He wants politicians arrested decently
The Inspector General of Police, Maj Gen Kale Kayihura, has banned the use of tear gas in dispersing crowds in the ongoing ‘Walk to Work’ and ‘Walk to Pray’ campaign by opposition activists, The Observer can exclusively reveal.
Kayihura, also wants arrests of opposition politicians participating in the campaign to be carried out decently, “even if they (police) are provoked”.
Our sources have told us an angry Kayihura gave the directives during a meeting with Division Police Commanders, who have been involved in quelling the protests.
“He was upset and angry about the conduct of the whole operation,” said a source with intimate information about the meeting that took place in Naguru on Tuesday, April 19.
The Observer has learnt that Kayihura gave the directives after getting reports of what transpired in most parts where protests were crushed on Monday, April 18, especially in Kasangati, where FDC president, Dr Kizza Besigye, was arrested in a violent manner, and in the full glare of the media.
A source who attended the meeting told The Observer that Kayihura was told that the firing of bullets and tear gas was unnecessary in some cases, including Kasangati incident.
“People in Kasangati didn’t pose any threat. They were just onlookers,” Kayihura was reportedly told. He was also told that police officers who have been firing bullets and spraying tear gas “were cowards who just wanted to show off”.
The Observer has reported in this issue that the police is investigating its officers for possible misconduct in quelling ‘Walk to Work’ campaigners. Our report shows that police officers in Kasangati defied their commanders’ directives to stop firing bullets and spraying tear gas.
Since the start of the riots two weeks ago, the press and television have been awash with pictures of people, including toddlers less than a year old, who suffocated due to tear gas. The police have also been in the spotlight for spraying tear gas in Kasangati health centre and inside people’s houses and shops to ‘smoke’ out suspected protestors.
On Tuesday this week, the Uganda Red Cross Society issued a statement in which it said 80 people had fainted and sustained minor injuries, and 35 had become unconscious as a result of tear gas in the ongoing protests.
The statement also quotes Michael Richard Nataka, the relief agency’s Secretary General, as saying 17 people had so far sustained gunshot wounds in the protests. Four people, the statement says, “died after sustaining wounds from stray bullets, while one person broke a clavicle bone.”
It adds that 167 people sustained injuries, four of them in the head and six on the legs – cuts and fractures. Twelve were unconscious after sustaining serious injuries and eight suffered headaches.
It remains to be seen what effect the ban on the use of tear gas will have on demonstrators and the campaign as a whole.
Sources that attended the meeting said Kayihura wants police to use batons and shields.
“He was very upset that police is not using shields, which all civilized countries use,” a source said.
Kayihura also ordered the police to arrest politicians decently.
“He ordered them (DPCs) to handle [opposition] politicians with respect. This idea of throwing people onto pickups doesn’t work,” our source said.
The most prominent victim of police brutality during the protests has been Besigye, who, on Monday, was cruelly bundled onto a police pickup truck even after he had previously been injured and his arm was wrapped in bandages.
Police spokeswoman, Judith Nabakooba, declined to comment on Kayihura’s directives. “I wasn’t in that meeting and I haven’t been briefed,” she said, referring us to Grace Turyagumanawe, the Kampala Extra Police Commander.
Turyagumanawe also declined to comment and, instead, referred us back to Nabakooba and Kayihura. “Why don’t you talk to the IGP or Nabakooba?” he said, before hanging up.
Efforts to reach Kayihura were fruitless as his telephone was switched off.
|< Prev||Next >|