By Moses Ssejjoba
Hundreds of young men and women from northern Uganda, most specifically those in Gulu, are nursing injuries of varying degrees, some of them life-threatening.
They were not mobbed by any other outlaws; they were early this week mauled by security forces on the orders of President Museveni. Their crime? They dared speak out on excesses of Museveni, in a peaceful demonstration against his continued clampdown on the opposition, while he continues to stage campaign rallies across the country.
Besides expressing, in a peaceful manner, their discontent at the Museveni double standards of being in full-throttle campaign mode while even a consultative gathering between a handful opposition members has been outlawed, the youths were also protesting against the brutality of police and other security agents.
Ironically, it is the same security forces that descended onto them and beat them to pulp.
The grisly pictures that were released by opposition lawmaker Hon Robert Kyagulanyi about the incident are disheartening to look at.
Another reason, probably most compelling, was the fact that the youths wanted to show the country that the handful of fellow youths, who were recently paid and bussed to a Museveni campaign rally in the Acholi sub-region, were not representative of all the youth of that region.
The young mercenaries who were paid by Museveni recently declared at his rally that the Acholi youth endorsed his life-presidency, something that attracted the ire of majority of their peers who said this was actually contrary to their views.
This is the region that has probably most suffered under the 33-year rule of the Museveni junta and they were fully justified in showing discontent for the gross misrepresentation of the mercenaries. “In response, the police and other operatives in civilian attire used tear gas and fired live bullets at them,” said a statement by Hon. Kyagulanyi.
Many of these young activists, who were only exercising what they thought was their right, were badly injured, “including my brother and fellow artiste Bosmic Otim”, Bobi Wine wrote. “Their only crime is belonging to People Power as opposed to singing praises for the dictatorship.
“If they had gathered to sing praises for the failed regime, they would even get police protection,” concluded the legislator.
People Power is a political pressure group mainly embraced by the youth, and it is sweeping across the country under the leadership of the highly popular Kyaguranyi.
The group that is fast gaining notoriety in different youthful spaces including all major universities in the country has over the past few months suffered a major clampdown by the regime. And the movement is not just popular in higher institutions of learning, every youth in the country has suddenly been awakened by this group.
They are woken to the fact that they cannot just sit by as the country is mortgaged by Museveni and his few cronies. The message by Kyagulanyi and the courage drawn from his fast-rising political clout gives them hope that they can stop this plunder of our country. That is exactly why the junta is having sleepless nights and it will stop at nothing to curtail this movement that is spreading to all corners of the country.
The good news is that the courageous young Ugandans, despite the brutality against them, are determined more than ever and are not about to buckle down. They know that their rights, and indeed that of all other Ugandans in the Museveni decades-long bondage, will not come on a silver platter.
“I can confirm that despite the physical pain, these comrades are still standing strong and ready to soldier on until Uganda is free!” Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine, declared.
The People Power leadership is also not taking the brutality lying down, as the popular young leader assures the youngsters.
“Aside from the legal suits we are bringing against individual officers who engage in these brutal acts, I want to put them on notice that Ugandans are watching,” he pledged to the youth.