President Museveni crushes critics in bid to steal January election
Uganda tyranny mirrors Zimbabwe under Mugabe. Sanctions now!
London, UK – 8 December 2020
Peter Tatchell writes:
Ugandan democratic opposition leader Bobi Wine was shot at by security forces in an apparent assassination attempt while he was campaigning in the upcoming presidential election.
Dozens of opposition supporters have been jailed, tortured and murdered by Uganda’s dictator President, Yoweri Museveni, in a bid to steal January’s election. Opposition election campaigns have been roadblocked, banned and disrupted by the army and the police.
The scale of political repression and human rights abuses is so grave that it warrants international action:
1. Suspend Uganda from the Commonwealth.
2. Use the Magnitsky Act to sanction Ugandan leaders with a travel ban and asset freeze.
3. Issue international arrest warrants for Museveni and his police and military chiefs.
Shamefully, the Commonwealth Secretary General and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have failed to take action, or even speak out, against the murderous regime in Uganda, its election rigging and its brutal suppression the democratic opposition.
Ugandan exiles in the UK have delivered a letter to Boris Johnson urging his government to take action, including invoking Magnitsky Act sanctions. It reads:
Dear Mr Prime Minister,
RE: UGANDA CIVIL UNREST PRECEDING THE GENERAL ELECTION ON 14TH JAN 2021
The Uganda British Citizens and Friends (UBCF) is a civil society coalition rising from the current brutality and human rights violations currently in Uganda. We are based here in the UK.
We are writing to draw your attention to an urgent matter that affects our families and friends in Uganda: the appallingly violent political repression in Uganda as the country heads towards its General Election on 14th January 2021.
Our concerns involve the current election violence, rampant brutalities and other human rights violations meted out on opposition political candidates, their supporters, the media and innocent unarmed civilians by the security agencies in the last few days.
The government of Uganda’s security organs; namely the Uganda police, the army, the military police and the government militia have shot and killed close to 100 civilians in the last week (including children and women); and also arrested over 1,000 civilians whilst leaving over 500 civilians with sustained bullet wounds in various hospitals around the country.
This civil unrest followed public demonstrations in different parts of the country in response to the arrest of one opposition MP and presidential candidate: Hon. Kyagulanyi Ssentamu Robert 38) commonly known as “Bobi Wine”.
Bobi Wine was arrested on his campaign trail on Wednesday 18th November 2020 for allegedly breaking COVID-19 guidelines and was taken to Nalufenya detention centre in Jinja (a notoriously known “safe-house” with torture chambers).
Contrary to the law, Hon. Kyagulanyi was arrested by the security agencies without due process through the Uganda Electoral Commission and the Speaker of the Parliament.
Bobi Wine is currently a sitting Member of Parliament. While he was in custody, his family members and lawyers were denied access to him for 48 hours, which is unconstitutional in Uganda – hence leading to protest demonstrations all over the country by his supporters.
As a result of this unlawful arrest, the other presidential candidates decided to halt their campaigns until Bobi Wine was released. This resulted in countrywide demonstrations leading to the above-mentioned deaths and casualties at ther hands of the security forces.
At the outset of his presidential nomination by Uganda Electoral Commission on Tuesday 3rd November 2020, Bobi Wine was immediately arrested and taken to his house where he was kept under house arrest.
Since then, the security forces have been blocking all his campaigns whilst the incumbent president; Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, has been freely campaigning without any hinderance.
President Museveni (76) has been in power since 1986 (now 35 years). In 2017 he removed the presidential age limit of 75 (Article 21b) from the constitution with a view to continue as president indefinitely. Previously in 2005 he had similarly removed the term limits from the constitution, from 2 terms to indefinitely.
Museveni wants to stand and rule Uganda for a further 5 years, leading to 40 years of rule in total. Uganda has never had a peaceful transition of power since independence on 9th October 1962. This may have been the first peaceful transition, if the political ground were levelled.
Bobi Wine, aged 38, is the main contender in the upcoming presidential poll, but Museveni’s state machinery have sought to undermine his campaigning using repressive tactics such as roadblocks leading to Bobi Wine’s public rallies, closing down pre-booked venues for campaign rallies in various districts (Kitgum and Tororo to mention two).
Bobi Wine (Pop star turned politician) is extremely popular and has drawn hundreds of thousands of supporters and followers all over the country.
Museveni’s forces have killed dozens of Ugandans and illegally detained thousands more. They continue to orchestrate intimidation and violence against peaceful, innocent opposition supporters. Nevertheless, Ugandans have persisted and persevered amidst the extreme terror.
Given the current extreme state repression in Uganda, we are seeking for your leadership and support. We urge you and the Foreign Secretary to act as follows:
1. Apply the Magnitsky Act to those in the Ugandan Government, police, military and NRM (the ruling party) who have organised the abuse of human rights, imprisonment of the innocent, wanton tear gassing, torture, maiming, suspected poisoning and blatant murders. The Magnitsky sanctions to include things like travel bans, asset freezes and the issuing of international arrest warrants
2. Suspend financial, non-financial, police and military aid and training to the Ugandan government and its state agencies
3. Call for special session at UN Security Council to address the ongoing human rights abuses, with a view to securing UN peacekeepers and election monitors to monitor and ensure free and fair elections
4. Urge an emergency Commonwealth meeting to address the violations of human rights and to suspend Uganda from the Commonwealth
5. Scheduled a debate in parliament about the Government repression in Uganda
6. Initiate action at Interpol and other international policing bodies to expel the Ugandan police and Ugandan People Defence Forces (UPDF)
7. Grant us a meeting with the Foreign Secretary to discuss these issues and to set up channels of communication so that we provide your Government with on the ground, frontline updates re the situation in Uganda