May 2011

Day May 14, 2011

Protesting the inauguration of Museveni in Boston

Ugandans at home and abroad have begun peaceful demonstrations against the failed regime of Museveni, massive rigging of presidential, parliamentary and local elections, and refusal to address the rising prices of goods and services especially of fuel and food.

When Museveni came to power in 1986, he promised democracy, free and fair elections, law and order, equal development opportunities for all and a society devoid of sectarianism and corruption. The people of Uganda would be sovereign and the government would be its servant.  To avoid abuse, the separation of powers among the executive, legislative and judiciary branches would be strictly enforced. And merit would be the criterion for appointments and promotions. These promises were contained in the ten point program which was developed and adopted by consensus during the guerrilla war and published in 1985.

Once in power Museveni took a different path. Without consulting the public, he dropped the popular ten point program and replaced it with structural adjustment program in 1987. He dismissed or marginalized Ugandans including the minister of finance who opposed the severe (shock therapy) version of adjustment and threatened those who opposed the new program, marking the beginning of dictatorial rule that has intensified over the last twenty five years.

The implementation of structural adjustment was based on the operation of market forces and laissez faire capitalism, trickle down mechanism and a significantly reduced role of the state in the economy and balanced budget. Free trade, comparative advantage, privatization of public enterprises, retrenchment of public servants and elimination of subsidies in social sectors of education, health and housing as well as in agriculture were implemented. It had been hoped that through a trickle down mechanism, the benefits of rapid economic growth would benefit social sectors and the private sector would create employment for retrenched public servants and new workers.

However, in practice things have worked differently. Democracy through free and fair elections has been denied. All the elections since 1996 have been rigged in favor of Museveni and his National Resistance Movement (NRM) party. The 2011 elections are particularly troubling because over five million Ugandans were disenfranchised and an equal number of foreigners were bused into the country from neighboring countries and voted for Museveni and his party. As foreigners are not allowed to vote the election results are illegitimate. The Commonwealth Observer Team reported that the entire electoral process lacked a level playing field, implying that the results are null and void. The presidential opponents of Museveni have refused to concede defeat and the opposition has rejected the results. It is calling for the formation of a transitional coalition government to organize free and fair elections.

Uganda’s economy and governance have been characterized by skewed distribution of income in favor of a few families and blatant corruption and sectarianism. As a result over fifty percent of the population live in absolute poverty, over 80 percent of youth are unemployed, some ten million Ugandans go to bed hungry every night, forty percent of children under five are undernourished, over 80 percent of primary school children drop out of school every year in large part for luck of school lunch which the government has refused to support although endorsed by NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development). School lunches improve attendance and performance especially of girls.
The failed economy has resulted in the emergence and spreading of diseases of poverty which include jiggers, scabies, trachoma, tuberculosis, malnutrition and malaria. Reduced public investment has severely undermined institutions, infrastructure and social systems which are on the brink of collapse. The extensive clearance of vegetation to increase agricultural production for export and domestic markets has severely damaged the environment which is now characterized by rising temperatures and reduced rainfall. Consequently, Uganda is experiencing frequent and longer droughts and floods with adverse impact on agricultural production and food availability.

These adverse outcomes have created challenges for the government which has responded with brute force and a president that has become dictatorial and insensitive to the needs of the public. Instead of allocating more resources to the development sectors to reduce suffering, Museveni has decided to invest more in security forces to crack down dissent.

A combination of external and domestic factors has resulted in rapid increase of prices especially on fuel/kerosene and food. Whereas other countries like Kenya have responded by intervening to reduce prices including by reducing taxes, the government of Uganda has totally refused to intervene arguing that the causes are externally induced for fuel and “Acts of God” for food. External factors and Acts of God have been aggravated by domestic policies – high taxes, liberal export of food and pumping too much money in the economy during the election campaigns. Consequently, there is a high tax on fuel and kerosene. The government could have eased the price by reducing tax or increasing the supply of fuel from national reserves or using foreign currency reserves to import more fuel but the government has refused.
The food shortage has been caused in part by low rainfall which is partly the result of environmental degradation starting especially in 1974 when Amin authorized extensive de-vegetation to increase crop cultivation and herding, a policy that has continued and intensified under Museveni’s government to diversify agricultural production for export.  The encouragement of food exports to neighboring countries and beyond has further reduced domestic supplies driving prices up beyond the means of many households.

