Bobi Wine film will leave NRM’s human rights record in tatters

Author: Musaazi Namiti. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • Who told our leaders that Ugandans are dying to be led by the NRM?

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was pretty hard for Ugandans seeking asylum in Europe and North America to succeed. The questions they had to answer convincingly — and they were hard ones to answer — were: Why should you be offered asylum? What are you fleeing from?

Ugandans who succeeded had to tell lies. I was, for example, contacted by two Ugandan economic refugees in the UK who wanted me to write stories that they had fled Uganda after being tortured and that their lives were in danger. I refused, but one of them somehow managed to continue living in the UK and eventually got citizenship.

You had to give compelling reasons to get asylum. The country did not have political prisoners. Reports that there were torture chambers in Kampala euphemistically called “safe houses” had started to emerge, but they were hard to verify.

Today, things are totally different. I googled two words — “Uganda” and “torture” — when I was writing this article, and I got 6,680,000 results. There were many articles and images of Ugandans who had been tortured by security forces, which are supposed to ensure that Ugandans live safely in their country. The torture, which is inflicted mentally and physically, continues, sadly.

Which brings me to the film Bobi Wine: The people’s president. Last week, Barbie Kyagulanyi, the wife of NUP president Robert Kyagulanyi, was in London to speak about the film.

“Chris just did a good job, and we are grateful for his life,” Barbie told the audience, referring to the film’s director Christopher Sharp who has been working with a Ugandan named Moses Bwayo to document everything the world needs to know.

“Just believe me: what’s going on in Uganda is horrific, it’s really horrific,” Mr Sharp said. The film has got everything anyone needs to know about human rights violations in Uganda. It is going to be watched by many people and will leave the NRM’s human rights record in tatters.

Mr Bwayo is already seeking asylum in the US because he feared Ugandan authorities would put his life in danger over his role in the film. He was, it should be noted, once shot at by security forces.

“We still have abductions happening,” Barbie added. “They find our supporters legally elected. They get them, they take them for more than two weeks…and they never say they have them. When they come back, they have scars, they have broken skulls.”

I need to stress that these are not my words. And Barbie Kyagulanyi is not making up anything, of course.

The minister of Internal Affairs, Kahinda Otafiire, has been quoted as saying: “I have heard many complaints of people being arrested without proper investigations. I am tired of unlawful arrests and false imprisonment. When you do this, you not only break the law but also commit the crime of abuse of office because you are using your office to hurt an innocent person.”

Our government is very sensitive to criticism and certainly does not want to be known for human rights violations. But if it does not want criticism, let it do the right things. If Ugandans do not support it, it should know that it has become unpopular.

Why should it torture those who do not support it? Why do our leaders seem to think that Ugandans cannot live happily without the current government? Who told our leaders that Ugandans are dying to be led by the NRM? Is there any NRM leader who will outlive Uganda? The short answer is no.

Mr Musaazi Namiti is a journalist and former Al Jazeera digital editor in charge of the Africa desk
[email protected]  @kazbuk