Diplomats 'disturbed' by brutality meted out to Arua suspects

MP Zaake bearing hallmarks of torture

Foreign missions in the country are “deeply concerned” and "disturbed" by government’s brutal treatment of arrested members of parliament, journalists and citizens following clashes between opposition supporters and presidential guards in Arua district.

Over 35 people including MPs, journalists and other civilians were roundly arrested, some allegedly tortured by presidential guards and other security operatives when opposition supporters allegedly stoned President Yoweri Museveni’s motorcade in Arua district on Monday this week ahead of the Wednesday by-election. 

MPs; Robert Kyagulanyi (Kyadondo East), who has since been arraigned before a military court in Gulu and charged with illegal possession of firearms, and Francis Zaake (Mityana) are reportedly in very critical condition after they were allegedly tortured by security operatives while in detention Gulu district.

Zaake, also in worrying health condition was today dumped at the gates of Lubaga hospital by unknown people.

Kampala Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago who visited Kyagulanyi said his health condition has worsened and called on Ugandans to pray so hard for his quick recovery.  

Other suspects have also claimed they were tortured by security operatives with one female suspect reportedly now passing out blood from her private parts. Kyagulanyi has been charged with illegal possession of firearms while other suspects have been charged with treason. Kyagulanyi was remanded to Makindye military prison till August 23 while others were remanded to Gulu main prison until August 30. 

Yesterday, protests over the treatment of the MPs - particularly Bobi Wine broke out in the slums of Kamwokya, a Kampala suburb which is home to the Fire Base Crew, a group of youthful artists led by the legislator aka ‘Ghetto president’. Several youths were roundly arrested as the protests entered into a second day today, Friday.

In a joint statement issued today by the European Union and heads of missions from the Austrian, Belgium, Danish, French, Germany, Irish, Italian, Swedish, British, Norwegian and Iceland embassies, the diplomats said are “deeply concerned with events that have occurred before and after the Arua municipality by-election” won by independent candidate Kassiano Wadri. 

“The violence marring the day before the polls, the lack of accredited domestic observers, the reported brutal treatment of elected Members of the Uganda Parliament, journalists and civilians, as well as the loss of human life are very disquieting events. There is no room for repression nor violence in a modern democratic Uganda.” the statement further reads.

The statement further said the events have caused “much suffering to citizens and have damaged the global image if Uganda.”

The diplomats called on government, political parties and civil society to ensure that respect for rule of law and individual rights is swiftly and transparently addressed. Likewise the US Embassy in Uganda also in a statement issued today, said it was disturbed by the events in Arua, Kampala and Gulu.

“All of those detained have the right to humane treatment, due process, access to lawyers and to their families, and a prompt, fair, and transparent trial. Those who need medical attention should be granted immediate access to a doctor of their choice. We urge the Government to show the world that Uganda respects its constitution and the human rights of all of its citizens.”

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd