Post Election Violence in Uganda: Truth unadulterated

Post Election Violence in Uganda: Truth unadulterated
Charles Nwoke, Kampala, Uganda.
March 13, 2021

Images courtesy of local sources, fair use. 

Since the commencement of electioneering campaigns in November 2020, Ugandan security agencies have clamped down on opposition leaders and members, and correspondent reporters, aggressively apprehended and tortured scores of people, including the presidential candidates Patrick Amuriat Oboi of the Forum for Democratic Change and Robert Kyagulanyi, of the National Unity Platform. On November 18 and 19 respectively, security forces clamped down on innocent protesters demanding the release of then detained Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine, which caused the death of at least 54 people.

List of names of those abducted by the State 1

Tension climaxed in a controversial January 14, 2021, Ugandan general elections that left many citizens of the country – especially those who oppose the age-long President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni – apoplectic about the state of democracy in this country where, in recent years, election-related agitations and demonstrations have become the order of the day; and it’s usually a deadly ritual.

The Uganda Communications Commission on the directive of the government ordered the shutdown of internet service and access to social media. Social media such as Twitter, YouTube, and others remained shutdown until when the election was completed.

List of those abducted by the state 2. 

 

The National Police Public Relations Officer, Fred Enanga told newsmen that they couldn’t report on the election and warned voters not to hang around the voting areas. Also, the Inspector General of Police Martin Okoth Ochola warned journalists during a news conference that, “we shall beat you for your own sake to help you understand that don’t go there.”

On January 16, the 76-year-old Yoweri Museveni was declared the winner of the controversial election with 58% of the total vote for his sixth tenures in office as the president by the Ugandan Electoral Commission.

But after police arrested Kyagulanyi and Amuriat for allegedly ignoring the coronavirus orders, their supporters accused police of targeting only opposition events.

Ugandan forces surrounded and sieged Kyagulanyi’s compound on a house arrest and people were prevented from going in or out of his premises, just a day after the election. Security forces equally blocked entrance to his party’s head office in Kampala, allegedly to “counter any plans to violent demonstrations and mass riots.”

Security forces sent back people that visited Kyagulanyi, including the United States Ambassador to Uganda, Natalie E. Brown. Reports have it that soldiers beat Francis Zaake, an opposition member of parliament, who tried to pay a visit to him.

According to local media reports, during the campaigns, police fired teargas and in some cases, live bullets were shot to disperse crowds during opposition rallies, citing government Covid-19 regulations restricting public gatherings as the reason for the inhuman treatment. Police fired teargas during several of Kyagulanyi’s rallies, including in Lira, Mayuge, and in Kasese on November 24, where up to six people were reported wounded after police fired live bullets. Later in December, Kyagulanyi was briefly detained and many of his supporters were arrested during a rally on an island in Kalangala by security forces.

In furtherance of President Museveni’s breach of fundamental human rights and dictatorial leadership, the authorities under his watch restricted the media from covering opposition party members’ political rallies, and in some cases, journalists were dealt with and shot.

On November 5 for instance, police shot Moses Bwayo in the face with a rubber bullet as he was filming Kyagulanyi arriving at his party’s office in Kampala. Also, Ashraf Kasirye, a journalist with the National Unity Platform-owned Ghetto Media, was badly injured while covering a rally in Masaka, Central Uganda, after police fired at him. Francis Senteza, Kyagulanyi’s bodyguard, was killed later that day when a military truck allegedly ran him over.

According to local reports, authorities similarly restricted the work of activists and civil society groups, including by blocking National Elections Watch Uganda, a coalition of local organizations, from monitoring the elections. On January 14, over 20 persons working with Citizen Watch-IT and the Women’s Democracy Network, election monitoring groups were arrested, for operating a “parallel tallying center.”

Killings, kidnap, and torture; the order of the day.

The post-election era in Uganda has witnessed a consistent violation of human lives, harassment, and intimidation of innocent citizens in the order of the day. People are being killed, tortured, and in most cases, abducted by the machinery of the government of the day who does not want opposition under the hunger and quest to retain and sustain power by all means.

Also, the just-concluded general election was believed to be marred by irregularities, and as such, the said victory of President Museveni was generally believed to be against the will of the masses of Uganda. This resulted in the upsurge been heard of in the country today, as members of the opposition have continued to protest and agitate for what they believe is a violation of their rights.

