Commonwealth Protests in Uganda

>> Thursday, November 22, 2007

Ugandan Police Clash With Anti-Commonwealth Demonstrators-AFP

November 23, 2007

KAMPALA, Uganda (AFP)--A rally by Uganda's main opposition party urging Commonwealth sanctions against the host government turned into violent clashes with police, witnesses said.

Scores of police descended onto a group of supporters of the Forum for Democratic Change after they left a zone where demonstrations are permitted, the witnesses said.

One civilian and one police officer sustained serious injuries.

The trouble erupted after a speech by FDC leader Kizza Besigye. A crowd of dozens of supporters started cheering and dancing as they filed onto a street outside the zone where demonstrations are allowed during the summit which started Friday.

"The policemen started beating me as I was walking home," said Abdul Karim, as he lay on the sidewalk covered in blood. Protestors threw rocks at a riot police squad that clubbed several men and women.

"This is nothing new, we have been living with a police force that does not respect the rights of the people," Besigye said. "With or without the Queen, this country will be free."

Uganda is hosting the biennial 53-nation Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which opened a day after Pakistan was suspended for civil rights violations under emergency rule.

"We believe that Uganda requires sanctions based on its violations," Besigye told supporters at a Kampala airstrip.

"What is happening in Pakistan also happened here. Musharraf has been asked to leave the Commonwealth, why not here?"

Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon has repeatedly denied that his organization was applying double standards and stressed that he had often raised rights and democracy concerns with President Yoweri Museveni.

Besigye said a petition was sent to the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat to secure a platform at the summit for the opposition to air its grievances.

"The Commonwealth is an increasingly irrelevant organization to us, and I'm sure, to the many poor citizens of Commonwealth states," Besigye said.

Over 100 protestors gathered under the sweltering sun to hear the opposition leader denounce Britain's Queen Elizabeth II for meeting Museveni, whom he accused of rights abuses and election rigging.

"Queen you are the head of our problems!" read one banner waved by the protestors, some also carrying pictures of tortured opposition activists and tear-gassed marches.

The FDC said the cost of hosting the summit in Uganda was twice the amount pledged by the government for relief in areas affected by devastating flooding.

An opposition demonstration charging the Commonwealth wasn't giving enough attention to impoverished communities was also staged in Kampala on Thursday, resulting in scuffles that left a handful of protestors hurt.

END) Dow Jones Newswires

Copyright (c) 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

Uganda Police Break Up Opposition Demo

November 22, 2007

KAMPALA (AFP)--Several Ugandan protesters were lightly injured Thursday when police broke up an opposition demonstration staged on the sidelines of the Commonwealth summit, witnesses and police said.

Dozens of supporters of Uganda's opposition Democratic Party marched through the streets of Kampala's Kisenyi slum, some three kilometers (two miles) away from the venue hosting the 53-state organization's biennial summit.

"We were walking peacefully, then all of a sudden a police truck appeared, followed by people in civilian clothes and military police who started chasing us and beating everybody," said Labson Kijjambu, one of the marchers.

Another demonstrator speaking to AFP from Namirembe hospital said he had sustained head injuries.

Police spokesman Simeon Nsubuga confirmed the march had turned violent but said that it was "rival political groups that fought each other."

In a statement, the Democratic Party said the organization of mostly former British colonies wasn't giving enough attention to the problems faced by the most impoverished social groups.

"The Commonwealth should move beyond being a mere advisory forum into a practical and more pro-active organization that finds solutions to the daunting challenges of the poor," it said.

A handful of demonstrators from another opposition movement - the Forum for Democratic Change - gathered in Kampala to denounce the summit, whose hosting by Uganda they argued was tantamount to condoning a dictatorship.

"The Commonwealth suspended Mugabe for human rights abuses, but it has turned a blind eye on (President Yoweri) Museveni's excesses," FDC lawmaker Betty Kamya said.

President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth in 2002 on charges of vote rigging and rights abuses. Mugabe later withdrew from the grouping in protest.

Commonwealth foreign ministers have been meeting in Kampala since Wednesday, while the heads of government summit was due to be formally opened by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II Friday.

  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
Copyright (c) 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

Picture: DP Member Samuel Muyizzi, Secretary of the Young Democrats
was rushed to the hospital after being beaten up.

Editor's Note: in an interesting reporting slant, the New Vision,
Uganda's state-sponsored newspaper, ran a story referring to
the attackers as
"hooligans," or kanyamas, vs. police. A New
Vision story describing the kanyama phenomenon follows.

Hooligans Beat Up DP Members

New Vision (Kampala)

22 November 2007
Posted to the web 23 November 2007

By Herbert Ssempogo and Eddie Ssejoba

A GANG of hooligans, commonly known as kanyamas, yesterday roughed up Democratic Party (DP) members as they tried to march to Kamwokya Market to address a rally.

