Uganda at the door of no return
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
In view of experience we could add,
They came for the Banyarwanda, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Munyarwanda.
Then they came for me—but there was no one left to speak for me.
Martin Niemöller’s poem, written in the aftermath of the Holocaust against the Jews, seems to resonate in today’s Uganda.
As I write a young man lies somewhere in a morgue with no suggestion whatsoever that he will get justice; nor will he get a dignified mourning. Shots were fired at him in Arua. He was only doing his job, a driver.
A young man, his boss, is being held incommunicado in a military facility in “urgent need of medical attention,” according to Gen. Mugisha Muntu, who said Hon Kyagulanyi Sentamu, ‘Bobi Wine’, awaits trial but “his relatives and lawyers have been denied access” to see him. His crime, also, is that he was doing his job: politics.
Scarce information is coming out about the young man who was killed in Arua. His name is Yasin Kawuma. His name rarely surfaces. Only refered to as “Bobi Wine’s driver.” It seems nobody knows or is interested in knowing whether the deceased had a family, wife and kids. A life is taken. No one is answerable.
President Yoweri Museveni is worried for only one person: The life and career of Yoweri Museveni. In his statement to the public he assures all that his life is safe, “there was no harm on the old man with a hat.” For him, the loss of life of an innocent man is a joking matter.
Somewhere in the statement he gets serious. “Some leaders,” Museveni begins, “have been acting with impunity and it has caused the death of one in Bugiri and, now, one person in Arua.” It’s classic Museveni. As always, he takes all credit and deflects all blame elsewhere but to himself!
There is neither humility nor humanity in his reflection. Museveni doesn’t care to know the name of the deceased, only casually referring to him as “one person in Arua.” Neither is Museveni interested in finding justice for the dead “person in Arua.” For him, the only assurance Ugandans are interested in is that “there is no harm on the old man with a hat.”
If Museveni’s message was against impunity, it would have been about bringing justice for the deceased. Instead, he emboldened the killers by placing responsibility on “some leaders” presumably in the opposition. Moreover, if the message was not intended to embolden the killers, it would not have rehashed the now discredited line that the shooting resulted from the stones that had been hurled at his car.
As if the capacity for shame hasn’t diminished to the lowest possible level – into nothingness, now charges are being fabricated against the victims of the Arua incident. The fact that it’s clear to all that evidence is being planted isn’t stopping anyone. Apparently Bobi Wine had some AK-47s in his hotel room in Arua! No one in authority is interested in the question why someone who had carried guns with the intention to kill the president had to resort to using stones to fire at a bullet-proof car! But the treason charge will go on.
On March 25, most of us looked on with indifference three weeks ago when a young boda boda rider, Claude Iyakaremye, was picked up in broad day light at Virunga Bus Service in downtown Kampala. The young man, who happened to be of Rwandan origin, was bundled up and taken by intelligence operatives to Makindye military barracks. As with the Arua victims, it was also reported that he had been found with a gun, also an AK-47.
No one uttered a word. The young man, like Bobi Wine, continues to languish in a military facility where those fortunate enough to survive are never the same again. Most leave there permanently incapacitated after undergoing some of the most inhumane torture and forced to admit to fabricated evidence.
Hon. Kyagulanyi must now accept that he had guns in his hotel room with the intention to kill Museveni. The Rwandans are arrested, tortured, and forced to admit to being spies for Rwanda.
On August 3, two Rwandans, Abdul Safari and Karim Niwamanya, were arrested in broad daylight in Kakumiro district. A week later residents of that area were shocked to hear that among the charges against them was that they had guns on them at the time of arrest. Also AK-47s.
This pattern that has for months been used to target innocent Rwandans is now being used against our own. Our media, even supposedly respected media like The Daily Monitor and The New Vision, was silent when the Rwandans were being harassed. Some even sided – and continue to do so – with the harassers that bring unmeasurable pain and suffering to the families of innocent people like Hon. Kyagulanyi, Yasin Kawuma, and Claude Iyakaremye. For victims like Yasin and Claude their lives don’t seem to matter, which is the reason Museveni did not bother to find out the name of “the person in Arua.”
With the media speaking for the powerful (i.e. CMI-Chimpreports, Inc.) it is probably time to start asking about who will protect human rights in our country. Already the courts are on the side that is fabricating evidence and are incapacitated from being able to protect people like Hon. Kyagulanyi, let alone poor Yasin – and Claude, whose life is now subject to military justice.
Uganda’s military “justice” betrays itself and shows partiality when it ignores civilian courts that demand the suspects to appear before them. Such disregard and utter contempt for courts of law in Museveni’s Uganda recalls memories of the dark days of Idi Amin.
The majority of parliament has shown the urge to serve the interests of one man, Museveni, instead of defending the rights of the most vulnerable in our country. One must now wonder who, without parliament, courts, and the media, will speak for the voiceless, especially now that they have chosen to side with those threatening their lives.
Clearly, our president is unafraid of the glaring contradiction that his car was stoned during a political campaign where he had gone to meet the people of Arua and tell them, with a straight face, that his main contribution to their lives is that he brought them peace, security, and freedom.
Where exactly are the peace, security, freedom of speech, and human rights that Museveni is fond of bragging about? Isn’t it just another of his many frauds for him to continue to claim these as part of his legacy? A legacy that is now so threadbare!