Many of the citizens, especially the opposition members are scared of what may likely happen to them from the government, and therefore many of them have refused to answer questions from journalists or comment on the ongoing pogrom in the country. Dr. Lina Zedriga Waru said, “They are planning to arrest me. I am very cautious of who I engage with.”

The closest rival and one of the Presidential aspirants and the major opposition leader, Robert Kyagulanyi is popularly known as Bobi Wine, have revealed that 423 members of their party are missing and the present regime in the country could not account for them.

He made this shocking revelation through his Facebook page on the 5th of March, when he gave an update to his members on the issues at stake.

Kyagulanyi said, “Here is the status update on abducted NUP/People Power supporters, whose details we have been able to capture so far.

“There are many more across the country whose details are still coming in.

“According to this list, 423 people are still missing while 41 who were abducted have since surfaced mostly with torture wounds. In this list, we also have 19 people who were murdered during campaigns, 12 who were arrested and arraigned before military courts, and 27 who have been granted bail by military courts.

“According to the list released by Gen. Jeje Odong yesterday, they are only accounting for 89 of the 423 of our missing persons, meaning that 334 of these are still unaccounted for. He was silent about the torture wounds which some comrades have resurfaced with, as well as those who have shown up dead, such as Rogers Semakula of Mukono,” he added.

In another development, a member of the opposition group who was gruesomely murdered by the Ugandan government-led military, Comrade Fabian Luuka was yesterday, Friday, laid to rest in Maracha, Arua District.

The victim who was until his death employed as a casual laborer by Kakira Sigar was said to be traveling to Jinja from West Nile when late Fabian along with three other persons was intercepted and dragged out at Luwero military checkpoint last month for possession of NUP membership cards.

A lawyer, a human rights activist, Dr. Lina Zedriga Waru, who was visibly deeply moody when contacted, narrated the ugly story surrounding Fabian’s death, she said, “I am in a burial. I am very emotionally torn. The deceased was called Fabiano Luuka from Maracha Arua District. They were recruited as casual laborers by Kakira Sigar works.

“They were being transported to Jinja from West Nile. At Luwero they were intercepted at a military roadblock last month. Tortured two of them died on the spot and buried in an undisclosed grave.

“Fabian was dumped at Makawa. Later he was picked and taken to a hospital in Naguru.

“Their crime was being in possession and membership cards of NUP.”

Dr. Zedriga added that one person among the four of them discharged from the vehicle is still missing up till this moment and no one could account for him.

“The fourth person is still missing. Fabian succumbed to the torture last Tuesday in Kirudu hospital.

“Body was transported and buried yesterday.”

“He left two orphans, Scovia Eyotaru 11 and Peter Anguzu 4 years,” she added.

Another source who is the leader of the opposition group Robert Kyagulanyi explained that the only crime committed by the late Fabian and three others against the government was that they had NUP membership cards, and that cost the lives of innocent young men.

He said, “Today, Comrade Fabian Luuka was laid to rest in Arua. The media was blocked from covering the funeral. We are informed that Fabian and three other young men from Maracha were on their way to Kakira as casual workers.

“On military manned checkpoint in Luwero, they were found in possession of NUP membership cards. Four of them were dragged out of the lorry transporting them, two tortured, killed and it’s said that they were buried somewhere in Luwero in an undisclosed place; while Fabian and another colleague of his were taken, tortured badly. Fabian dumped in Nakawa in a critical condition while the whereabout of his colleague is unknown.

“The two who were killed on the spot are Agodri Azori and Obindu from the same village with Fabian. The other missing one was from Terego. These young men had been recruited as casual workers in Kakira and were on their way being transported to work when soldiers found them with NUP membership cards, they ended up murdered by the state.

“Fabian left two children, Eyotaru in P4 and Peter Anguzu of just 3 years. Their crime is that they were found in possession of NUP membership cards.

“These young men from Maracha and Terego did not know any other language apart from Lugbara,” he added.

The government of Uganda is doing everything within her power to clamp down on opposition and remain the lone voice in the land, thereby rule the country as long as it wishes to.

To achieve this, the government security agents now pursue their victims without uniforms or any proper means of identification.

Just two days ago, one Nhetto, a young and close supporter of Kyagulanyi and a founding member of the opposition music fan group #FireBaseArmy was surrounded by heavily armed men and was forced into a vehicle around Acacia Mall.

An eyewitness said he was violently assaulted before being bundled into the car.

Kyagulanyi said, “The latest victim is Nhetto, one of my close young supporters and founding member of our music fans group #FireBaseArmy. He was going about his business around Acacia M