Protesters: Uganda must free tortured activist singer

Protesters in London are demanding an end to the torture and detention of Ugandan activist singer/politician Robert Kyagulanyi. The protest is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday, Aug. 23) in London.

Poster seeks the release of Bobi Wine (Ugandan member of parliament Robert Kyagulanyi)
Poster seeks the release of Bobi Wine (Ugandan member of parliament Robert Kyagulanyi)

The opposition politician/singer, whose stage name is Bobi Wine. was arrested on firearms charges last week after his driver was shot by security forces.

He is supported by the LGBT community. Although he supported Uganda’s short-lived, harsh Anti-Homosexuality Act in 2014, he changed his mind in 2016 and began calling for tolerance,

This is the statement from the protesters:

Uganda: Stop the torture of singer Hon Robert Kyagulanyi also known as Bobi Wine & other opposition activists

Museveni regime is seeking to destroy all political opponents

Join our peaceful protest in London against dictatorship, torture, corruption and imprisonment of singer Bobi Wine and other opposition activists in Uganda by the Museveni regime

Date: Thursday 23 August 2018
Time: 12:30pm
Venue: Uganda High Commission
Address: 58-59 Trafalgar Square (south side) London WC2N 5DX
Nearest tube station: Charing Cross.

The protest is organised by Ugandans in the United Kingdom and their allies.

According to the Chairman of The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) UK and Europe Chapter Prince Dickson Wasajja, on 13 August 2018, Ugandan state agents shot and killed Yasin Kawuma, a driver of one of the famous opposition politicians, Robert Kyagulanyi. They have been arresting opposition politicians on trumped-up charges. The victims have been brutally tortured. Some of the women have been heavily kicked in the stomach, and their internal organs are reported to be damaged (says protest organiser)

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni

He adds, since then, many journalists and innocent people have been tortured by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces under the command of President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power for the last 33 years. Some of the arrested Members of Parliament like Hon Robert Kyagulanyi and Hon Zaake have been tortured beyond recognition. They have been detained in military barracks, with limited medical care and access to their loved ones.

Bobi Wine’s wife, Mrs Barbie Kyagulanyi, said:

“We nearly lost Bobi Wine and others to torture by the state operatives. Bobi Wine cannot stand on his own, his face is swollen and deformed. He has many wounds all over his body, he was carried into the room where we saw him, he speaks with difficulty and has great pain in the left side ribs and hips. Bobi Wine should be getting expert medical care in a hospital not in the military barracks.”

She continued: “Bobi Wine is in a bad physical shape after being tortured by the state operatives but he has not lost his resolve to fight for a better Uganda.”

Robert Kyagulanyi at political rally in March 2018. (Photo courtesy of SoftPower News)
Robert Kyagulanyi at political rally in March 2018. (Photo courtesy of SoftPower News)

Hon Bobi Wine’s brother Eddie Yawe says Bobi Wine is not a violent person. He uses music to inspire people to change however the government has resorted to violence against a decent a musician who uses music as a medium for social, economic and political transformation change. I call upon the music fraternity both local and international to offer support to the cause.

Medard Segona, a lawyer and politician representing Kyagulanyi, said:

“He is in great pain. He can’t talk, he can’t walk, he sits with a lot of difficulty, his face is swollen and cannot see because of the torture. He couldn’t speak when the charges were read to him and I believe he didn’t know what was going or understood the charges read to him during the court martial proceedings last week.”

The Inter-Religious Council of Uganda urged the government to ensure that everyone arrested is treated with dignity in accordance with their rights and that they access justice through open courts of law. It is unfortunate that in a country whose national motto is “For God and My Country”, people with different political orientations cannot tolerate each other.

Many people who know how President Museveni operates believe that the practice of planting evidence against political opponents and others has been going for many years and it has to stop.

African LGBTI activist Edwin Sesange (Photo courtesy of WorkersLiberty.org)
African LGBTI activist Edwin Sesange (Photo courtesy of WorkersLiberty.org)

According to Edwin Sesange, a Ugandan human rights activist and director of the African Equality Foundation:

“Uganda is a signatory to many international human rights conventions which prohibit torture, including the UN Convention Against Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments or punishments. Additionally, Article 24 of the Uganda constitution 1995 enshrines the freedom from torture and Article 44(a) reaffirms that under no circumstance should any person be tortured in Uganda. In 2012 the Ugandan government enacted the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act. However, all the above conventions are being violated by the government assisted by the army and other State forces in Uganda. Therefore, it is impossible to achieve equality under such a regime.”

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has expressed support for the protest and the campaign against President Museveni’s despotic rule:

“This escalating repression has echoes of Zimbabwe twenty years ago. Museveni is the new Mugabe. He fixes elections and violently represses the opposition. The vicious assault, arrest, torture and detention of the popular signer Bobi Wine is symptomatic of the current wave of repression. Uganda should be suspended from the Commonwealth. I stand in solidarity with all Ugandans who are striving for democracy and human rights.”

Ugandan signers show their support for Bobi Wine, delivering gifts to his wife. (Ashraf Kasirye photo courtesy of New Vision)
Ugandan signers show their support for Bobi Wine, delivering gifts to his wife. (Ashraf Kasirye photo courtesy of New Vision)

Protest coordinator Miss Belinda Atim states that. “The UK government has been forthright on violations of human rights by other countries. However, they have been silent on Uganda. We, therefore, appeal to them to demand the following from the Uganda government:

  1. Immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners.
  2. Medical treatment and compensation for all torture victims.
  3. The rule of law.
  4. Free and fair elections.
  5. An immediate end to the killing, torture, framing and illegal detention of innocent Ugandans.
  6. An end to corruption and embezzlement of public funds”.

One of the organisers of the protest, Mr Godfrey Kawalya, said,

“For the past 33 years, the UK government has failed in its duty of care to protect the people of Uganda against the ruthless, dictatorial, corrupt, murderous and torturous regime led by Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. The tyrant uses the state machinery against political opponents by planting evidence on them, using this to justify their arrests, torture and illegal detention. Many Ugandans have been murdered and incapacitated by the regime with no action from the UK government and the international community. This is the time for action against dictatorship in Uganda. I appeal to every person to join our cause to end dictatorship and gloss human rights violation in Uganda.”

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