Stella Nyanzi, Ugandan LGBT ally, arrested at Covid-19 protest

Ugandan LGBT ally and academic scholar Dr Stella Nyanzi was arrested today in Kampala at a public protest demanding food for women and vulnerable people in the ongoing national Covid-19 lockdown.

From the African Human Rights Media Network

Dr Stella Nyanzi is wrestled to the ground by police during her arrest today in Kampala.

By Kikonyogo Kivumbi

Local media is reporting that Dr Stella Nyanzi was arrested on Monday morning near Buganda Road Court in Kampala as she and other protesters were walking to the Office of Uganda’s prime minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, to seek an explanation of why the government had left people to starve even as several food distributions have been made.

The arrest comes two months after Dr Nyanzi, a feminist academic and writer, was released from prison after serving an 18-month sentence for insulting Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his family.

Dr Stella Nyanzi during a previous court appearance on charges of insulting President Yoweri Museveni and his family.

Dr Nyanzi is a defiant activist who has stood with Ugandan homosexuals during their persecutions, and unlawful detention. In recent years, she has also criticised the ruling government for corruption, abuse of power and the murders of women.

According to the petition associated with today’s protest, Dr Nyanzi and other individuals in the Women’s Working Group umbrella organisation contend that many needy Ugandans have not received relief food to help them cope with the lockdown. They attribute this to exclusion of civil society organizations and religious leaders from the distribution project. The petitioners claim civil society and religious leaders know their communities better than the security officers currently assigned to distribute the food, Uganda’s Daily Monitor newspaper reported.

Dr Stella Nyanzi being whisked away by Police. (Photo courtesy of Reuters)

Prior to her arrest, Dr Nyanzi posted on her Facebook wall:


I am marching today through Kampala city with my empty sauce pans and my hungry children in protest against the HUNGER PANDEMIC spreading all over Uganda during the Covid-19 lockdown. I am marching with my sister-comrade Nana Mbarikiwa and her children.

We are taking a petition to the Prime Minister who is the head of the Covid-19 task force. We are going on a lunch date with Dr. Ruhukana Rugunda. We hope he will fill our empty sauce pans and cooking pots with good things.

Please join us as we march through the city with our pots and pans. Please join us as we resist the evils born out of the Covid-19 lockdown in Uganda. Please come and march for the hungry, the starving, the dying, the locked in vulnerable!

Kikonyogo Kivumbi, the author of this article, is the executive director of the Uganda Health and Science Press Association.