Editorial: Help Save Betty, Pro-democracy Leader, from Clutches of Museveni, Uganda's Evil U.S.-backed Dictator

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Betty in anguish.

[Editorial]

Ugandans and friends of Uganda are very concerned about the continuous arrests, torture and intimidation of opposition Members of Parliament and activists in particular the regime's campaign against pro-democracy lawmaker Betty Nambooze. Under the country's dictator of 32-years Gen. Yoweri Museveni the regime's military is trained and armed by the United States. Washington also provides dictator Museveni with $1 billion annually.

Yet, the U.S. Ambassador to Uganda has not uttered a word against the most recent and on-going campaign against Member of Parliament Ms. Nambooze. The United States, which trains and arms Gen. Museveni's security forces has an obligation under U.S. laws, including the Leahy Amendment, to cut off aid to Uganda's security forces. The U.S., which provides the bulk of financing to the Museveni regime must also demand the unconditional release of Ms. Nambooze so that she can be allowed to travel for treatment for her back, broken by regime security agents last September. That injury was recently aggravated by Museveni's security agents.

Last September, MP Nambooze was crippled by Museveni's elite guards while attempting to filibuster a bill that would scrap the presidential age limit from the Constitution, enabling dictator Museveni to rule for life. In November, Nambooze flew to India where she underwent a six-hour operation in which metal struts were implanted in her spine so she could walk again. She returned to Uganda late last year, but recently she has been experiencing a lot of pain and had planned to return to India for more treatment June 15th, 2018.

On June 13th, she was arrested on charges of "offensive communication," which are almost certainly spurious. She paid bail, and was released, but 24 hours later she she was rearrested, in violation of the Ugandan Constitution. While being transported around in police vehicles, she was roughed up by some of the officers and her back worsened. After spending two days in jail, in intense agony, Nambooze was taken to a hospital; during the transfer, a police vehicle rammed the ambulance, further damaging her spine. Doctors found that one of the metal screws in her back has been dislodged and is protruding and pressing on a major nerve. Nambooze is a true national hero and champion of democracy in Uganda.

She has been a brave fighter against corruption, human rights abuse, and the rampant landgrabbing by the regime's political and military elite which is increasing the impoverishment of rural peasants all over the country. Nambooze is being politically targeted. On June 8, 2018, a ruling party MP named Ibrahim Abiriga was gunned down by masked gunmen on motorcycles in Kampala. Such murders are increasingly frequent in Uganda; a senior police commander Andrew Kaweesi and a senior state prosecutor and many others have been killed in this way in recent years.

Many Ugandans suspect the regime of being behind the killings. MP Abiriga had been among those supporting the age limit removal. When Nambooze and other MPs were attempting to filibuster the age limit amendment she denounced Abiriga for his loyalty to Museveni as did many Ugandans. A poll at the time showed that 85% of the public opposed the age limit removal. Yet, inexplicably, Gen. Museveni's regime has charged Nambooze with--inciting violence against Abiriga. This is a diversion as the public demand to know who are really behind these killings in Uganda. Nambooze is being persecuted because she is an immensely popular while Gen. Museveni is aware of how unpopular he himself is. During protests in Arua, Abiriga's hometown, demonstrators demanded that he not attend the funeral. 

By jeopardizing Nambooze's health and her life, the regime hopes to cow other pro-democracy activists. 

We urge the American public to take action to put an end to the funding of a ruthless dictator with U.S. taxpayers' money.

1) Call your Member of the House of Representatives and Senator at (202) 224-3121 and Demand that Congress issue a statement condemning the abuses and intimidation of opposition Members of Parliament and activists in Uganda.

2) Call the White House at (202) 456-1414 and Demand that President Trump cut off support to the Gen. Museveni regime. In his National Security Strategy paper in December 2017 Trump vowed to sanction African regimes that abuse their citizens and that are corrupt.

3) Call the U.S. State Department at (202) 647-4000 and Demand that Secretary Pompeo condemn dictator Museveni's attacks on the Ugandan opposition and pro-democracy activists.

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