Diaspora Ugandans Protest Visit by Otafire, Dictator Museveni's Right Hand Man

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Today members of Ugandan Diaspora for Democracy and Accountability (UDDA) held the first of its monthly protests against the 32-year-old dictatorship of Gen. Yoweri Museveni. Today's protest was an event in New York City where the regime minister of justice Gen. Kahinda Otafire was one of the speakers.

To counter Gen. Otafire's lies that Member of Parliament Bobi Wine was never tortured --He said why would Bobi Wine return to Uganda if he was tortured. He also said Uganda doesn't rig elections and that's why he lost his Parliamentary seat-- UDDA distributed the following information flyer to all invited guests. I also personally handed two copies to Gen. Otafire as I walked with him to his car after the event--a photo posted on my Facebook page shows Otafire shaking hands with one of the demonstrators today. One person who heard Otafire speak today said, "He's a very charming liar."

Here is the flyer UDDA handed out:

Ugandan Diaspora for Democracy and Accountability (UDDA)

P.O. Box 1472, New York, N.Y., 10274 UDDA@gmail.com 

November 9, 2018

We the members of the Ugandan Diaspora in the United States, and American friends of Uganda, protest in the strongest terms the presence of Gen. Kahinda Otafire the Ugandan Minister of Justice as a speaker at the "7th Annual Gershowitz Conference on Media and Governance."  Gen. Otafire is a senior cabinet official in a brutal, lawless, and illegitimate dictatorship that has now been in power for 32 years through multiple rigged elections.

The organizers of this conference should be ashamed of having invited Gen. Otafire. The gross human rights abuses under the dictatorship of Gen. Yoweri Museveni, with Otafire as Minister of Justice, are well-known and well-documented. 

Of course, Gen. Otafire would welcome inclusion in such a conference. He needs prestigious events, especially in the United States, to whitewash the serious crimes committed by the Ugandan regime. The question that awaits an answer is what could be the possible motive of the organizers of this conference to invite Gen. Otafire? He is one of Gen. Museveni's right hand men.

The participation of Gen. Otafire damages the reputation of this and future Gershowitz Conferences. The theme of the 2017 conference is: What's Truth?  Well here are a few facts that the organizers of this conference must know or should have known prior to inviting Gen. Otafire:

1. In August the European Union (EU) Parliament condemned the Ugandan regime for the brutal August 13 beating and torture by the Special Forces Command (SFC) of the Ugandan Armed Forces of several members of Parliament including Robert Kyagulanyi, a.k.a Bobi Wine, Francis Zaake and dozens of their supporters in the city of Arua during an election for an open Parliamentary seat won by the opposition. Both Bobi Wine and Zaake received medical treatment abroad. Bobi Wine's driver Yasin Kawuma was assassinated. The bullets were believed to have been intended for Bobi Wine. Major media including The New York Times covered their ordeal.

The EU in a statement threatened that henceforth development assistance to the Museveni/Otafire regime could be withheld if: an independent investigation of the Arua atrocities was not conducted; there was no commitment to human rights and the rule of law; freedom of expression and of assembly continued to be denied; and, democratic principles enshrined in Uganda's constitution continued to be violated. The EU in 2016 had concluded the 2016 Presidential election --which Museveni rigged-- was neither free nor fair. 

2. Uganda has a Stalinist-type law called the Public Order Management. It dictates that for any public gathering of more than two people the individuals involved must notify the Police Force. The law is meant to intimidate and cow the populace and crush dissent. For years, opposition party gatherings have been brutally disrupted and the leaders beaten or arrested as a result of this law.

3. Following the lead of the EU Parliamentarians, on September 18, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators issued a statement condemning the Arua atrocities against the Ugandan Members of Parliament and their supporters and called for an investigation. The senators are: Chris Coons (D-Del.); Cory Booker (D-N.J.); Ben Cardin (D-Md.); Marco Rubio (R-Fla.); and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). The Senators in part said:  “We call upon the Ugandan authorities to conduct a credible investigation into the murder of Yasin Kawuma, and into the reports of beatings, torture, and the use of lethal force on civilians by security forces during the Arua Municipality by-election campaign and subsequent protests, and to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.  It is critical to Uganda’s democracy that Parliament is respected as an independent institution of the government, and that Members of Parliament can execute their mandate without threat or interference.  We strongly urge President Museveni and the Ugandan Government to adhere to the rule of law, and respect freedom of expression, press, and assembly granted by the country’s constitution. As Bobi Wine and Francis Zaake return to Uganda after medical treatment, we will closely monitor their situation, and that of those who face charges alongside them.”  