Peaceful demonstrations that began in March and intensified since April are designed to convince the government to agree to a transitional coalition government to arrange free and fair elections and to intervene in the economy and address the rising prices especially of fuel and food. The government has responded with disproportionate force against peaceful demonstrators notwithstanding that Ugandans have the right to march, assemble and express opinion peacefully.

The brutal use of force has been condemned by the international community including western governments, non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International and the media. We appeal to the Secretary General of the United Nations to use his good offices and help end the brutal violation of human rights in Uganda, a member state of the United Nations that served on the Security Council two years ago and is now a member of the Human Rights Council.

Professor Eric Kashambuzi


Ugandans in the UK Demonstrate on Museveni’s Swearing-in Day

Ugandan Women’s Movement Marches in Protest at State sponsored terrorism







Over the last few weeks, we have witnessed a series of disturbing events in which we have seen the State and its law enforcement agencies respond in a brutal and often excessive manner to citizens’ demands for government action to address increased prices, cost of living, growing poverty, inequality in distribution of resources and corruption.

During this period, the Police and other security agencies have sought to quell demonstrations under the ‘Walk to Work’ Campaign using live ammunition and copious amounts of tear gas resulting in the loss of life, injuries to persons, and destruction of property. We have seen our sisters, brothers, and children affected in various ways with many still nursing injuries in hospital and others arrested and imprisoned, some without charge. In some incidences, sections of the public have exploited the volatile situation to break the law further spawning a downward spiral of violence both in Kampala and in other towns upcountry.

The shooting to death of two year old Juliana Nalwanga in Masaka, seven-month pregnant Ms. Nalwendo in the stomach and the brutal arrest and treatment of demonstrators and some bystanders are but some of the horrific incidents that have shocked us and invoked unease and a range of reactions from various sections of Uganda’s population and international actors including the Inter Religious Council, the Uganda Law Society and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

While the State has a duty to ensure law and order, the State is also obliged to respect, promote, protect, and fulfill the rights of its citizens as enshrined in the 1995 Constitution and other regional and international treaties to which Uganda is a signatory.[1]  In attempting to fulfill its obligations in the last few weeks, the State has instead used excessive force resulting in the infringement of some of the fundamental rights enshrined in Chapter 4 of the Constitution including the right to life, the freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, freedom of movement, right to access prompt, fair and timely justice and freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment.

We are also deeply concerned about the suffering that has been occasioned  by the escalating food and fuel prices.  Many women, men and children are subsequently unable to meet their basic needs and enjoy their basic right to food, education, health and shelter. While we recognize the myriad of causes behind the current crisis, we also wish to express our profound disappointment with government’s indifference, exhibited by the lack of urgent action to curb the situation and apparent disregard of pressing priorities in allocation of government expenditure.

We as Women in Civil Society are hereby convening to register our deep concern and condemnation on the use of excessive force by the Police and other security agencies and subsequent escalating violence and to call upon the State to take critical measures to address the key issues/ concerns raised by the public so as to avert a national crisis. In particular, we wish to register our deep concern of:

  1. The use of excessive force and especially the use of live ammunition to quell demonstrations, indiscriminate physical assaults on civilians, spraying of vast amounts of tear gas in closed spaces including cars, schools, dispensaries and homes occasioning loss of life and property, severe injuries and pain among innocent children, by standers, those at work and urban dwellers. We are greatly concerned that rather than enjoy state protection, citizens are preoccupied with defending themselves against its wrath;
  1. The brutality of officers of the Uganda Police Force and other security operatives in handling the “Walk to Work” campaign which amounted to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment for those that were arrested;
  1. The intimidation of human rights defenders who have spoken out on various issues of concern including the declining space for engagement;
  1. Censorship of the media and a curtailing of press freedom and freedom of expression, including intimidation and security threats to journalists and media houses carrying out their duty as a watchdog of the state and provider of information to the public;
  2. he increased erosion of the independence of the three arms of government  and lack of . The actions and decisions of some judicial officers which cast doubt in the minds of the public on whether justice is being done. We are equally concerned that contrary to the public appeal for the perpetrators of violence to be brought to justice, the Minister for Internal Affairs has instead defended the use of brutal force. Such responses from government risk promoting impunity.
  1. The increased militarization of the State and use of armed forces to enforce law and order and quell peaceful protests which heightens risks of violent conflict and will affect the entire population of Uganda including men, women and children.

