“7. Functions of the Defence Forces
The functions of the Defence Forces are –
(c) to foster harmony and understanding between the defence forces and civilians” (UPDF Act 2005).
What we have seen of photos,videos and so on from Makerere University this week has been heartbreaking. Combined with the efforts of the army to console power, assault the halls of student housing on campus and done despicable acts of violence. This is soldiers in plain clothes violating students and their homes, while cracking down on their industrial action of protest against rising student fees. Therefore, we have seen insufferable levels of violence against civilians by soldiers at Makerere.
The UPDF have thrown tear-gas into rooms, raided rooms of students, raped and arrested them. They have tortured and done acts no-one should ever do. Still, they have done this on orders by the army and gotten there because the Vice-Chancellor Barnabas Nawangwe who got them to torment the students.
First I will show two statements from the last few days, than show reporting of the Idi Amin era. There been over 100 arrested, 49 students issued for release today after the Buganda Court and one confirmed dead after the last days protest at Makerere. Surely, a sign off what the government and authorities does. There also been reports of gun-shots and muffling of journalists, also road-blocks to the University. Therefore, very little information coming out from there. That’s why the verification and the total numbers after the raids, the guns, tear-gas and other violations of the University is uncertain at this point. Therefore, its fitting to show the Idi Amin era too, because there is where we are heading with this sort of mess.
Francis Zaake MP statement:
“The Guild President Kateregga Julius and other concerned parties who went to check on the detained students at Wandegeya Police Station were blocked for no good reason. As a legislator, I am also concerned about why the military has of late taken over police duties whenever citizens – or students in this case – stage peaceful protests. This is not the role originally envisaged for the army when the UPDF Act was being enacted by Parliament. Ironically, almost none of the armed men responsible for today’s brutality can ably afford to educate their son or daughter at Makerere using their meagre salary” (Saabi Marvin – ‘OPINION: With the Current Tuition Trend, Students Like Suubi Won’t Dare Carry their Metallic Suitcases to Makerere in 5 Years – MP Zaake’ 23.10.2019, CampusBee).
Prof Twinomugisha statement:
“What happened in Lumumba is reminiscent of Amin soldiers’ brutal treatment of students and lecturers. Anyone pretending that the situation is normal is like the proverbial ostrich hiding his or her head under the sand. Imagine your son or daughter in a room. Military thugs forcifully open the door, pull him or her out amidst beatings. Your daughter being raped, molested or assaulted! Ladies and gentlemen, this militarization of all institutions, including the Ivory Tower, the citadel of higher learning, must be condemned by all people of good conscience” (Prof Ben Twinomugisha – Statement, 25.10.2019).
Here we have seen statements made on what has happen during this week. Now we will go back in time to the authorities back-in-the-day, the ones that the President was supposed to liberate this students from.
Under Idi Amin:
“His statement also coincided with reports that the vice-chancellor of Uganda’s Makerere University and two other academics had been arrested, and possibly killed; and that the elimination squads of the State Research Bureau (SRB) and Public Safety Unit (psu)—whose ranks are made up mainly of Muslim members of Amin’s own tribe, the Kakwa, and other loyal “Nubians” from the west Nile area— were once again at work among the Christians of the Acholi and Langi tribes” (Stewart Sommerlad – ‘Of course Amin must go. The question is: who’ll send him?’, 07.03.1977, Maclean’s).
“Vice Chancellor Frank Kalimuzo disappeared in 1972 after provoking Amin’s wrath. In 1976, secret police shot and killed law student Paul Serwanga and dragged away the leader of a women’s dormitory, Nanziri Bukenya. Her body was found later in the countryside. Makerere students staged two major protests in 1976. The first spread into downtown Kampala and was joined by thousands of non-students. The second was confined to the campus and brutally broken up by security forces” (David Crary – ‘‘Oxford of E. Africa’ Tries to Rise Again : Uganda’s Esteemed Makerere University Crippled by Amin’s Terror, Neglect, War” 29.12.1985, LA Times).
“Kampala — President Amin addressed Makerere on March 8, 1976 over the shooting of law student Paul Sserwanga in Kampala. After the address, State Research agents and military policemen arrested three suspected student leaders of the anti-Amin demonstration staged the previous day” (Fred Guwedekko – ‘Uganda: 1976: Idi Amin becomes ‘Dr’, 05.07.1998, The Monitor).
We are still not at the point where the soldiers are killing and taking people away to unknown locations. But we have seen bad footage of situations, where the students are getting violated, where the soldiers are tormenting them at night. This is what the soldiers are doing to civilians or students, who are justified to raise their concerns over the raising prices of their fees. They have only a few small avenues to talk about their concerns and the best way to get one the radar of those in power. Is to actually with protests and marches.
Therefore, the answer of the state to do this to them. Is actually devastating, that the ones supposed to shield the Republic is hurting them. This isn’t enemies of the state, spies or murders even, these are average students or citizens who happen to study at Makerere. That is why this shows at what extent this government goes to silence dissidents. That they are torturing them and tear-gasing them.
The acts of Idi Amin has been said to be bad, but the acts under Museveni is clearly not better. He uses soldiers to address to students. That’s the sort of tyrant he is, he cannot listen or do the right thing.
What is more striking, that the UPDF are breaching parts of the UPDF Act of 2005. Which is too ensure harmony with civilians. What they have been doing this week is in breach of that and shows their intent. This isn’t how its supposed to be, but that is what they are doing. Instead they are inducing fear, intimidation and a violent crackdown, which haven’t been done there in years.
There are also unverified reports that today on the 25th October 2019, there are students who are killed by bullets. Shot dead by the soldiers on the campus today. “A few” students are the numbers, which cannot be specified, but surely that will come out. As every single student hurt by this is scorn for life. The state did this to them. The UPDF who supposed to keep them safe, made them unsafe and even took some of their lives.
They will known for the same acts as the ones the previous generation were known for overthrowing. That really says something about our time and how a liberator, became the same tyrant, as the ones he liberated the people from. Peace.
I will not step at Makerere today. I must rebel individually in protest against the vulgar, indespicable, horrendous mistreatment of students.
What happened in Lumumba is reminiscent of Amin soldiers’ brutal treatment of students and lecturers. Anyone pretending that the situation is normal is like the proverbial ostrich hiding his or her head under the sand. Imagine your son or daughter in a room.
Military thugs forcifully open the door, pull him or her out amidst beatings. Your daughter being raped, molested or assaulted! Ladies and gentlemen, this militarization of all institutions, including the Ivory Tower, the citadel of higher learning, must be condemned by all people of good conscience.
Thus, I have decided, as a matter of conscience, to stay away from the ‘torture chambers’ of Makerere University today. My heart, body and soul are bleeding. I have no mental health to teach.
Have a blessed day