4. The Museveni/Otafire regime has defied calls by both the EU Parliamentarians and the five U.S. Senators to drop the trumped up treason charges against the Ugandan Members of Parliament and their 32 supporters. Treason in Uganda carries the death penalty.  5. In September 2017 the Museveni/Otafire regime bribed and coerced Ugandan Members of Parliament into lifting the age-75 ceiling on Presidential candidates from the constitution paving the way for him to rig another election. By the date of the next Presidential vote in 2021 he would be 77 years old and ineligible to run. The Economist magazine reported that Gen. Museveni bribed some MPs over $8,000 each, which is a substantial sum in a country whose per capita income is about $1,820 according to the World Bank.  

MPs who rejected the bribe or filibustered the bill before it was passed in Parliament were physically assaulted when Gen. Museveni sent his security forces --dressed in business suits in order to mislead the international community into believing they were all MPs involved in a brawl-- on the floors of Parliament to assault lawmakers who defied Museveni. One female MP, Ms. Betty Nambooze, was taken into an isolated room in Parliament where security agents used a torture technique, by applying pressure on her back, damaging her spine and causing permanent injury. As a result Ms. Nambooze is confined to a wheelchair, she experiences excruciating pain, and she has not been able to return to Parliament.

Instead of apologizing for the criminal assault, or taking care of her medical bills, the Museveni regime has on several occasions blocked Ms. Nambooze's  trips abroad for medical treatment. The regime is also prosecuting her on trumped up charges of posting threatening information on her Facebook page.

6. Even after the widespread condemnation of the Museveni/Otafire regime by the international community following the Arua atrocities, attacks against Ugandan civilians perceived to be critical to the dictatorship continues. On October 18, in an incident reminiscent of the Idi Amin era, Yusuf Kawooya, a regional leader of the opposition Democratic Party (DP), one of the country's oldest parties, was brutally assaulted by security forces with rifle butts on a major street in Kampala, the capital. The attack occurred in broad daylight before the public before Kawooya was thrown into a vehicle where the beatings continued as he was whisked away. Here is a link to a video recording of the assault available on YouTube.  

7. The Museveni/Otafire regime has rejected calls including by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to investigate the massacre of more than 100 people including women and 15 children in November 2016 when units of the Uganda People's Defense Forces (UPDF), the national army, attacked the palace of one of the country's traditional king's Wesley Mumbere of the Rwenzururu because his subjects did not support Museveni in the 2016 election. Gen. Museveni in an interview on Al Jazeera boasted that he ordered the attack.  

King Mumbere remains detained without trial. Museveni also promoted the commander who led the assault Gen. Peter Elwelu. This is only one of several massacres that have never been investigated under the Museveni/Otafire dictatorship. Here is a link detailing the atrocities in a report prepared by Human Rights Watch.  

8. Human rights abuses and militaristic terror under the Museveni/Otafire regime have sowed death, destruction, and misery to neighboring countries as well. On October 1, 1990, Uganda's armed forces invaded Rwanda and ignited a war that exacerbated ethnic tensions between Hutus and Tutsis. The war lasted for four years and culminated in the 1994 genocide after the plane carrying the president of Rwanda Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundi's Cyprien Ntayamire was shot down killing both leaders. 

9. In December 2013, rather than mediate a dispute between President Salva Kiir of South Sudan and his Vice President Riek Machar, Gen. Museveni ordered an invasion of South Sudan in support of Kiir. According to Human Rights Watch the Ugandan military even used cluster bombs; this is a weapon banned under international law.  As a result of Museveni's siding with kiir, numerous attempts by IGAD, a regional body of East and Central African countries, to resolve the conflict was frustrated for years. Museveni then cynically sought credit for having hosted a record number of refugees from South Sudan when in fact his 2013 invasion, which escalated the war, was the primary reason why the refugees fled to Uganda in the first place. There have been numerous reports that the Museveni/Otafire regime officials have embezzled funds from international doctors meant for the refugees.

10. The Museveni/Otafire regime launched numerous invasions into the Congo, beginning in 1997, primarily for resource plunder. As a result of the numerous invasions, and Uganda's support of brutal militias such as M23, multiple conflicts continue up to day in the Congo and an estimated more than 6 million Congolese have perished in the conflicts. In 2005 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found Uganda liable for war crimes in the Congo as a result of its war of aggression and awarded Congo $10 billion not a dime of which has been paid. Gen. Otafire knows the details of the case since he was tasked with dealing with the reparations ruling. 

These are a summary of the many criminal acts carried out by the regime of Gens. Museveni/Otafire regime. Gen. Otafire, the Minister of Justice of this lawless regime, has never denounced any of the criminal acts outlined above. Feel free to conduct your own research into the atrocities highlighted. 

By providing a platform for Otafire to whitewash regime atrocities, Gershowitz Conference on Media and Governance cannot be absolved of aiding and abetting the regime's numerous atrocities.

We sincerely believe that the organizers owe an apology to the people of Uganda who are victims of 32 years of tyranny by the Museveni/Otafire regime.

CONTACT: UDDA@gmail.com 

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