We as women’s civil society organisations are calling upon the Government to respect, promote, protect, and fulfill the rights of its citizens as enshrined in the 1995 Constitution and exercise restraint in fulfilling its obligations. Government must recognize that the language of force and violence alienates more then 50% of Uganda’s population – the women and diminishes our initiative to exercise our civic duties within the public sphere;

We are calling upon Government to take proactive measures to address broader social justice issues, and ensure that key concerns voiced by various sections of the public are addressed. We demand for strong policy measures to address issues food security, unemployment, health and education. We also demand for government’s resolve to ensure greater transparency in the allocation and management of public resources, reduction of excessive government expenditure and equitable distribution of benefits of economic growth to all the citizens of Uganda.

We are formally submitting an appeal to the Government and to the International Community through the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights defenders (UNSR) requesting for thorough, prompt and impartial investigations into the human rights violations committed by the security forces.

Finally,we are calling upon the public to remain peaceful in the pursuit of various rights and to desist from violent actions. We are also calling for national dialogue between key parties and urge  all stakeholders including the regional and international community to intervene in ensuring peace and justice prevails in Uganda.




[1]These treaties include the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, the African Charter on Human And Peoples’ Rights and the Maputo Protocol on Women’s Rights in Africa


KASANGATI, May 13 2011, 3:00PM

Fellow Ugandans,

I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the very warm welcome that you accorded me yesterday when I arrived. I was truly humbled by the thousands of Ugandans that came out from the moment I touched down in Entebbe and all the way to my home to Kasangati. Thanks to the first aid I received immediately after the vicious attack from friends and family and from professional and dedicated doctors in both Uganda and Kenya; I have recovered from most of my injuries and I am back and ready to work. Thank you all for your prayers, God heard you and saved my life.

Your warm welcome was met with the same brutality, meted out by the same security operatives who have continuously assaulted and killed us since the Walk to Work campaign began. The Presidential Guard, military police, regular police and militia dressed in black and in civilian clothes descended on a happy and peaceful procession to indiscriminately kill and injure innocent Ugandans. This time even the media was not spared. They were injured and their cameras and equipment broken, to destroy evidence of state brutality against unarmed civilians. They used live ammunition, tear gas, water cannons, hit people with sticks and batons not to mention the heavy presence of mambas and huge artillery weapons that accompanied the procession to create an atmosphere fear and tension.

I mourn those who have been killed while welcoming me and my heart is with the families of the deceased. There seems to be an attempt to hide the identities of those who were killed and injured yesterday. If you were hurt or know somebody who was killed or hurt and needs support, please inform us. We will do whatever we can to support you, we are in this together. Activists for Change is opening two help lines 0705204772 and 0759367165 tomorrow; and we invite all peace loving Ugandans who want a better country to participate by reaching out and supporting victims of state violence. You can call this number, and participate by visiting victims and contributing to victims medical costs and their family needs.

We will not stand by and watch our country slide back to those dark days when Ugandans were at the mercy of dictators and their armies. Let the tear gas, the beatings, the torture and killings increase our resolve to end this humiliation and denial of our God given rights. The NRM government stands warned to stop their vicious unprovoked attacks on unarmed Ugandans.

I was also very pleased to note that our procession was largely peaceful in spite of the unprovoked and vicious attacks from the state. Let me stress to you again, that as we continue to assert ourselves before a tired, illegitimate and frightened NRM regime our actions must remain peaceful. We must not respond to the NRM’s violence with other acts of violence.

Let me express my deep appreciation to the Activists for Change led by Mathias Mpuuga for bravely leading this campaign which has in a short time grown to embrace civil society including opposition parties. We must remain united and resolved to bring about positive change. Last but not least I would like to acknowledge my colleagues, leaders of the opposition DP, Suubi, JEEMA, CP, UPC and FDC for their visionary leadership, together we can make a difference for our people.

Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye

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