President Obama: Please Support Ugandan Women's Pro-Democracy Activists

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You have a lovely wife and two beautiful daughters. The women struggling for dignity, justice, and democracy in Uganda are also someone’s daughter, sister and aunt.
Many of these pro-democracy activists were inspired by your words when you visited Ghana, in 2009, and declared that the days of the dictators must end in Africa.


[Open Letter: London Bridge Is Falling Down] 
 
 

Dear President Barack Obama, 
 
I
write following the recent arrest of my sister Ms. Barbara Allimadi
along with other women pro-democracy activists in Kampala, Uganda.

Ms.
Allimadi was protesting a recent sexual assault by police Ms. Ingrid
Turinawe, another Ugandan pro democracy activist, during a most violent
arrest. Ms. Turinawe's right breast was grabbed several times and
squeezed and pulled by a police officer with such force that she
screamed "leave my breasts alone." She reported that once dragged into a
police van officers punched her breasts repeatedly. She reported
bleeding from the right breast afterwards.

The act outraged all
decent peoples the world over and indeed was publicly condemned by the
United States Department of State. There has to date been no public
condemnation of this barbaric attack on a woman from Uganda’s first
lady, Janet Museveni or even the President, Yoweri K. Museveni.

Instead the government justifies  the attack.

This
is only one of many examples of atrocious attacks against pro-democracy
activists in Uganda. How can the United States of America continue to
support a regime with such appalling human rights record and police
brutality against innocent citizens?

Mr. President, why has there
been no demand for the immediate arrest and charge of the offending
officer? Since the U.S. is one of the biggest financial and military
supporters of the Ugandan government, the authorities pay attention to
what the U.S. says more so than what Ugandans say.

Ugandan women
regularly suffer physical and sexual assaults during arrests and one can
only begin to wonder and worry about what these officers do to their
prisoners in the privacy of police cells. The world knows about Ms.
Turinawe’s assault because it was caught on camera. The world will never
know about the many assaulted women because they live in a culture of
fear and intimidation and will therefore choose to suffer in silence
which clearly emboldens these so-called officers who act with impunity.

Who
should take responsibility for the actions of these police officers in
Uganda if not the Inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura? Had
such a sexual assault occurred in the United States of America or
England and Wales, the offending police officer and the Head of Police
would have been sacked or there would have been demand for their
immediate resignation.  

Is the dignity of Ugandan women of less
value? Have they no right to the protection of their bodies? Is one of
the mandates of the Ugandan Police Force not to serve and protect? Yet,
it is this very police force shamelessly operating with a misogynistic
mind set.

Uganda's Deputy police chief Andrew Kaweesa has
apologized, saying the incident will be investigated.  What is there to
investigate when the act was caught on camera and broadcast world wide?

Since
Ms. Allimadi’s bra-exposed protest  outside the Central Police Station
in Kampala to focus attention on the sexual assault on Ms. Turinawe and her demand that the Inspector General of Police must
resign, Ms. Allimadi has been targeted for harassment by police officers
and other security operatives.  On Wednesday May 2, whilst walking in
Kampala she was surrounded by 8 police officers and marched to the
police station on the orders of the Deputy Police Chief, stating that
they had been acting on intelligence that she was going to occupy
Uganda's constitutional square, a public open space in the city.

Ms.
Allimadi has confided that during a recent security meeting in April, a
plot to arrest and imprison her in one of the many safe houses in
Uganda where people are routinely tortured had been hatched. Mr.
President, I urge you to put your ally, President Museveni, on notice
that the U.S., which backs his government, will hold it responsible for
the safety and welfare of pro-democracy activists.

Ms. Allimadi is
passionate about women’s rights and indeed the rights of all Ugandans.
She has visited maternity wards, where countless women die needlessly
during child birth due to a deteriorating health care system. Yet
president Yoweri Museveni’s own daughter was flown in the presidential
jet, using taxpayers' money, to Germany to give birth in comfort with
the very best of care. Ms. Allimadi has visited prisons in Kampala,
taking with her basic necessities for prisoners held without trial. She
has visited hospitals donating food when outraged that the kitchens had
been closed because there was no food to cook for patients.

She has
held seminars on job-creation with university students, imparting her
extensive knowledge acquired whilst running a business in London,
England, several years ago. All these practical initiatives are funded
with her own resources and donations from individuals and non-profit organizations that want to see a better Uganda for all. 

When interviewed May 2 on the Voice of America's
"Straight Talk Africa" she declared that women are part of the solution
to the problems in Uganda.  She urged Washington and London to rethink
their open check support for Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni if they claim to
respect Human Rights and Democracy. She said: "When I say we don’t have
drugs in our hospitals, is it a lie? When I say citizens are being
tortured by the police and other security operatives, is it a lie? When I
say youth unemployment is at 83%, is it a lie?"

I now appeal to you Mr. President to intervene by, at the very least, asking for  accountable for his U.S.-supported government's well-documented atrocities. Mr.
President you have a lovely wife and two beautiful daughters. The women
struggling for dignity, justice, and democracy in Uganda are also
someone’s daughter, sister and aunt. 
Many of these pro-democracy
activists were inspired by your words when you visited Ghana, in 2009,
and declared that the days of the dictators must end in Africa.

Last
week the U.S. took a firm position in supporting Chinese activist Chen
Guangcheng. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rejected China's protest
that this amounted to meddling. She insisted that China must defend the
human rights of all its citizens. Mr. Chen will soon be heading to study
in the U.S. 

Uganda's pro-democracy activists, including Ms. Ingrid
Turinawe who was violently attacked, and my sister Barbara Allimadi,
who was arrested for protesting the assault, also  deserve similar
concern and protection.



"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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