By Brigadier Peter Okuja – Before I highlight specific human rights abuses, it is of fundamental importance that I put the situation in Uganda in perspective.
Some Democrats, News Media and academicians have gone through contortions and gyrations in order to portray Museveni as a Democrat, a human rights observer and a believer in transparency and accountability of Government, who has even according to them, appointed an Inspector general of Government to oversee and investigate corruption. Raphael Baku who headed Research at NRM secretariat cannot in all fairness oversee corruption and human rights abuse when he deserves to be investigated himself therefore this office is a mockery of democratic and civil norms. Unfortunately, for these sycophants, Museveni’s actions and utterances do not square with their presentations. Attempts by these adulators to twist facts and the truth to obscure the monstrosity of the NRM regime have only been successful in fooling some of the people some of the time but not for the majority of Ugandans who have felt the brutality of the NRM regime and the pauperisation and impoverishment of the people.
The majority of Ugandans and some foreign democrats, without vested economic interests in Uganda are aware that Yoweri Museveni’s regime has been treated differently from the other African or even Third World Governments. The requirement for “good governance” and “multi-party democracy” trumpeted by the USA and Britain for the Third World is always used as criteria for determining whether donor money is given or not. This is not applicable to Uganda. Is this because Museveni is willing to see the soul and wealth of Africa to the highest bidder under the guise of indiscriminate privatisation and liberation of the economy or is it also because of his willingness to insult and undermine the ethos, dignity and humanity of Africans.
The concentration of power in the hands of one individual (Museveni), lack of checks and balances and the absence of independence of the judiciary, executive dominance of the so-called legislature and the failure of separation of power from each other are easily brushed aside by democrats who would otherwise be critical if this was the case in another country. The fact that Museveni is all in one, just like Field Marshall Idi Amin, Conqueror of the British Empire was, do not seem to bother Democrats who condemn any other African President who happens to hold the portfolios.
The heavy concentration of authoritarian powers in one man Museveni and the fact that these powers are constantly abused seem not to bother western democrats and international organisations, who would be intolerant if such concentrations of powers had been spotted in the hands of any other African head of state. Does silence imply consent that Museveni the autocrat exercises dictatorship responsibly? In Britain would anybody for instance have considered IRA Ceasefire a responsible ceasefire without decommissioning of Paramilitary lethal arsenal? What is more lethal than dictatorship to democracy and abuse of human rights even when practiced by the Western based Berisha in Albania?
As evidenced in the previous violent elections in Kenya, it was being fuelled and financed by Museveni; he was backing the current president (Kibaki). It will be recalled and it is in records that in 1986 Museveni gave Uganda travel documents to vulnerable unemployed Kenyan youth to travel and train in Libya by then under the leadership of a Marxist Koigiwa Wamwere they went in substantial numbers. Hitler was appeased but never quenched, he attacked Poland and more and more and the world was ablaze with the 2nd World War.
British interests in Kenya will be cynically used in Museveni’s game of blackmail until pressure is mounted on Raila Odinga to step aside and hand another territory to Museveni on golden plate if not by force again of British and American arms. But if Britain and America ever succumbs to this Museveni treachery, it will be a monumental mistake: it will be the beginning of another Afghanistan in the region and Somalia will look like a friendly match at Wembley such are the complications and stakes in the region.
I hereby request the Secretary-General of Amnesty International to approach and cause the publication of the report of the Commission of Inquiry into the death of a former Cabinet Minister and Commander of Uganda Freedom Movement (UFM), Dr. Andrew Kayiira. The Inquiry was headed by officers from London’s Scotland Yard at the invitation of the Ugandan Government. The Government has since refused to publish the report. This is abuse of human rights of the relatives, the believers in Kayiira’s freedom cause, abuse to democracy and justifies what we have always said that Museveni murdered Kayiira, what has he got to hide?
Amnesty International should further investigate the recent spate of political arrests and murders in the country. Dating back to 1997 was that of a top Democratic Party woman leader, Modest Kabalanga who was burnt to death and bottles pushed into her private parts. Her mother in her 70s was shot dead on 3rd June 1997 at Bujanje in Masindi. The suspects the Government claimed to have arrested were scapegoats. Even in Kayiira’s death, some were arrested and allegedly escaped. Where there is luck of independence between the executive, judiciary and legislature, certainly there is no justice and therefore no faith. There is no credibility and faith in the Uganda Judicial System. Investigations are cut and tailored to size to suit political circumstances: so are the post-mortems of the dead. Such is the degree of miscarriage of justice.
In the same week a former legislator, a UPC strong man, a former Board Member of Uganda Commercial Bank and a millionaire businessman, Mr. Kasajja Byakika, was murdered in cold blood at his house in Kabwangasi near Mbale. Kasajja was arranging a consortium to put a bid for Uganda Commercial Bank. At the time of his service at the Commercial Bank during Obote 11 regime, there were other figures like John Katuramu, the former Prime Minister of Toro Kingdom and also the Chairman at the time of Give and Take Forex Bureau based at Uganda House. Give and take was conglomerate of companies involved in coffee exports. Several rich Asians and senior security men were shareholders in the Give and Take Conglomerate. It is said with the backing of very powerful security officers, Give and Take wanted to put in a bid for Uganda Commercial Bank. This is not new. Museveni’s brother, Salim Saleh, has various business interests ranging from dealings in gold which is part of the reason why Museveni and his kinsmen invaded Zaire. Salim Saleh also put in a bid for Uganda grain millers in Jinja. It is alleged he threatened all other bidders until he scraped home with the purchase. He was given an unsecured loan from Nile Bank to offset the purchase. John Katuramu was Museveni’s agent on the affairs of Toro Kingdom where a bitter argument had raged between General Tinyefuza who supported kingdoms and the legitimate king of Toro, the late Highness Barigye, and President Museveni who opposed a powerful Toro Kingdom ostensibly for preservation of Western Uganda Unity under his leadership, hence the installation at the time a 4 year old boy as the Toro King.
In 1996, an old man, the father of Uganda’s former Chief Justice under Obote 11 Regime, Justice George Masika, was murdered in cold blood. George Masika at the time wanted to run for the presidency due to his popularity and strong base in Uganda People’s Congress (UPC). He was well set to beat Museveni. This case needs to be cleared in the minds of Ugandan people. The list is very long.
In view of the foregoing, I hereby appeal to all Ugandans that time has come for us to follow our brothers and sisters from Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Yemen not to let down the next generation. I believe that human rights of every citizen should be protected as enshrined in the United Nations Charter. For this reason, I would like to call upon the Members of the United Nations Family of Nations and all human rights International organisations to investigate, protect and exert pressure on the Ugandan regime to stop violating the human rights of its citizens or else face international isolation and all its attendant consequences.