A police commissioner, Andrew Kaweesi, wrote in the Newvsion on 7th April 2011 on the link: http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/459/751433 asking government to regulate Ugandans At Heart(UAH) forum. He says that the forum is a threat to national security but cleary this is not true. UAH has got a membership of over 8000 people and some of these are NRM members, members of parliament, representatives of traditional leaders, the army and police itself. The forum has also extended invitations to president himself and his family because whatever it is debated, it is for the benefit of all Ugandans.The forum has also got rules and regulations that guide new members on how to conduct themselves during discussions. Basically, the forum welcomes all Ugandans of different levels
One forum member called Kassimu Kiberu questioned:”Why has the Newvision increased its attacks on UAH recently? They have been calling it a ‘gossip’ forum, so why should a gossip forum be a threat to anybody?These are the people now telling Museveni to arrest the UAH moderator, Abbey Semuwemba. Just wait and see where this end- they will ask security to call some of the Ugandans abroad – rebels and some insane charges will be prepared very soon against them.”
According to Mr.Robert Ssenkindu, another forum member from Sweden: ‘this fora pose no national security whatsoever as they are trying to insinuate. It is rather a shadow parliament working much better than the rubber stamp parliament which is of no use but waste tax payers money. These guys do think that they can go further and stretch their brutal arms across the border and intimidate peaceful folks. What is being discussed here reflect genuine problems which are affecting the nation yet they are being overlooked by the men and women who call themselves representatives of folk.
Ssenkindu went on to say:’’ if these folks are in the full know that they are violating the rights of others by going against both the constitutional and legal provisions of the land, they should bear in mind that with high tech, cyber warfare is the best substitute of what would otherwise have been daily demonstrations which now seem to be outlawed in the land. No amount of intimidation is likely to yield anything unless the circumstances dictate otherwise.
My simple opinion to bwana Abbey is to not let himself be remote-controlled by the gangsters dwelling in Kampala, but rather continue to let Ugandans globally express their views freely without being turned into prisoners of conscience like those one in K’la. Perhaps they should start to deploy kiboko squad here and teargas canisters to disperse us??’’
Another forum member based in the USA, John Kigs said:’’ There should not even be any worry about Abbey being arrested for he is not in Uganda and therefore that’s fine and secondly there is what is called freedom of speech just because we are doing the unthinkable in Uganda does not give them any right to threaten us.
There is no way they will stop the waves of UAH given that it’s not controlled by them and instead they need to wake up for its coming hard but it will only be us to destroy the wave given our ill twisted minds that makes us think on narrow angles than the broad way.’’
Rehema from Kampala also added:’’ The internet is a painful pill for those that seek to regulate thought. Too much freedom is a very bad thing in the eyes of a dictator like M7! Something must be done to end this level of freedom! That is why they hate UAH. Im surprised that the police have gone down to this level of threatening peaceful Ugandans holding debates on national and international issues. Who the hell does this Kaweesa Police man think he is? Do they think they own Uganda and love it more than the rest of Ugandans? Why do they think they know more about what Ugandans want than Ugandans themselves?
Practically and legally speaking, combating online political extremism is enormously difficult. All parties involved recognize that it is difficult to regulate the flow of information on the Internet. They may kill or arrest or punish Brother Abby semuwemba when he is in Uganda but the effect for people to use the internet to oppose government may become enormous. If the govt blocks UAH, then they may send more 30 Ugandans to open up something like UAH.’’
Peter Simon also had no kind words for Andrew Kaweesa:’’ I think it is people like Andrew Kaweesi who may pose security risk to their countries when they try to suffocate other people; whereas in Ugandan for example, the Constitution espouses freedom of expression, assembly and associations, our Police has found it offensive if people discuss local, national and international issues that help to shape the entire world. Take the current issues in North Africa for example where members of the forum are engaged in discussing the merits and demerits of the West’s intervention, what security risk is meted on Libya? How does such a discussion pose threats to national security? Keep suffocating people and reap the consequences when the tyres/balloons burst, the pressure released can deflect the police teargas.
Well, some police officers will remind Andrew Kaweesa that there have been earlier police officers before him, and some of them sadly left the police force against their will, so he might find himself in foreign lands then he will feel the pinch of suffocation.
I think Andrew Kaweesa should get a team of well informed personnel to counter arguments presented or alternatively get members of the force who participate to explain to the forum members or other interested parties what is going on in the country and the region so that we share and exchange ideas on how we can build our country. If we are going to keep quiet, then there will be loss of developmental ideas. Just recently Dr. Kayongo put a proposal on how health services could be rebuilt in Uganda and has asked members to give their views on the way forward, so how does that pose a threat to Uganda’s national security? I am at a loss unless my ignorance security issues is to blame.’’
NRM supporter and daughter of NRM secretary General, Nina Mbabazi also blamed Kaweesa for saying that internet should be regulated:”But who wrote such a foolish article? Cyber weapons target vulnerable educated youth, “the dot com generation” who are mobilised into cyber addicts with a radical zeal of causing a generation change irrespective of the means it takes. The activist tends to be lost in their own world completely detached from their cultural heritage.
Google is going to outdo themselves trying to ensure free speech. This guy doesn’t know what he is saying. In China now, facebook is accessible despite the blocking by goverment. And google has developed a new tool allowing you to call in and your conversation turns into text on twitter.Just saw twitter and Ugandans posting the picture of the kids who were teargassed yesterday. That is what I mean by unstoppable internet. They should just get with the program.”