The dictator in a pose he likes reviewing the troops. Hints of another past megalomaniac?
[Speaking Truth To Power]
Robert Amsterdam, the American lawyer representing Robert Kyagulanyi, a.k.a. Bobi Wine, made a most interesting observation at today’s press conference at the National Press Club in Washington and all Western media should take note. “This vicious brutality against the 33 in Arua is not a new development,” Amsterdam said, raising his voice, “What’s new is that because of Mr. Wine’s notoriety it’s come to our attention.”
In orther words this time Western media –who have played a major role in shielding dictator Gen. Yoweri Museveni for decades by not critically reporting his numerous gross crimes– can’t ignore the brutality he unleashed on his own citizens beginning August 13. Gen. Museveni had gone to Arua to campaign for Nasuru Teperu candidate of his ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) dictatorship party for an open Parliamentary seat.
Bobi Wine and three other Members of Parliament (MP) and a former one –Gerald Karuhanga, Paul Mwiru, Francis Zaake, and Michael Mabikke, respectively– had also gone to Arua to campaign for Kasiano Wadri an opposition candidate. When Museveni saw the size of the crowd attending Wadri’s rally he knew his man would lose. This would be an open repudiation of Museveni — he could not afford to be upstaged again by Bobi Wine, a 36 year old popular musician who had just won a seat to Parliament in July 2017. What’s more, the candidates in two previous elections endorsed by Bobi Wine had defeated Museveni’s ruling party candidate.
The dictator decided to disrupt the election. His Special Forces
Command (SFC) who is no longer commanded by his son Gen. Muhoozi Kaenerugaba but still reports to him, in the words of Amsterdam “tried to assassinate Bobi WIne.” The SFC agents ended up shooting dead Yasin Kawuma, who was Bobi Wine’s driver and was seated on that day, August 13, on the front passenger seat where Bobi Wine ordinarily sits. At the press conference Bobi Wine momentarily broke down when he recalled Kawuma’s murder.
The SFC agents then unleashed mayhem, beating and arresting the MPs and the former MP and randomly beating their supporters who were at the scene, including women. Bobi Wine himself was later found in a hotel room after SFC agents went door by door breaking into each room. In a Facebook posting he described how he was was viciously beaten with an iron bar and kicked by the soldiers. Later, they subjected him to dehumanizing torture and used an object to squeeze his genitals. He then lost consciousness.
Even with this barbaric display of brutality, Wadri, who himself had been locked up, when voters finally went to the polls on August 15 in Arua, beat Museveni’s candidate by 11 points 38% to 27% with the rest of the votes going to other candidates. Ugandans had spoken loudly by rejecting the U.S.-backed dictator of 32 years.
Meanwhile Museveni had to create a ruse to coverup his viciousness. He claimed that the people arrested, including Bobi Wine, had incited their supporters to throw stones at his presidential convoy and that the rear window of one car had been smashed. Skeptics wondered how the window of a bulletproof vehicle could be smashed by a mere stone and also why no traces of glass were left at the scene. Moreover, why would a team heading to election victory want to incite turmoil?
The more important point was that even if true, on what basis could such an alleged incident be pinned on Bobi Wine, his driver and the other leaders who were not even near the scene? Did it occur to the dictator that after 32 years of failure and with unemployment over 80% that some people could on their own be motivated to throw stones, if indeed such an incident occurred? Also for the dictator to claim that people actually threw stones at his convoy is a concession; a realization that the popularity he claims to still have is gone. Of course Wadri’s victory proved that.
The Arua atrocities –more than 30 opposition supporters and voters were also arrested and beaten– would not have garnered this kind of global coverage had Bobi Wine not been one of the victims, his lawyer Amsterdam correctly observed.
Amsterdam knows why the Ugandan dictator gets away with his crimes. He said “the Museveni regime is a foreign agent of the American military with respect to his activities in Sudan and Somalia,” a reference to Uganda’s military deployments in those countries to fulfill U.S. geopolitical interests.
Amsterdam accused Museveni of launching “a war of terror against the citizens of Uganda” with U.S. weapons and said “the American taxpayer is funding this.” He added, “We’ve called on the U.S. government to immediately suspend military funding to Uganda.” Amsterdam referred to the Leahy Act, a U.S. law that bars the Pentagon and State Department from military cooperation with any country when units of its armed forces engage in human rights abuses.
Bobi Wine himself at the press conference stated that the brutality he endured at the hands of the military pales in comparison to the many other atrocities by the regime.
I have written about some of these crimes: the confinement of 90% of the population of Acholi in concentration camps from 1986 to 2006 in the northern part of Uganda leading to
deaths by planned starvation and diseases of an estimated 1 million people over that period–the crime is well documented in the film “A Brilliant Genocide”; the Buganda massacre of 40 people in 2009 when Museveni blocked His Highness the Kabaka Ronald Mutebi from visiting Kayunga; the invasion of South Sudan in December 2013, during which Uganda used cluster bombs and launched a civil war between President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar; the recruitment of the “Crime Preventers” militia and the atrocities carried out before, during and after the 2016 election with multiple attacks on opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye (who won the 2016 election but was denied office) and his supporters; the Kasese Massacre of more than 100 people, including children and women, in November 2016–Museveni later boasted of promoting Peter Elwelu, the general who commanded the attack on the unarmed civilians in an Al Jazeera interview; and, the brutal Special Forces raid on Parliament in September 2017 to shut down a filibuster of a constitutional amendment entrenching him in power for life. During the raid, operatives crippled Member of Parliament Betty Nambooze, who remains wheelchair bound to this day.
At the press conference today Amsterdam also said his firm will investigate the suspicious deaths by “poisoning” or car “accidents” of Ugandans who stood up to Gen. Museveni in the past.
It would be good if families of those who have questioned how their relatives perished cooperated with such an investigation. It’s unlikely the dictator will allow these families to exhume the bodies to obtain samples. With modern technology traces of poison can still be detected years later. Those who died under questionable circumstances include: Gen. Aronda Nyakairima; Brig. Noble Mayombo; Gen. David Kazini; Member of Parliament Cerinah Nebanda; Attorney General Francis Ayume; Lutakome Andrew Kayiira; and many others.
In addition to Museveni’s crimes listed above, the Uganda People’s Defense Forces engaged in war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo when it invaded and occupied eastern Congo from 1997 – 2005, and committed massacres and plundered resources. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) found Uganda liable and awarded Congo $10 billion, not a dime of which has been paid.
Perhaps Amsterdam’s firm can help Congo collect from Museveni’s personal assets.
The Wall Street Journal also reported on June 8, 2006 that when the International Criminal Court (ICC) opened its own investigation into the UPDF crimes in Congo, Museveni asked then U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to block the investigation.
Perhaps with his prominent Washington connections Amsterdam can get that investigation to resume. There is no statute of limitation on mass murders.
So now that coverage of the Arua brutality has opened Pandora’s Box and forced a revisit of past atrocities by what Amsterdam described as the Museveni “criminal machine” what next?
Amsterdam also revealed that his law firm would compile a list of Ugandan officials instrumental in the human rights abuses in order to have them sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act and subjected to visa bans and assets seizures.
The list would be long. It should be topped by Gen. Museveni himself for the numerous crimes he’s commissioned.
The good thing is there is no shortage of evidence. For example Museveni boasted about promoting Elwelu for the Kasese massacre.
People with evidence, including members of the regime who want to see a new Uganda created should contact lawyer Amsterdam’s firm at https://robertamsterdam.com
and provide relevant evidence about Museveni’s crimes against humanity and war crimes.