Human Rights Watch, Uganda Protests, Walk to work, Besigye, Museveni
Posted Tuesday, May 10 2011 at 00:00
Women demonstrate as opposition walk to work
Hundreds of women donned in white yesterday carried cooking utensils including empty saucepans, mortars and spoons, which they tapped with sticks. Others carried placards calling for immediate government action on high food prices and other basic commodities. The women also condemned the recent brutality displayed by police and other security operatives while handling walk-to-work campaigners.
“In a country without bread, bullets cannot be food, Respect women’s bodies during arrest, Women of Uganda want peace, and stop shooting our babies,” the women said in some of the messages carried on their placards.
Their peaceful demonstration yesterday depicted a change of style by the police in handling public protests which hitherto had been marred by violent confrontations as police tried to stop the protests.
Activists for Change (A4C), a new pressure group behind the walk-to-work campaign last month launched protests against government opulence in the face of a crumbling health sector, skyrocketing prices of basic commodities and corruption. The protests were, however, met with ruthless brutality.
At least 10 lives have been lost, most of them due to gunshot wounds. The violence has, however, faded this week, as police deployed but did not stop any of the opposition leaders walking to work. Gen. Kayihura yesterday said police is responding to a call by Parliament for restraint.
As a result, the women yesterday marched from Kiira grounds through Kitante, to Yusuf Lule Road and back to Kiira Police Station where they held a rally condemning the use of copious amounts of teargas on demonstrators.
Ms Rita Achiro, the Uganda Women Network (UWONET)executive director, said the match is a peaceful show of the women’s demand to the government for accountability.
“This is not a politically motivated march and that’s why we are dressed in white because white shows peace, we demand strong policy measures to address issues of food security, unemployment, health and education,” read part of the statement later handed over to Ms Margaret Ssekaggya the UN rapporteur on Human Rights.
Ms Sekaggya said she would send the statement to the Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Switzerland. The president of the Uganda People’s Congress, Mr Olara Otunnu, also managed to walk unmolested from Makerere University where he attended a morning church service at St Augustine’s Church. He marched to his Uganda House office through Wandegeya.
Former Army Commander Major General Mugisha Muntu and FDC mobilisation secretary, also did not experience any fetter from the security personnel. He walked from his residence in Kololo to FDC’s party headquarters in Najjanakumbi.
He hit the road at 8:50 later joining other campaigners, Budadiri West MP Nandala Mafabi, Kumi County MP Amuriat Oboi at Wampewo Roundabout on Jinja Road. They walked through Kampala Road, Entebbe Road up to Najjanankumbi. At Kibuye round-about, there was heavy deployment of anti-riot police though the men in uniform this time did not confront the walkers.
Reported by Isaac Imaka, Anthony Wesaka, Nelson Wesonga & Emmanuel Mulondo