Bobi Wine, A Ugandan Leader, Brutally Arrested Again by Dictator Museveni Before Boarding Plane for treatment Abroad

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Uganda's U.S.-backed dictator of 33 years Gen. Yoweri Museveni.

Bobi Wine, the enormously popular Ugandan musician and Parliamentarian was violently arrested at Entebbe Airport at around 9pm East Africa time on Thursday. He was about to board a flight to the US, where he was to undergo treatment for injuries suffered as a result of torture at the hands of security forces earlier in August.

As police in riot gear dragged Wine out of the airport and into a waiting police ambulance, the obviously terrified lawmaker can be heard on a viral Facebook video screaming his wife Barbie's name.

The reason for the arrest is unclear. Wine, along with four other MPs and dozens of others were arrested on August 13, having been accused of inciting violence at the conclusion of a local by election campaign in Arua, a town in northern Uganda. They were held incommunicado for days, after which several of them, including Wine, emerged with severe injuries. Although Wine and the others have been charged with treason, the judge had placed no travel restrictions on them, presumably because it was obvious that many of them needed medical care not available in Uganda. The order to prevent Wine from traveling almost certainly came from President Museveni himself, whose brutal nearly 33 year reign has been characterized by massive corruption, the torture and probable killing of dissidents and opposition politicians and deadly military operations in neighboring countries.

Wine, along with Francis Zaake, another of the tortured MPs--who was also blocked from traveling abroad for medical care earlier in the day—are now at Kiruddu, a government hospital in Kampala where they are reportedly under armed guard. There, Barbie was able to visit her husband, who told her that as soon as the doors of the police ambulance closed, the operatives began beating him again.

According to Asuman Basilirwa, a lawyer for both men, Zaake, who is unable to walk or even sit up, and has been intermittently on life support since being tortured, is suffering from episodic amnesia, presumably as a result of head trauma. Wine, as of the morning before his beating in the ambulance, was suffering from a severely damaged kidney, walks on crutches with great difficulty and also has liver damage. He claims that while in police custody, he was injected with something, but he doesn't know whether it was medicine or a toxin or something else.

The police crackdown is spreading across the country. A women's prayer service at a church in Ntinda, a Kampala suburb, was stormed by police on Wednesday. At the service, Jane Abiola described how police commander Jonathan Musinguzi personally beat her, damaging her hip so that she now walks with a limp and a cane. At one point he even held a gun to her head insisting she reveal Wine's whereabouts, which she says she didn't know.

The situation will almost certainly escalate. Overnight, crowds of Wine's angry supporters are reportedly gathering outside the hospital, and further violence could follow. If so, it's not clear how the international community will respond. Uganda has received $300 million in military assistance from the US alone since 2012, and partners with the Pentagon in Somalia and Iraq and with France on the Congo border and may soon join Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

This probably explains the kid gloves tone of the international reaction. The High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called on Uganda to investigate its own security forces over the torture of the Arua detainees; the US and EU have both issued mild statements urging Uganda to respect the rights of its citizens. Museveni has brushed off such wrist slapping before, and can be expected to do so again.

In an interview with the BBC last week, Wine’s brother Eddie Yawe said the lawmaker had told him, ‘Brother can I tell you something? My body is weak but my heart is the strongest. We are calling upon the international community because Uganda does not live on an island. Why are you leaving Uganda alone? Why are you leaving us to die?’”

Editor's Note: Please sign Petition calling for ICC indictment of Museveni. Let's keep building Momentum

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