Uganda's Mass "Drowning" At Entebbe Case Doesn't Pass The Smell Test

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Gen. Museveni's election preparations

[Africa: Elections 2016]

Given the violence we've already seen as Uganda's presidential election campaign continues, including the suspicious deaths of scores of people who's bodies were found on the beach, in my opinion, it is strange and obscene that the East African Community (EAC) and the United Nations Security Council have made the surprising choice of Dictator Yoweri Museveni to re-start peace negotiations to avert genocide in Burundi.

Does the EAC and UN Security Council believe Gen. Museveni has experience where such matters are concerned? If so, what kind of experience is this?

One need not be a genius, or have a Ph.D., to figure out that circumstances similar to those in Burundi are taking place in Uganda, albeit at a lower level and always disguised as something else. The recent “drownings” at multiple beaches involving mostly men whose bodies washed ashore the day after Christmas 2015 remain unexplained.

The Uganda government claimed all the dead were "drowning" victims.

It cites “swimming while drunk” as the primary cause of death. The government admits to 13 victims; credible information suggests as many as 62.

Most critically, people who have handled drowning cases suggest that something else is afoot and that the science and basic available information don't support the government's explanation.

Among the dead are, as of last count, nine Muslims alleged to have been among the dozens of victims whose “drowning” is attributed to drinking and partying on Christmas Day. Is it not curious that Muslims were celebrating Christmas and deciding to consume alcohol and then swim and consequently "drown"?

Conveniently for the government there are no eyewitnesses. The government, in an apparent public relations stunt, concocted a story that included a reprimand of the general public against partying alone. Apparently, partying alone explains the gaps in time between the “drownings,” and when police were notified, and when police arrived at each scene?

This is ridiculous.

By definition, a party involves more than one-person merrymaking. One reasonably believes, because it has not happened in times past, that there would be no apparently spontaneous and widespread instances of “drownings” at multiple locations along Nnalubaale (Lake Victoria) in which so many lives were lost.

In addition, it seems bad police investigating to assume that all these cases were "drownings." There has been discussions making the rounds which suggests that at least some of the bodies were riddled with bullet holes.

Yet police have jumped to the “drowning” explanation.

The government claims that the bodies were collected between December 23 and December 27, 2015. The government has boxed itself into a tight corner, because the reported dates are scientifically problematic.

Accepted science regarding when and how bodies wash ashore is neither obscure nor complicated.

At 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 Celsius), it takes a body approximately 14 to 25 days to resurface. At 50 degrees F (10 C), it takes a body 10 to 14 days to resurface. And, at 60 degrees F (15.5 C), it takes a body 7 to 10 days to resurface. The temperature in Nnalubaale in December 2015, around Christmas, was 70 degrees F (21.1 C). Applying the science to the facts suggests that a body in Nnalubaale will generally take an average 7 days to resurface.

But the government claims that these people participated in Christmas partying, “drowned,” and their bodies resurfaced between December 23rd and 27th. This is noteworthy because there were gunshots heard around Entebbe approximately seven to 10 days before the bodies began resurfacing.

Here is another problem: According to credible sources in Kampala, most, if not all, of these bodies have tell-tale signs of physical trauma; one would not expect that of the body of a person who simply drowned.

Are these serial drowning cases or serial murders?

If they didn't drown then who are the people responsible for their deaths?

Why are the dead from a specific demographic? Why Entebbe? Of what relevance is the location of Nnalubaale to these “drowning” cases?

Apart from the proximity to the International Airport, what else is in the general area and how might it explain these deaths if as it appears "drowning" was not the cause?

Who has the means and inclination to cause such deaths without what we now understand to be the absence of witnesses?

The Uganda Police identified these victims but claimed they had been swimming and had “drowned” after which their bodies washed ashore. How was the Police able to identify these individuals?

The Police managed to flash a number of identity card documents which raises a number of questions.Where did those identity cards come from? When they allegedly "drowned" where were the victims’ wallets?Remember there were no witnesses to the supposed mass “drowning” and these bodies washed ashore in locations on Nnalubaale’s shores where they don’t seem to have been in the first place.

The Police spokespersons announced that the cause of death in the victims was “drowning due to alcohol consumption.”It defies common sense and logic. If alcohol kills you while swimming, a credible post mortem will show, in addition to showing that there was a volume of alcohol sufficient to kill you, that there was water in your lungs to indicate that you were living when alcohol caused death while swimming.

If you say someone has “drowned” you mean that he or she has been underwater and unable to breathe, which led to death.  So, which is the government's alleged cause of death? The government announced its verdict of cause of death as death through alcohol consumption before any post mortems were done.Why are we seeing what is unraveling before our eyes now? Timing is everything; but why now?

Who is responsible for a string of deaths that involve, in no particular order: burning of primary schools and killing infants; staged automobile related deaths billed as "accidents" that defy reason and are inexplicably bizarre; murder while in police custody; a political campaign mobilizer’s body turning up in a river thereby providing the Inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura, with the perfect opportunity to contribute 1M/=Uganda Shillings ($308.00) to cover burial expenses; the murder of a prosecutor in an official government vehicle that the government blames on the perennial Al Shabab; and, the murder of Muslim Clerics, all of which occur, as a matter of routine, in Buganda region.

Why Buganda and Baganda? Are Baganda the victims of choice or is Buganda, including places as far as 120 miles from the capital, the location of choice?What do Ugandans have to do to rid themselves of this menace?If Uganda’s police and other domestic law-enforcement agents are inept, is there an obligation for the international community to become involved in the solution?

Some might consider this inappropriate, however, one needs to contextualize what is going on in the East and Central Africa region before dismissing this as Uganda’s problem, because it is not, and here is why.If people paid attention to what is going on in Uganda, they will undoubtedly conclude that the ground is fertile for more serious upheaval and we are getting there at an increasingly alarming rate.

The types of crimes being committed, the individuals involved in committing them, and the reasons why they are being committed, tend to suggest that what we see is not your run-of-the-mill crimes.Furthermore, the international community does have an obligation that extends beyond borders especially when the threat is real.

Moreover, when a government proves incapable of protecting its own citizens, what options do those citizens have? It is important to note that when human beings feel helpless or believe to be helpless, they almost always will attempt to take the law into their own hands.

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide criminalized certain acts committed with the intent to destroy ethnic, national, racial, or religious groups. States are obliged to take “all means reasonably available to them, so as to prevent genocide so far as possible.”

This obligation exists regardless of whether the state’s efforts to influence the perpetrators changes the outcome.I believe that the time has come for states to undertake to stop the commission of future crimes which, in this case, is the only means of protecting, as a matter of course and political necessity, groups of Ugandans routinely victimized.

I have consistently asked why clerics and Gen. Museveni find it appropriate and necessary to pray for “peace” and “peaceful elections,” prayer routines in our daily lives notwithstanding. Are they trying to tell the rest of Ugandans and the world something? What do they know and when did they know it?

 

The writer is a trial lawyer working in the United States of America.

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