U.S. Calls On Uganda Regime To Stop Harassing Novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija

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Ugandan author and Black Star News columnist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija. Photo: Facebook.   

The U.S. State Department has called on the Ugandan government to stop harassing a leading novelist, Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, who was arrested by the regime Tuesday.

Rukirabashaija is a PEN International honoree and Black Star News columnist. He’s been arrested on at least four occasions in the past year and he was previously severely tortured by the regime’s intelligence agents of the dreaded Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI), whose commander Gen. Abel Kandiho was sanctioned on Dec. 7 by the U.S. Treasury Department. 

Kandiho reports directly to Gen. Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s dictator of the last 35 years. 

Rukirabashaija, the author of “Greedy Barbarian,” a satirical novel about an African dictator, was reportedly dragged from his home by armed men who were not wearing uniforms and who broke into his house on Tuesday and whisked away. 

"We are aware of reports on the December 28 arrest of Ugandan writer Kakwenza Rukirabashaija. Civil society organizations, human rights defenders, political party representatives, writers, and journalists all play critical roles in a democratic society and should be permitted to carry out their responsibilities free of harassment,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson said, in a statement to Black Star News. “We are seeking additional information regarding this arrest and will continue to monitor developments.”  

Rukirabashaija was named the 2021 International Writer of Courage.

In a serialization of his book “Banana Republic, Where Writing Is Treason” in Black Star News—a book he wrote after he was arrested and tortured for writing “Greedy Barbarian”— Rukirabashaija described some of the torture he endured at the hands of CMI. 

The whole experience was already despicable and terrifying because whenever your body shook, however little, or if you showed that you were tired or needed a rest, the standby officers would hit you with batons and clubs. Some of the sweat had been dripping from my temples and dropping on to the clean tiles. One officer kicked me in the back and instructed me to lick the sweat off the tiles. No sooner had I licked once than another officer came and unchained my legs and instructed me to follow him….Now he walked into the small cell, grabbed me by the ears and thrust my head it into the toilet bowl. My mouth almost kissed the mound of unflushed constipated shit that had been floating on the water inside the bowl. I was losing my mind. The pain was humongous and my mouth was the taste of raw blood. The officers instructed me to remove my pants and T-shirt and use them to clean the floor as it had been stained with sweat and drops of blood.”

He also wrote: “In Africa, when you write fiction, especially political fiction, such as the political allegory Animal Farm by George Orwell, the leaders will always think that one is writing about them. Of course, every dictator will suspect that the writer meant to embarrass him…I had given up on life when the excruciating pain became unbearable. I couldn’t even speak, so couldn’t call out for help. My whole body had become numb… I asked God to forgive me all the sins I had committed and to welcome me into his kingdom. It was around midnight that I passed out. The cold, excruciating pain, desperation and misery were all forgotten…When I gained consciousness in the morning, I was lying in the corridor, prostrate but still chained….My body became numb as if I had suffered a stroke. They commanded me to lie prostrate and the only sensitive parts of my body were the stomach, eyes, ears and mouth. The rest of the body felt like something dead. The last question I heard was the demand for a copy of the novel and a laptop charger. “

The Museveni regime receives about $1 billion in U.S. taxpayers’ annual financial and military support. But after Gen. Museveni stole the Jan. 14, 2021 presidential election from main challenger Robert Kyagulanyi, a.k.a. Bobi Wine, the U.S. in a statement rejected the outcome, saying the election was “neither free, nor fair” and placed targeted sanctions against Ugandan officials whose names remain sealed.    



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