Uganda’s Bobi Wine arrested Leading Protest against State Abductions and Killings of Civilians

Idi Amin deja vu?
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The military deploys in Kampala. Photo: Twitter

Uganda’s leading opposition challenger and the presumptive winner of the presidential election Robert Kyagulanyi, a.k.a. Bobi Wine was arrested today for leading a protest against the ongoing terror campaign of kidnappings, torture and killings by the country’s militaristic regime of Gen. Yoweri Museveni.

Bobi Wine was arrested near city square in Kampala, the capital. The peaceful marchers demanded the release of hundreds of missing associates and supporters of his party, the National Unity Platform (NUP). Party supporters have been kidnapped since October last year and held in unknown places. The abductions, by security forces—sometimes in uniform, often in civilian clothes—have escalated since after the Jan. 14 fraudulent election.

Scores of Bobi Wine’s supporters have been murdered and dumped in the swamps across the country and others are being tortured in various torture chambers in the central region of Uganda, especially Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono where different torture chambers are located. (The author has been arrested and tortured on two occasions, for writing books that Museveni didn’t like, prompting the intervention of the U.S. State Department and Pen International).

Human Rights Watch has condemned the kidnappings.

Yesterday during a national address, Bobi Wine asked his supporters to demonstrate peacefully against the oppression. “We are tired, hungry, angry and oppressed but we still have brains and are nonviolent. We chose not to use nonviolence and we are innocent. They cannot outnumber us if we demonstrate peacefully,” he said.

Bobi Wine and other members of parliament, and supporters, held placards that read “Bring Back Our People,” and headed toward the city square where armed policemen and the army intercepted the procession and started arresting people. The crowd which had gathered around Bobi Wine was tear-gassed and shot at with live ammunition. People scattered in all directions. 

The police and armed forces are notorious for brutality. In November, when more than 100 people were massacred for protesting after the arrest of Bobi Wine, the country’s minister for security Gen. Elly Tumwine endorsed a shoot to kill policy. During the election campaigns, the police commander Martin Okoth Ochola said journalists were being beaten for their own good. The deputy Inspector General of Police also warned any protesters to come with their own coffins.

Facing growing consensus that he stole the Jan. 14 election the dictator of 35 years Gen. Museveni in a bizarre address to the nation yesterday claimed it was Bobi Wine, who cheated.

The dictator depends on Western financing for his survival, including U.S. training and arming for his army. By even the U.S. was so appalled by the violence and election rigging that the State Department called the vote “fundamentally flawed.” The European Union (EU) also condemned the violence and vote tallying by the Electoral Commission, all of whose members are appointed by Museveni himself. The EU Parliament has recommended sanctions and the U.S. is also considering its own measures. The Museveni regime gets more than $2 billion combined annually from the U.S. and EU. 

Meanwhile Ugandans in the U.S. diaspora on Friday demonstrated in front of the White House, the World Bank, the IMF and the State Department, calling for an end to financial backing for the militaristic regime. They also denounced the abductions and killings.

On Jan. 16 Museveni’s hand-picked Election Commission announced that he won with 58% of the votes cast to Bobi Wine’s 35%.

However Gen. Museveni had turned off the internet on Jan. 12, two days before the election. This means data could not be transmitted from the polling stations to the tallying center and that’s why Ugandans believe the vote percentages attributed to Museveni and Bobi Wine were simply made up by his stooges in the Electoral “Commission.” The private uvote app developed by Ugandans in diaspora tallied votes from polling stations and showed that Bobi Wine won by 54%.

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