By Kizza Besigye
Tonight, I feel like becoming a real “terrorist”! This is the effect of endless acts of impunity on the part of the Uganda Police. When the people assigned the responsibility of maintaining law and order become deliberate and arrogant law breakers, where does one turn to?
The day (Thursday 25th Feb 2016) started on a bright side, with a visit by my colleague Maj Gen (rtd) Benon Biraro, who shared a number of ideas on how our country could be put back on rails.
I was also expecting a visit from some Human Rights defenders, including Ms Maria Burnett of the Human Rights Watch. These visitors had come to see me the previous day but were blocked by the police at the barricade they erected on the driveway to our home. In spite of sending my aide to plead with the police (since I couldn’t be allowed to get there myself), they were turned away after waiting for more than 2hrs. They were, instead, asked to come back today at 9am.
The Human Rights defenders, who arrived at the police blockade at 8.45am, eventually left about 10am without seeing me. After the usual lengthy “consultations”, that involve talking to the top police commanders, my visitors were told that they won’t be allowed to see me!
Shortly after 10am, some visitors, who hadn’t informed me of their visit (a normal occurrence), arrived at the police blockade in a minibus from Kakiri, in our District of Wakiso.
As they inquired from the police whether they could be allowed in to see me, the goons that man the notorious police van UP 4860 sprung into action. They opened the minibus, pulled out two of the occupants and threw them into their van. The driver of the minibus quickly reversed and sped off with the other visitors.
At 11am, I made my attempt at leaving home for Najjanankumbi, our party headquarters. As before, I was told that I wasn’t allowed to move out. When I insisted, I was arrested and pushed into the notorious van.
Here, I found two terrified men that were in immense pain. The van had a strong smell of pepper spray that immediately made my sore throat worse and affected my eyes. The two men informed me that they had been badly beaten and pepper-sprayed while in the van.
One of the men held in the van, named Jamilu Budde (whom I know) was crying with pain and holding his left arm in a manner that suggested he could have had a broken collar bone.
I pleaded with the “Commander” of the van, one Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Kidandi to let me help Budde with First Aid and get him taken to the clinic, but this was denied. Instead, the two men were roughly thrown off the van and I was carried away alone.
After driving through Matugga, Kawempe, Mpererwe, Kisaasi, Northern Bypass, and Naalya, I was deposited in Kira Division police Hqs. This is where I stayed until I was given a bond and “released” at about 9pm.
I made it clear, like before, that if the reason they arrested still existed, then they should keep me in detention. Otherwise, once freed, I should be truly free and not expect the police to detain me at my home. As before, I was told that I’d no choice but to be taken back home.
I am now back home and, as before, detained there! I tried as much as I could, unsuccessfully, to demand that they take me to a proper (gazatted) detention place or let me free. My sore throat was worsened by the pepper spray I found in the van. I informed my captors about this and that I would do well to consult my physician. All this fell on deaf ears.
I have since found out that Mr Budde and his colleague, who were tortured and left on our home’s driveway earlier, were later briefly held at Kasangati Police Station and later transferred to Kireka Police. Mr Budde hasn’t had any medical attention that I am sure he badly needs.
This is the dilemma of leaving in a country governed by a rogue regime. This is the very reason I wake up early everyday to do something about it. I am confident that, by the Grace of God, we shall overcome.
One Uganda, One People!!