U.S.-backed Ugandan Dictator Gen. Museveni Unleashes Brutal Military Attack on College Students Protesting Tuition Hike

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Photo of Siperia Mollie Sasiraabo as it appears in The Daily Monitor: By Damali Mukhaye 
 
[Commentary] 
 
In Museveni's Uganda where youth unemployment is at over 80% the young still yearn for education--they see it as their passport to a better future. They are so desperate that some women have reportedly turned to prostitution in order to help pay for their tuition fees.
 
So when Makerere University, still considered one of the best in Africa, announced plans for a 15% tuition hike, one student said enough is enough. This past Tuesday, she organized a protest against the fees increase. As a result of her courageous action Siperia Mollie Sasiraabo a third year psychology major now lies drifting in and out of consciousness in a hospital in Kampala, the Ugandan capital. She's the victim of an assault, it's believed, by Ugandan military dictator Gen. Yoweri Museveni's security agents.
 
Meanwhile this week soldiers and police, in actions reminiscent of the Idi Amin's dictatorship in Uganda, raided the Makerere university campuses and unleashed brutal beatings against other students who are suspected of having supported the protest against the tuition hike. How can attacking unarmed civilians be a sign of bravery by soldiers?  
 
There are videos posted on social media showing soldiers with weapons, hovering over about a dozen young men who have been forced to strip naked and are then ordered to roll on the ground. This humiliating form of torture has become common during Museveni's depraved dictatorship which has now lasted for 33 years in Uganda. A report in Uganda's leading private newspaper, The Daily Monitor, says at least 60 students have been arrested and 10 were admitted to the university hospital as a result after the assaults. The newspaper also published photographs showing some of the wounds sustained by the students.
 
Not a word against these brutal attacks on students has come from the U.S. embassy in Uganda or the State Department. This is because Gen. Museveni has been a reliable U.S. agent and puppet for over three decades. He deploys Ugandan troops in trouble spots like Somalia, a country the U.S. fears could fall to radical Islamists, or he periodically invades the resource-rich eastern part of Congo where Western corporations and Museveni's family plunder the country's minerals. 
 
Why such a horrific attack on the Makerere students? 
 
Museveni is now unpopular in all parts of Uganda. His former ally Dr. Kizza Besigye parted ways with him decades ago and has been a courageous opposition leader. He is widely believed to have won the last three presidential elections. Museveni personally appoints the Electoral Commission which announces the results of the vote so he always declares himself the winner. Dr. Besigye has roundly condemned the attacks on the Makerere students.
 
Meanwhile over the past three years a new and powerful force has emerged in Uganda called People Power. This Movement captures the aspirations of the youth--who make up more than 80% of the population--and it has coalesced around Member of Parliament Robert Kyagulanyi, a.k.a. Bobi Wine. 
 
Bobi Wine campaigned for at least three Parliamentary candidates who've decisively defeated candidates of the military dictator's own National Resistance Movement (NRM). After an opposition candidate supported by Bobi Wine won against Museveni's candidate in the city of Arua last year, the dictator panicked and unleashed his army. Bobi Wine and other Members of Parliament, as well as their supporters, were beaten, arrested and tortured. The assaults were so vicious--Bobi Wine's friend and driver Yasin Kawuma was shot dead--that even the U.S. and U.K. governments, both reliable regime sponsors, condemned Museveni. Several U.S. senators and Members of Congress denounced the attack. Tens of thousands of people protested around Uganda and the dictator was forced to release the Members of Parliament. The People Power movement adopted the color red, symbolized by their T-shirts and berets, as their signature. The cowardly dictator has since banned the wearing of red berets by civilians in Uganda.
 
Uganda is heading into election season as the 2021 vote looms. Gen. Museveni is laying the groundwork for another vote theft. The attacks against the students are early warnings meant to instill fear in the general populace. Museveni knows that students will support candidates representing the People Power movement. Bobi Wine himself has also declared his candidacy. He's been urging the youth to obtain national identification cards in order to vote.
 
With the combined powers of the People Power movement, Dr. Besigye's Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), and two other parties--retired Gen. Mugisha Muntu's Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) and Norbert Mao's Democratic Party--Museveni's ability to steal the 2021 vote is compromised. If Museveni does steal the election the consequences could be dire. Judging by the national nature of the protests following the Arua atrocities, Uganda has reached the stage a popular uprising could drive out the dictator just as occurred in Sudan, bringing an end to Omar Bashir's long reign.
 
At some point all Western stooges become expendable to their masters. This happens when the consequences of maintaining them outweighs the benefits. That was certainly the case with Gen. Jean Bedel Bokassa in the Central African Republic and Mobutu Sese Seko in Congo. Today Museveni is of no special use to the U.S. and the U.K. There are troops from other African countries, including Kenya, now also deployed in Somalia. Congo has a new elected government and it's politically more difficult for Western companies to plunder the country's wealth via Uganda. Museveni can't even leverage Uganda's untapped oil as bait. A major corruption scandal involving payments of $1 million in bribes by a Chinese company to Museveni and his foreign minister Sam Kutesa, was aired out in detail in a U.S. federal trial, with photos of the dictator and his minister displayed in the courtroom. He's become toxic to serious investors. His former police chief Gen. Kale Kayihura was recently sanctioned by the U.S., which was sending a message to Kayihura's boss the dictator himself. 
 
This is a good time for the U.S. and U.K. to start planning beyond their relationship with Uganda in a post-Museveni environment. They must both start by condemning the attacks on innocent Makerere University students. They must go even further and stop supplying the military dictator with the weapons he uses to brutalize Ugandans.
 
 
Please sign a Petition calling on the U.S. and U.K. to suspend weapons shipments to Gen. Museveni's regime. Please support a Gofundme campaign to assists student leader Siperia Mollie Sasiraabo with her treatment and recovery.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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