALL about Materialism and extortion of money from their followers and enrich themselves rather than to preach the good news of the Kingdom of God. Because they have defiled their spiritual garments, they lost their moral authority and spiritual authority to address the social injustice going on in the country, no matter how many die, get brutalised or kidnapped.”

13th March 2021

Despair from a Ugandan about the religious leaders in Uganda: “The Religious leaders betrayed us Ugandans; now we only trust God and I know he created us when he loves us and trust me, God is going to answer our prayers one day one time. Uganda lives matter.”

And another cry for help to Pope Francis: “@Pontifex your people in Uganda need your voice to rescue their lives. Religious leaders are silent as citizens are being tortured. We’re kidnapped, tortured and killed because we support a different person and voted Museveni out. M7 is ruling us with military. We’re in fear.”

Bobi Wine supporters dumped in Kibukuta swamp near Mpigi 
At least four supporters of the National Unity Platform (NUP), who were allegedly abducted in January 2021 by gunmen believed to be security operatives, resurfaced at around 11pm after spending the [final] few days in unknown detention. “We were ordered not to speak to you (journalists) before being ordered to get out of the drone [unmarked people carriers used to abduct people] which drove us back while blindfolded,” one said. “They look frail. They allege acts of torture and some of them only react by crying when you ask them about their detention,” a resident said.

15th and 16th March 2021

I am not completely clear about the sequence of events on 15th and 16th because of different sources, time lags and confusing posts, but it seems there were peaceful demonstrations and Bobi Wine was arrested at least once during each day.

Bobi Wine announced that he was going to take a petition and list of all the missing people to the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) and Defence Minister in Mbuya after first going to the NUP party offices in Kamwokya . However, he found armed security forces around the Party HQ and was arrested and taken away by them “to an unknown destination”.

Another account said that security forces blocked Bobi Wine from delivering the petition to the CDF and that he was arrested and forcefully driven to his home in Magere from where Bobi Wine tweeted this: “NUP Office Headquarters were put under siege by security agencies. A letter, demanding that all Ugandans under illegal military detention (abducted by different units of the army including SFC, CMI, ISO, LDUs and regular UPDF) be released, was later delivered to the Chief of Defence Forces, David Muhoozi [Museveni’s son who. it is believed, is being prepared by M7 to take over from him]. We shall use all available legal avenues to demand for the release of our people.”

 

Later in the day, there was a peaceful protest in downtown Kampala to remember those who have been abducted. There was a heavy security presence and Bobi Wine was arrested again.

 

Bobi Wine, who was detained again after a protest on Tuesday evening (16th March), continued to emphasise peaceful demonstration as a right to demand fairness. “Speaking at the National Unity Platform’s (NUP) headquarters, Kyagulanyi also responded to President Yoweri Museveni’s statement that the NUP is planning to kill their own supporters and blame it on the Government! He added that if the letter delivered to the CDF the day before is not respected, peaceful demonstrations will continue.”

Many took part in the demonstration, holding posters, some with names of the missing.

 

Cameras filmed the very heavy presence of security forces as they roughly manhandled Bobi Wine and some party members as they ‘arrested’ them. Here are a few (not very good) photos taken from screenshots of the video. To see the video (which is good quality and not violent), go to this article (click on the link for the translation from Dutch) and click on the video.

 

17th March 2021

This is Timothy, a 16 year old child who was arrested in UGANDA on Wednesday and is “currently in custody in Kitalya Prison and expected to appear in court on Friday this week.”

WHY? What has he done wrong? Apparently, “he is accused of supporting change”.

Just look at his face. Pray for him as he stays in the prison where many NUP/Bobi Wine supporters are taken and tortured.

According to Ghetto Media TV in Kampala, “His parents are confused, nowhere to begin from. It’s going beyond control, children are no longer spared.”

 

Does the world see what is happening in Uganda?
Here is a short extract from an interview with a young journalist published today in the Berliner Zeitung:

“One young reporter spreads particularly intense livestreams on his Facebook page: Hussein Ssenyonga alias Sama Uganda. Although he comments on his images almost exclusively in the most widespread, non-official national language, Luganda, which I do not understand, his videos are moving. Sama Uganda is always there when Bobi Wine makes a public appearance. And was broadcasting live when his colleague Ashraf Kasirye, a cameraman on Bobi Wine’s team, was shot on 27 December 2020. In one scene, Sama’s camera suddenly pans to the right. He films military police beating a passer-by on the side of the road. Sama spontaneously comments on the: “The world is watching!” – repeatedly uttered in English like a mantra of hope.

This moment touched me deeply and I asked myself: Is this young man right? Is the world seeing these scenes? Does anyone outside Uganda know what is happening there? A few days after Sama filmed the beating scene, his Facebook channel went silent. On 6 January 2021, he was arrested and spent two weeks in detention. A few days after the presidential election, for which there is now ample evidence that it was rigged, Sama was released from custody. Photos of him in hospital appeared on his Facebook channel and the impression is of a young man who has lost all his strength.”

 

The High Court in Kampala has again dismissed an appeal in which 49 NUP supporters [Bobi Wine’s Campaign Team] who were arrested last year “were challenging the legality of their trial before the General Court Martial in Makindye. In her ruling, Justice Esta Nambayo said that the Army Court has jurisdiction to try them under section 119 of the UPDF Act, which provides that any person found with firearms shall be subjected to military law as these are the preserve of the armed forces.” [Presumably, Bobi Wine’s bodyguard was armed but I cannot find evidence that all the others were armed.]

