STATEMENT ON THE KIDNAP, TORTURE AND MURDER OF #PEOPLE-POWER SUPPORTERS
A few weeks ago, a longtime friend, musician and strong supporter of the #PeoplePower movement in Uganda was kidnapped.
Kalinda Michael, mostly known by his stage name Zigy Wyne was abducted and subjected to horrendous forms of torture. His left eye was plucked out, two of his fingers cut off and parts of his body were burnt with a flat iron. He was beaten to near death, and dumped at Mulago hospital by unknown people where he spent a week before being identified by his family and friends. Last night, he was declared dead.
Since August 2018 when I was brutally arrested and tortured alongside more than 36 other Ugandan political leaders and activists, countless other Ugandans who have openly identified with the #PeoplePower movement have been kidnapped, illegally detained, tortured or murdered in cold blood. Only these past three months, there have been several attacks on many friends and comrades.
Indeed, on 14th May, 2019 Raphael Walugembe our coordinator and student of Nkozi University was shot dead in Nateete under suspicious circumstances.
Around May 20th Mukisa Joshua William one of the People Power candidates in the Makerere University guild election was kidnapped, only to reappear with severe torture marks. Likewise, Ashburg Katto who also works with our media team was kidnapped only to be later dumped at a roadside.
On 22nd May, our supporter and coordinator Okot P’ Bitek Junior sustained grave injuries after being shot in Amolatar district by a UPDF solider. On May 23rd, Ssebulime Rashid, a local leader in Kawempe Division was attacked and his house set ablaze. He sustained severe injuries. On 3rd June, our strong mobiliser from Busiro North constituency, Kibalama Johnbosco was abducted and to date, his whereabouts are not known.
On 4th June, another coordinator and popular ariste Lucky Bosmic Otim was severely brutalized by the police in Gulu district. On 7th June, our strong mobiliser and L.C. 5 Councilor for Buvuma district, Lukoma Stephen Ssalongo was shot dead.
These are only few of the many supporters and comrades who have been victims of targeted attacks. We have received reports of people being arrested and detained for putting on either the red beret or t-shirts branded with our symbols or slogans.
Whenever we have activities such as attending court sessions or rallies, countless young people are brutalized, arrested and illegally detained in the various cells around the country. Many have reported being beaten up from police stations and asked to denounce People Power if they want to live.
Indeed last year, a well-wisher released a video recording of police officers at Kajjansi police post beating up 30 year old Kassim Migadde as they mocked him for associating with People Power.
At the end of April this year, when I was brutally arrested and illegally placed under house arrest, many young people who came out to peacefully protest against police brutality were arrested, tortured and many are still under detention.
It was during that time that our friend and comrade, Nalongo Nana Mwafrika was manhandled by police officers, severely tortured, culminating in losing her uterus! Earlier, Justine Ssekandi, a female artiste who composed a song in support of our movement was abducted from Kamwokya, beaten to a pulp and dropped in the mortuary thinking she was dead – she spent several hours amongst dead bodies!
Some other comrades and friends have recently died in very suspicious road accidents.
Our calls to have these matters investigated by the authorities and perpetrators brought to book never yield much. Further, we have filed several court cases about these violations including the one about the murder of my driver Yasin Kawuma, but there has not been much progress. The Uganda Human Rights Commission has equally let us down in our efforts to put an end to untold levels of torture and brutality.
Sometimes, officers handling them have disclosed that they are orders from above not to follow them up. Many colleagues including those I work with very closely have received calls from unknown people with clear threats of death, should they continue to support People Power!
Only yesterday, music promoters Andrew Mukasa (Bajjo) and Abbey Musinguzi (Abtex) were violently arrested, and their music show blocked for their perceived association with me and People Power!
I must add that many other people, who have been vocal in opposing President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s regime of 33 years, regardless of whether they belong to his ‘party’ or other political formations have been equally assaulted, tortured and intimidated.
Only three weeks back, former journalist and preacher, Joseph Kabuleta was abducted from a restaurant, bundled into a private vehicle and taken into a security facility where as he narrates, he was subjected to torture and intimidation.
Similarly, on 24th June, Oprah Phoebe Kiddu a youth leader in President Museveni’s NRM party was abducted by security operatives from Mengo in Kampala and subjected to gross forms of torture for over three weeks until she was dumped on the roadside on 19th July. She has stated that her captors demanded that she stops opposing Museveni’s sole candidature as well as leading a pro-democracy pressure group.
As we draw towards the 2021 elections, it is apparent that President Museveni is determined to silence any form of dissent using extreme violence.
Although he came to power castigating former presidents Milton Obote and Idi Amin of torture and extra-judicial killings of their opponents, he seems determined to out-do their record in terms of committing unspeakable atrocities against the wanainchi.
Despite these grave and provocative violations against us and our people, we are committed to using peaceful means in our quest for political change in Uganda.
We call upon all peace loving citizens of the world to join us in condemning horrendous violations against innocent citizens in Uganda.
We thank you all for your support and solidarity thus far, and continue to call upon you to support us as we struggle for a better country which respects human rights and human dignity. We can and shall achieve this, God being our help.
For God and My Country!
Hon. Kyagulanyi Ssentamu Robert
People Power – Uganda
This was first published on Bobi Wine’s Facebook page.