Today, I will let Bobi Wine speak for himself as he tells the world what is happening in this moving and disturbing account of the conditions that political prisoners are suffering in Uganda. I have added some photos from other sources.
(Robert Kyagulanyi, better known as Bobi Wine, is President of the NUP Opposition party in Uganda.)
Nubian Li, Eddie Mutwe, Mbogo, Dan Magic, Kampala Lookman, Kafuko Stanley, Bobi Young, Mudde Ntambi, Sheriff Najja and many other friends and comrades are holed up at Kitalya Government Prison for close to three months now. Gen. Museveni arrested them, tortured them, tried them, convicted them, and sentenced them to a term in jail.
Their stated crime according to the charge sheet is unlawful possession of ammunition, an offence they apparently committed on 3rd January, when they were already under military custody.
But we all know their real crime, don’t we? Museveni is punishing them for believing that Uganda deserves better. He is punishing them for associating with me. He is punishing them for daring to dream that a New Uganda is possible.
For comrades like Nubian Li and Eddie Mutwe, their crime is even more severe. How dare they reject the many offers of money which the regime made to them to betray me? For the past three years, the regime has sent countless envoys to all people I work with closely. Some have been offered money, others jobs, others trips abroad, others land, etc. Nubian Li, Eddie and other leaders have been some of their key targets. These two flatly rejected these offers and the envoys were very clear- “You will not love the consequences.” Some as we all know accepted the offers and chose to work for the dictator!
And so here they are. Prisoners of conscience. Held illegally. Denied their freedom. Political prisoners. Detained for being on my campaign team.
I have been permitted to see them at Kitalya two times now. Yes, their spirits are not fazed. Their resolve is even firmer. But their bodies are weak and frail. Very many of them have fallen very sick behind the walls of Kitalya. The hygiene behind those walls is sickening. The state of healthcare is alarming. The indignity! Those who are critically ill are simply asking for an opportunity to see their private doctors, or to be transferred to meaningful health facilities. According to them, they are only given pain killers and sometimes a few antibiotics at the facility, regardless of the severity of their conditions. Demands for better medical attention have been repeatedly shot down with a reminder that they are in prison!
Recently some of our comrades who were released from Kitalya informed us of a wave of diarrhoea which has hit the prison. Because of a strict lock up policy, adults will often pass stool right inside the wards, where they also sleep. They have complained of incredible congestion – hundreds of inmates being compressed in space meant for only a few. Yet every day, more prisoners are brought in! They assert that 90% of the people who are taken to Kitalya are political prisoners – regardless of what the court documents read! Some have been charged with inciting violence, being found in possession of military stores, or spreading COVID19. But in real sense, these comrades are taken to the prison simply for supporting NUP and professing People Power!
Many of them, like John Bosco Serunkuuma who was abducted on 3rd December, only appeared before the Court Martial once, and they have never appeared again. Others have been on remand for even much longer periods.
The last time I was there, I listened to them as they narrated the conditions under which they live. Several of them showed all manner of skin diseases. Some can hardly sleep – firstly because they are packed like logs on the floor with a few beddings, and secondly because of the bedbug infestation.
There is an acute water shortage. For some odd reason, the prison does not provide toilet paper! Only a few of them are allowed to use a toilet at a time. They line up and wait for a chance to use a toilet. Some times, that chance does not even come because there is no water! Bathing is also a hustle – the comrades have told us how they have to compete for the very little water available. At times, they take several days without washing.
Even the basic rights have long been taken away from these comrades. We took several books for them to read, but the prison authorities rejected them claiming that they were political in nature! Apparently, the only books allowed in there are Love stories, and self help books like “Make money and grow rich.” Even books about our country’s history are not permitted beyond the prison’s gate! I personally took several books for these comrades to read in this period, but was forced to return with them.
Unlike several prisons where TV sets are placed in wards, our comrades have made the request to have a TV set in the wards, even if at their own cost, but this too has been rejected. Gen. Museveni must be very happy, seeing the punishment he has chosen to inflict on them. They have even requested to be allowed new sets of boxers after three months, but this too has been rejected!
They are not even allowed to exercise, except once a week when they are allowed to play a game for about three hours. Some of our comrades have been used to working out every day, in order to keep healthy and fit. But at Kitalya, if one is found doing push-ups, that is a severe crime! Then you’re accused of plotting to escape from prison or planning to beat up prison warders! The punishment given is even more humiliating – one is taken for solitary confinement in a room filled with water, for several days.
I am sure the comrades who have come out will have occasion to tell these stories better, but I wanted to tell you that our comrades are living under dire conditions.
While at Kitalya for no crime whatsoever, their lives have stalled. Some have lost loved ones, including Achleo Kivumbi whose father passed on several weeks back. Parents of several of them such as Pympah are undergoing severe health problems, and their children [have no one] to support them logistically and psychologically.
We continue to support their families where we can, but it is such a huge cost. And definitely, our support cannot replace that family bond and touch. Several of them have very young children who are frequently sick. Others have school-going children. While Museveni and his cronies are able to take their children and grand children to the best schools here and abroad at the cost of the tax payer, these comrades’ children are stuck – having to go back to school without several needs, or not going to school at all.
I am thinking about all Ugandan political prisoners tonight. I am thinking about those who we know and the countless ones who we don’t know. I am thinking about those at Kitalya, those at Kigo, those at Luzira, those at Gulu prison, those at Kyamugolani, those at Kassajjagirwa, those in the ‘safe’ houses and all other detention facilities. I am thinking about all political prisoners tonight.
I call upon all of you Ugandans to think about our fellow citizens who cannot read this post tonight because of choosing a political leader and political party of their choice. Think about them; pray for them, and continue demanding for their freedom from unlawful detention.
“Sadness may endure a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
WE SHALL OVERCOME!
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