 

STILL the world (including the BBC, ITV and other news broadcasters) and Western Governments remain silent in the face of ongoing violation of human rights.

UK GOVERNMENT AND PARLIAMENTARY RESPONSES

Stephen Doughty [Joint Shadow Foreign Secretary and Shadow Minister for Africa] announced on Twitter on  March 15th: “Continued intimidation and arrests of opposition politicians in #Uganda of deep concern. Democracy, the rule of law and human rights must be respected. Will be raising with @FCDOGovUK

DEBATE in UK Parliament on 16th March 2021: In reply to the motion “That this House has considered Commonwealth Day 2021”, Stephen Doughty asked: “Will the Minister explain how he is working through the Commonwealth to tackle threats to human rights, democracy and the rule of law, especially in relation to what we have seen in Uganda in recent days? I hope he will say something specifically about that.

The RESPONSE by Duddridge was:I take seriously the issues in Uganda, and like the Hon. Gentleman, I am very concerned about the situation with Bobi Wine. Only yesterday, I was discussing that situation with our high commissioner in that country.

Replies from UK Conservative MPs
A number of us who have Conservative MPs  have now received replies to our letters of concern. Disappointingly, they all contain the same paragraphs, presumably written by someone in the FCDO, which refer only to events leading up to the Election on January 14th with no recognition of, or reference to, the continuing violence and serious abuses of human rights perpetrated by the security forces.

An article in The Times on 18th March highlights the worrying allegation that the current UK Minister for Africa, James Duddridge, is compromised by his alleged relationship with Emmanuel Katongole, a multi-millionnaire Ugandan and close ally of Museveni. Katongole is Chair of the Advisory Board of TLG Capital which is based in London and invests in sub-Saharan Africa. Until recently, Duddridge has worked for TLG. This allegation has now surfaced a number of times around the world and, if true, would explain a lot about why the UK Government is not speaking out against the breakdown of democracy and violation of human rights happening on a daily basis in Uganda. But no doubt Duddridge has taken care to hide his tracks.

It is widely believed that some Western countries (especially the USA, which funds Uganda’s security forces) are using Museveni to fight their war in Somalia against Al-Shabaab. This is perhaps the most important reason why the USA and UK are still supporting Museveni – whilst at the same time, they, and the British media, are shouting out about Myanmar where the situation is far less serious than in Uganda.

It is a TRAGEDY that the world is still allowing this reign of terror in Uganda to go on unchecked.

Bobi Wine continues to advocate non-violent resistance, saying: “Why we opt for non-violence: We remember that HATE cannot drive out hate but LOVE can; VIOLENCE cannot drive out violence but PEACE will.”

When he was arrested, Wine urged his supporters not to fight with the armed police. “Don’t give them a reason.

This means the options left to those in Uganda who are working for a return to democracy and an end to human rights violations are severely limited, especially as demonstrations, civil disobedience and strikes will result in hundreds, if not thousands, of more arrests, torture and deaths. This is why it is so important that people who care about justice around the world need to unite to restore democracy in Uganda.

So let’s keeping working at this together around the world. We need to keep on publicising and spreading news of what is happening (especially on social media) and keep up the pressure on our governments and international institutions to act.

WHAT WE CAN DO

SHARING the online petition again and again on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram really does work. On days when I don’t share it, we get no new signatures (or sometimes one or two). When I do share it on social media, the number of new signatures shoots up – one day, there were over 400 new signatures added! So far, there are 1,194 signatures, which is great – but it’s not enough yet to have any real impact on the UN. We need thousands more.

Missing signatures
Sadly, I am still hearing from friends who have signed but when I check for their names, some still aren’t registered even after several weeks. Since I can only check for the few who have told me they’ve signed, this must mean there are probably hundreds of other missing signatures, which is very disappointing. So even if you have already signed, PLEASE TRY SIGNING AGAIN. If your signature has been registered, it won’t let you sign twice.

Ways you can continue to help

  1. Share the link to the Crisis in Uganda 2021 page;
  2. Share the link to THIS page;
  3. Try to sign the PETITION again (in case your signature didn’t register);
  4. If you let me know whether you have signed, I can check if it has been registered;
  5. Continue sharing and publicising the petition as many times as possible;
  6. Make a small donation direct to Change.org, if you are able to, as that will pay for the petition to be shared to people on their register unknown to us;
  7. Get regular updates and information by following me on TWITTER and FACEBOOK;
  8. Sign up (near the top of the column on the right) to be alerted when I post a new Blog;
  9. Pray in whatever way you can. If you belong to a faith community, ask for Uganda to be put on the ‘agenda’.

 

KEY DATES FOR THE FUTURE

THE SWEARING IN CEREMONY of Museveni as President is due on  Wednesday 12th May 2021.
Time is running out for an independent audit of the electoral process which ideally should happen before M7 is sworn in for the sixth time.

CHOGM (the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) starts on 21st June, this time in Kigali, Rwanda. This will provide the Commonwealth with a very important opportunity to impose sanctions and suspend Uganda from the Commonwealth, which has happened in the past with countries which are seriously violating human rights and destroying democracy. It is worth lobbying Heads of Commonwealth Governments to put this on the agenda and take effective action.

Thank you very much if you have managed to stay the course and read to the end! As a reward, here’s some LIGHT RELIEF! For those who haven’t already watched this, enjoy Bobi Wine’s official song recording made in 2019: https://youtu.be/jJcqew3dQ9g

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