Why Opposition marked grim milestone in Nairobi
What you need to know:
- Ms Martha Karua, a top Kenyan Opposition politician, was the guest of honour. She used her opening remarks to call on African states to shine a light on the human rights violations in Uganda and East Africa on the whole.
Parallels are bound to be drawn between conferences held here in the Kenyan capital this week and Moshi in March 1979.
A common thread is the extrajudicial killings that gathered major political players from either era for the round-table talks.
The Nairobi conference on Thursday was convened under the auspices of the Kenya Human Rights Commission. Dubbed the Uganda Human Rights Accountability Conference, its main goal was demanding the Ugandan authorities give an account of the people who lost their lives on November 18 and November 19, 2020.
Ms Martha Karua, a top Kenyan Opposition politician, was the guest of honour. She used her opening remarks to call on African states to shine a light on the human rights violations in Uganda and East Africa on the whole.
Ufungamano House, the venue for the Nairobi conference, was ‘decked out’ in portraits of victims from the November killings. The stage where the pulpit was placed beamed with the Ugandan flags, and on them sculptures of skulls in their hundreds hang.
The event was punctuated by stories of some of the family members and friends of the deceased. They gave chilling accounts of the bloodbath that occupied two days in November of 2020 and claimed 54 lives after Mr Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, was arrested while on the campaign trail in Luuka District.
“I am happy to be talking because many who have dared Gen Museveni’s rule have paid the ultimate price of death,” Bobi Wine, the National Unity Platform (NUP) principal, said, adding, “Those who lost their loved ones cannot even speak about it, and we, as the leaders in the Opposition equally have to remain silent.”
Mr Bernard Mogesa, the chief executive officer of Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, said the decision to host the function in Nairobi was informed by the hostility of the Ugandan government to the Opposition in the country.
“I hope countries around Africa can take this case seriously,” Mr Mogesa said on the day it was revealed that Kampala had shelled out billions of shillings on new anti-riot trucks, adding, “The silence to the suffering of our neighbours shall soon catch up with us in our own homes.”
Dr Kizza Besigye, a doyen in Ugandan politics, thanked the Kenyan hosts for their “hospitality.”
On his part, Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu — the leader of Alliance for National Transformation (ANT party)—urged the participants from Uganda “to remain together after this conference such that we go back home more solid and determined.”
The European Union Delegation to Uganda marked the grim milestone of the November 2020 killings by reiterating its “call for justice, rightful compensation and for all perpetrators to be held to account.”
“Do you want justice for that man who was seen in a video hitting a policewoman with a hammer? Or didn’t you see those goons undressing women wearing yellow T-shirts? There were those who were shot by stray bullets but why did the riots take place in the first place?” Uganda’s Information minister, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, told Sunday Monitor via telephone.
A government investigation concluded that only 11 of those shot dead were “rioters.” It further revealed that 42 people succumbed to “stray bullets”, with one crashed to death by a car.
Mr Andrew David Omona, a researcher at Uganda Christian University, said in his keynote address: “These incidents have always been seen in regimes that came before President Museveni’s.”
Mr Fredrick Nsubuga, a trader in Kiseka market, also revisited losing his son to a gunman who opened fire, killing the 15-year-old in an instant.