Uganda: When A Nation Is Ruled By An Outlaw A Citizen Is Tortured For Writing Books

armed with machine guns and and accompanied by snipers
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Gen. Museveni, exhausted, after 34 years in power. Photo: Facebook 

[My Free Thoughts]

Twice—once in April and most recently September—Ugandan dictator Gen. Yoweri Museveni’s military, armed with machine guns and and accompanied by snipers besieged my home and violently arrested me from my bed. Yet, spokespersons of the “security” institutions have vehemently denied having a hand in my arrest when approached by journalists for comment. 

The Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) director, the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) spokeswoman, Uganda Police Force (UPF) spokesperson, and the criminal investigations department spokesperson, have all been approached by journalists with questions about why I was illegally arrested and tortured for writing a novel “The Greedy Barbarian” about a corrupt African dictator. All feigned to have no knowledge of my whereabouts, when contacted by media. 

During my arrests I was tortured and feared I would die and never see my wife and children again. The torture including hanging me with chains in the toilet and on the rails of stairs. I was waterboarded. I was kicked and punched until I lost consciousness. The interrogations centered on “The Greedy Barbarian,” my book of political fiction that mirrors African gerontocratic, kleptocratic and murderous regimes. The second arrest was for “Banana Republic, Where Writing Is Treasonous”—a narration of the excruciating torture I suffered for writing “The Greedy Barbarian.” 

Why would high ranking officers at the helm of these Ugandan taxpayers-funded institutions refuse to provide any communication or comment to media after anyone who is perceived to be critical of Gen. Museveni and his family is arrested? The gunmen have CMI identity cards and come in full combat of of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces. The torture are conducted in CMI facilities. Does Gen. Museveni, Uganda’s ruler of 34 years use a clique of thugs inside these institutions who are accountable to no one? 

During the second arrest, on September 18, when I was forced from my bed at 6AM, I’d asked why I was being arrested after a court had already dealt with the bogus charges against me after my April arrest. The ringleader, a rotund man of about 40, with dark complexion, wearing a brimmed hat—in case anyone knows him—claimed I knew very well that I had “unfinished business” with State House, the presidential residence. What kind of “business” was it that compelled State House to send State hoodlums 75 miles from the city, to place my legs in shackles and handcuff me in front of my children and wife? It turns out it was for the second book.

What kind of person gives orders to thugs to invade my home with impunity to arrest me as though I had stolen the president’s kidney? When I was tortured after the second arrest, I was told that I can actually criticize the government so long as I left the president out of it. How is it possible to criticize the government without mentioning Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Kaguta Museveni? He is the leader who is responsible for the government. Constitutionally, he is both the head of state and head of government, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The same armed forces that have unleashed a rolling avalanche of violence against citizens for more than three decades. 

The constitution,  promulgated in 1995 enshrines that he is executive president and all powers are vested in him—on the other hand, Article 99 states that the executive authority of the President be exercised in accordance with the Constitution and the laws of Uganda. 

Yet we have a president who ignores the laws of the land. You now know what happens to the citizens—I have first hand experience thanks to CMI—when our ruler is an outlaw.

The columnist can be reached at [email protected] 

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