By Vincent Nuwagaba
Dear Ugandans at Heart,
I commend many of you for the concern you have shown me in regard to the plight I am undergoing.I have told you before that I am about to be convicted and pushed to Luzira on trumped up charges of assault and threatening violence.
On 21st January, just a week ago, I went to Kampala City Hall court expecting to have the ruling for threatening violence read to me. However, the Magistrate told me that the ruling would be read for me tomorrow on Friday 29 January 2010.
Shockingly, I was told by a certain Lawyer that the Magistrate was set to convict me for assault. The Lawyer himself knows that the charges are politically motivated and the State has now realised that the only means through which I can be stopped from sharing my ideas with the masses is by having me maliciously convicted.
I never assaulted a police woman; I was arrested by five police officers with two guns; I was beaten terribly and deprived of my money; I was denied police bond allegedly on the orders of the Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura; I have attempted seeing Gen Kayihura and it has been Impossible; my case against the Attorney General and Dr Onen was dismissed on 28 August 2009 and to date no ground for its dismissal has been told to me.
I have been pushed against the wall so much so that I am tempted some times to do something bad. But on second thought I realise that I shouldn’t drink from the cup of bitterness. I know the NRM gurus might think that they can torture me incessantly and ultimately kill me but for sure, the people of Bushenyi and all the people that know me in and outside Uganda will never forget although some may reluctantly forgive them.
First, it is very clear that in criminal charges, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution and the degree of proof must be beyond reasonable doubt. Whoever could have attended the hearing of my cases must know quite well that if our justice system was fair, the so-called state witnesses should have been arrested for they were committing an offence of perjury.
I remember the Magistrate himself telling the State Attorney, thus “State, your witness is more of a dramatist than a witness”.
I have said before that I expect no justice in Museveni’s judiciary but what pains me so much is the silence of the Ugandan human rights defenders who know pretty well my ordeal and have done nothing to come to my rescue. I wonder whether the label human rights defenders continues being relevant if they cannot stand by the helpless like me. If I would borrow from Martin Luther King Jr, at last we shall not remember the oppression of our enemies but the silence of our friends. It is on this ground that I call upon the friends to the human rights defenders to break their silence.
I wouldn’t mind being convicted if I was guilty. I wouldn’t even fear being jailed in Luzira if I was a criminal. But the truth of the matter is that the government is using that as a strategy to kill me for they know that it will be quite easy to poison me or to take me to a prison farm where they can shoot me and say, I was attempting to escape.
I opposed the increment of fees up to 126% and I still oppose it. I strongly believe that any functional state must be able to provide education, health services and infrastructure to its citizens. I still oppose the new fees structures in Makerere University. And I have argued before that Museveni’s government must fund public educational institutions and subsidise private educational institutions because people trained therein are not private people but citizens who will immensely contribute to national development. In fact, as the semester opens next week, year one students in Makerere will do whatever is possible to make sure that the sudden, unprecedented and heartless fees increment aimed at making us the sons and daughters of the peasants fail to study is reversed. The government has money that has always been wasted in statehouse. I know of Museveni’s advisers and ministers’ children studying on statehouse scholarship. Are we slaves in our country that we must be exploited and live under slavery and servitude? If Museveni and his people have realized that leadership is complicated let them pave way for us the young blood to take over from them. I have argued before that Museveni of 1986 is fundamentally different from the Museveni of 2010. We must liberate ourselves from the predatory Museveni and destructive NRM.
I beg that in case I die, all my views that I have documented be published in black and white so that our descendants learnt what I stood for and what I died for. I am not at all inclined to sell my conscience. I will not sell my country at a price; I will not sell my cherished values. People that have tremendously made a contribution in society never died as rich men. Jesus Christ whom majority of us worship daily was died a poor man materially but mentally and morally very rich. I prefer material poverty to moral and mental poverty which many of our politicians are suffering from. I would rather die for a genuine cause than live in subjugation and under oppression.
There has been a misconception that all westerners are benefitting from Museveni. Never has this ever been true! The beneficiaries in the Museveni’s regime are a few people from his Hima sub-ethnic group and his old boys at Ntare and Dar-Es-Salaam. This is not how the state should be run.
I know many people will argue that everyone is sectarian in a way. Possibly, the mistake Uganda made is to accept a person who never studied from Makerere to be president because then he had very few Ugandan friends. But also, that argument may not be tenable because Mwalimu Nyerere, Benjamin Mkapa and Mwai Kibaki never studied from their countries for university degrees. Thus, one can argue that Museveni’s sectarianism and myopia are intrinsically and inherently rooted in him as a person.
There are people who have accused me of not respecting the president because he is a fountain of honour. They are wrong. The president is a fountain of honour only and only when he comports himself in an honourable manner. Ugandans deserve better. I have written to the president complaining about corruption and grave human rights violations but the reward I have got instead has been illegal arrests; detentions without trial; incommunicado detentions and a reminder that this country has owners. Assuming Museveni owned Uganda, does he also own my grandfather’s land in which I stay? Does he also own my bank account from which I draw money to foot my bills?
This is a litmus test to all the opposition members who encourage Ugandans to stand up and challenge their leaders. If none can standby me then it will be difficult for very many youngmen and women to stand to be counted. Hence, the opposition can as well forget about the 2011 election and count it a fait accompli.
To those who share with me my ordeal I only appeal to you to extend a helping hand through offering me legal aid and financial support. I strongly believe that I stand for the noblest cause which shouldn’t die anyhow.
Should I be convicted tomorrow, it might be the last time you hear about me for I have clearly learnt that the NRM’s intention is to sacrifice me as a martyr. I have learnt this from a top ranking UPDF officer who told me of a new spy unit called the “Dirty Tricks Unit.” I was told that the Dirty Tricks Unit follows their targets wherever they go and that they even use their spouses or their landlords. If they fail to find any dent on you, they will economically incapacitate you and make life impossible for you. This is exactly what they have done.
Vincent Nuwagaba, Human Rights Defender