Dozens in Uganda prison after anti-LGBTI nightclub raid

Ugandan authorities have sent 67 people to Luzira Prison to await court action related to their arrest during a Nov. 10 raid on the gay-friendly Ram bar in Kampala.

Kim Mukisa et Jackson Mukasa étaient détenus dans la prison de Luzira en Ouganda jusqu'à ce qu'ils soient libérés sous caution en attendant leur procès.

Luzira Prison

Others of the 125 people arrested during that raid were released after posting a bond or paying a bribe. At first, the arrests were described as related to drugs, but the detainees are currently facing charges of being a public nuisance.

After the raid, Kuchu Times reported, “The arrested were paraded before the media and have been charged with possession and use of narcotics although it is evident that this is a whitewash lie and the raid was a direct [attack] on the LGBT+ community. The bar which sells Shisha, a common recreational vaporized mixture of tobacco often mixed with other flavors and ingredients, is a well-known hangout for many sexual and gender minorities — in fact it is the only openly gay-friendly hangout within Kampala.”

Kuchu Times reported today:

#RAM125: 67 remanded to Luzira Prison

Following the unwarranted arrest of 125 people from Ram bar on Sunday 10th November 2019, a total of 67 have gone on to be remanded to Luzira prison. Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) secured bond for some of those that had been arrested while 67 who appeared in court were charged with being public nuisances and sent on remand where they await to reappear in court.

Logo of the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF)

Logo of the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF)

Some, who were sent to prison without taking plea due to the absence of state attorneys, were remanded until 15th and 18th November while others will reappear in court on 26th and 27th November for ruling on their bail applications.

We have also since learnt that some people were released after paying bribes to the police personnel that were on duty.

According to one of the people that was released after having her statement taken, all those that were allowed to leave the police station had substantial sureties. “Everyone who was released had a number of people who were willing to come forward as sureties; this is the only reason we made it out. The people that were sent to Luzira had no sureties,” our source narrated.

We spoke to our source in detail about what happened that night and she shared her traumatic experience.

“I had been to a day event with two of my friends and we later decided to relocate to a different bar. We decided on Ram where we arrived at about 12:30am. We ordered for our first drinks and as we sought out a place to sit, the Police entered the bar and rounded us up.

In the scuffle, some people got very hurt and others managed to escape. They commanded the rest of us to sit on the floor and a few minutes later the media people entered with their cameras. People that had caps and glasses were forced to remove them; we were being forced to look directly into the cameras. After the media had had a field day, we were thrown onto the waiting patrol cars. People were being beaten and dragged all over the place.

On reaching Central Police Station, we were told to remove our shoes and hand in as well as register all our property before being thrown into the cells. I cannot even begin to tell you how despicable the conditions in these cells are.

While in the cell, something that proved to us that this arrest had nothing to do with drugs or narcotics happened. One of the ladies we had been arrested with had managed to sneak in a phone and she called her brother who works with police. After explaining what had happened and how she ended up behind bars, her brother explicitly stated that they were already aware of the gay bar that had been raided and the homosexuals that had been arrested,” she intimated.

Our source further revealed that the people that sustained injuries during the arrest did not receive any medical attention. One of the arrested who is on dosages of daily Anti-Retroviral and Tuberculosis drugs was also denied access to his medication during the time of his detention despite making several pleas to be allowed a phone call to have his drugs brought to him.

HRAPF, through their social media thanked all the individuals and organisations that had been vital in the release of the community members and for now, the legal teams working on the case are doing everything to ensure that the remanded secure bail when they next appear in court.

Dozens of Ugandans sit cross-legged, police patrolling around them, outside the Ram bar after the Nov. 10 police raid. (Photo courtesy of Twitter via Pink News)

Kuchu Times reported on Nov. 11:

THE WITCH HUNT CONTINUES: LGBT+ Friendly Bar Raided, 125 Arrested

The Uganda Police Force, in the wee hours of Sunday 10th November 2019, raided an LGBT+ friendly bar along Hannington Road where they arrested 125 people, most of whom are community members.

The arrested were paraded before the media and have been charged with possession and use of narcotics although it is evident that this is a white wash lie and the raid was a direct on the LGBT+ community. The bar which sells Shisha, a common recreational vaporized mixture of tobacco often mixed with other flavors and ingredients, is a well-known hangout for many sexual and gender minorities- in fact it is the only openly gay friendly hangout within Kampala.

With several bars in and around Kampala selling Shisha, one can only wonder why Ram a bar that was most certainly going to be filled to capacity with LGBT+ identifying individuals was singled out for this operation. In the past, when such operations have been carried out, a number of bars within the city are raided but last night’s operation clearly targeted one venue.

The arrested spent the night at Central Police Station where they were having statements taken this afternoon. According to our source at CPS, the arrested are to appear in court before close of business today or in the next couple of days.

It should be noted that the witch hunt for LGBT persons has drastically increased in the last couple of months with a number of community members being attacked and some losing their lives due to homophobic assaults.

Activists and allies of the community have strongly condemned this operation that is being disguised as a narcotics crackdown.

“That narcotics and drug excuse is being stage managed. Homophobia is exercised in many ways that are used to justify hate, violence, oppression, exclusion and persecution. In Uganda we have seen homophobia justified by morality then religion then culture then recruitment in schools then pedophilia then HIV/AIDS then terrorism and now drugs and narcotics,” Solome Nakaweesi a strong ally of the community shared.

Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, a vocal LGBT activist also spoke up against the sham charges. “As you may have heard 125 LGBT plus friends were arrested last night at the gay friendly bar we have used for the last 7 years for community events. Thy were arrested on drug charges. This we know they did coz they are now aware that it’s difficult to prosecute anyone for being LGBT as the past has shown. These tramped up charges are very hard and so it’s going to be a tougher battle,” she wrote on her Facebook timeline.

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