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How the kidnap, torture and attack on people-power supporters started

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As political waves blow towards the 2021 general elections in Uganda , People Power, a political pressure group is experiencing nightmares of torture, kidnap and gruesome killing of its members.

Two weeks back, musician and ardent supporter of the Kalinda Michael aka Zigy Wyne was abducted and subjected to torture. His left eye was plucked out, two of his fingers cut off and parts of his body were burnt with a flat iron and dumped at Mulago hospital by unknown people where he spent a week before being identified by his family and friends and finally he was announced dead on Sunday.

In August 2018, the patron of people power who doubles as the MP for Kyadondo east, Robert Kyagulanyi, was brutally arrested and tortured before being leveled with charges of illegal possession of fire arms which were later dropped by general court martial.

His colleague, Mityana municipality MP Francis Zaake was beaten and later dumped at Rubaga hospital by unknown people. President Museveni later said the ailing MP who even traveled to India for further treatment escaped from police custody and charges of unlawful escape from police cells were leveled against him and later dropped by Arua magistrate’s court.

The two and 36 other Ugandan political leaders were later charged with treason in Gulu Magistrates court.

On that fatefully day Bobi wine’s driver, Yasin Nyanzi, was gunned down by security operatives a head of the Arua by-election where Bobi wine and his team had gone to converse votes for the Kassiano Wadri who won the seat. Police has since said the driver was killed by a stray bullet.

On 14th May, 2019 Raphael Walugembe coordinator and student of Nkozi University was shot dead in Nateete under suspicious circumstances. Around May 20th Mukisa Joshua William one of the People Power candidates in the Makerere University guild election was kidnapped, only to reappear with severe torture marks. Likewise, Ashburg Katto who also works with our media team was kidnapped only to be later dumped at a roadside.

On 22nd May, people power supporter and coordinator Okot P’ Bitek Junior sustained grave injuries after being shot in Amolatar district by a UPDF solider. On May 23rd, Ssebulime Rashid, a local leader in Kawempe Division was attacked and his house set ablaze. He sustained severe injuries. On 3rd June, our mobiliser from Busiro North constituency, Kibalama John Bosco was abducted and to date, his whereabouts are not known.

On 4th June, another coordinator, Lucky Bosmic Otim was severely brutalized by the police in Gulu district. On 7th June, an adrdent mobiliser and L.C. 5 Councilor for Buvuma district, Lukoma Stephen Ssalongo was shot dead.

Recently, the political pressure group revealed that its supporters are being arrested and detained for putting on either the red beret or t-shirts branded with their symbols or slogans.

According to Bobi Wine, during court sessions and rallies, countless young people are brutalized, arrested and illegally detained in the various cells around the country. Many have reported being beaten up from police stations and asked to denounce People Power if they want to live.

“Indeed last year, a well-wisher released a video recording of police officers at Kajjansi police post beating up 30 year old Kassim Migadde as they mocked him for associating with People Power.” He said

“At the end of April this year, when I was brutally arrested and illegally placed under house arrest, many young people who came out to peacefully protest against police brutality were arrested, tortured and many are still under detention. It was during that time that our friend and comrade, Nalongo Nana Mwafrika was manhandled by police officers, severely tortured, culminating in losing her uterus! Earlier, Justine Ssekandi, a female artiste who composed a song in support of our movement was abducted from Kamwokya, beaten to a pulp and dropped in the mortuary thinking she was dead – she spent several hours amongst dead bodies!,” he noted.

Bobi wine said these matters have however never been investigated by the authorities and perpetrators brought to book never yield much. Further, we have filed several court cases about these violations including the one about the murder of my driver Yasin Kawuma, but there has not been much progress. The Uganda Human Rights Commission has equally let us down in our efforts to put an end to untold levels of torture and brutality.

“Sometimes, officers handling them have disclosed that they have orders from above not to follow them up. Many colleagues including those I work with very closely have received calls from unknown people with clear threats of death, should they continue to support People Power! Only yesterday, music promoters Andrew Mukasa (Bajjo) and Abbey Musinguzi (Abtex) were violently arrested, and their music show blocked for their perceived association with me and People Power!” he narrated

I must add that many other people, who have been vocal in opposing President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s regime of 33 years, regardless of whether they belong to his ‘party’ or other political formations have been equally assaulted, tortured and intimidated.

Three weeks back, former journalist and preacher, Joseph Kabuleta was abducted from a restaurant, bundled into a private vehicle and taken into a security facility where as he narrates, he was subjected to torture and intimidation.

Similarly, on 24th June, Oprah Phoebe Kiddu a youth leader in NRM party was abducted by security operatives from Mengo in Kampala and subjected to gross forms of torture for over three weeks until she was dumped on the roadside on 19th July. She has stated that her captors demanded that she stops opposing Museveni’s sole candidature as well as leading a pro-democracy pressure group.

“As we draw towards the 2021 elections, it is apparent that President Museveni is determined to silence any form of dissent using extreme violence. Although he came to power castigating former presidents Milton Obote and Idi Amin of torture and extra-judicial killings of their opponents, he seems determined to out-do their record in terms of committing unspeakable atrocities against the wanainchi,” Said Mr Kyagulanyi

He said, despite these grave and provocative violations against us and our people, they are committed to using peaceful means in our quest for political change in Uganda.

“We call upon all peace loving citizens of the world to join us in condemning horrendous violations against innocent citizens in Uganda. We thank you all for your support and solidarity thus far, and continue to call upon you to support us as we struggle for a better country which respects human rights and human dignity. We can and shall achieve this, God being our help,” he concluded.

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