The men, some of whom were chewing mairunji (khat), descended on the team near Namirembe Road enroute to Kamwyoka. The over 10 kanyamas, who emerged from Kisenyi, a slum, descended on the DP group and beat them up before a commuter taxi could whisk them away.

The secretary general of the Uganda Young Democrats (UYD), Samuel Muyizi, who was badly beaten in the scuffle, was rushed to hospital.

Kenneth Kakande, the UYD vice-chairperson was also thumped by the men who caught up with him on Martin Road.

Kayigo, who claimed to be the group's leader, said: "We do not want these people to come to our area because the Police will accuse us of causing insecurity,"

Calm was restored when Kampala Extra Police chief Edward Ochom and a Military Police team arrived at the scene.

As the men retreated, the security officers nabbed one of them and whisked him to the Central Police Station.

Who are the kanyamas? (New Vision)

Kanyamas are widely available in Kampala for hire, defence or offence.

They are becoming more common but statistics are not available as there is no regulatory body controlling them. They operate as individuals, informal groups or institutions.

For long, auctioneers and court bailiffs have hired them to implement court orders such as evictions and debt recovery. They are well remembered for muscling Teddy Cheeye, the Internal Security Organisation's Director for Economic Monitoring into a car and whisking him to prison over a debt in 2005.

Moses Kalungi, a businessman and LC3 chairperson of Makindye division, always has a kanyama watching his back. "I am a politician and a businessman. that is why I need personal security," Kalungi says.

One of the institutions with formal kanyama body guards is the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF). Famous among them is Bob Drani, who commanded the infamous 'Black Mamba' that besieged the High Court in November 2005. He was also chief body guard of Forest Whittaker, the American actor who played Idi Amin in 'The Last King of Scotland'. He also protected Rio Ferninand, the famous British footballer who visited Uganda early this year.

However, the army spokesperson, Major Felix Kulayigye, says the UPDF does not offer bodyguards privately to individuals unless a convincing reason is given to the Chief of Defence Forces. "Forest Whittaker was a guest of the Government of Uganda and that is why he had UPDF bodyguards."

Most private security firms also have heavily built men to hire out as body guards. "As long as it is not an illegal activity, we will deploy them. We will give him/her the bodyguard(s) even if they just want to walk around with them for show," says Julius Byamugisha, the Managing Director of Detail Protection Services. It costs about sh400,000 to have a kanyama from a private security firm walk around with you for a month.

However, the majority of the kanyamas are freelance and they can be found at any of the weight lifting gyms in town. These charge about sh300,000 per month.

"You just come to the gym and ask our coach for the boys. You can also approach one of the kanyamas you know and ask him to get you others," says Ivan Byekwaso, who is attached to Power House gym in Nakivubo.

The freelancers usually do not have specialised training in security and law and they are not answerable to any organisation. All they have is muscle power.

"We only coach them in body building as a sport but because many of them, especially those without academic qualifications, can only find that sort of employment, they do it," says Isaac Ssetuba, the secretary Uganda Body Builders' Association.

Some of them are army veterans, which gives them an added advantage as private bodyguards.

"If one is a veteran and he is fit, it is easier to make him a good bodyguard," says Emmanuel Luwagga, an instructor at E.L Health Club Kansanga, who also claims that he imparts other skills to his kanyamas, like tae-kwondo.

Loose canon

With every other weight lifting gym in the city churning out scores of these beefy young men, it is very hard to know how many there are.

They are not required to register with any authority and there is no mechanism to regulate them.

Simeo Nsubuga, the police spokesperson for Kampala Extra, acknowledges the need to regulate the activities of the kanyamas, but says it is not the responsibility of the Police. If they break the law, they are handled like any other citizen.

"Many times they do a good job; for example, by controlling crime at social events where they are hired. but some people have also used them for criminal activities. We need to regulate their activities by coordinating with KCC," he says. "They are under the local authorities. The gyms from which they are got are licenced by KCC," says Nsubuga.

But KCC denies any knowledge of kanyamas. "Kanyamas are not known to KCC," said Simon Muhumuza, the council's spokesperson.

While it is clear that unregulated muscle operatives are a danger to society, no one wants to take responsibility to regulate them. Gyms say they are not responsible for their trainees outside their buildings. The Police throws the baton to KCC. And KCC claims to be ignorant of their existence. So who, then, will tame the kanyamas?

Kanyama Fever Hits Kampala

New Vision (Kampala)

16 November 2007

By Lydia Namubiru and Joshua Kato

They look menacing. They are built like rocks and flout their muscles by wearing tight T-shirts or vests.

These burly young men, commonly known as kanyamas, have become a common feature in Kampala.

City Tycoon Michael Ezra landed at Namboole Stadium to find over 20 of them waiting to guard him. Singer Jose Chameleon often moves around with them.

And now the Kampala Mayor, Nasser Sebaggala, and the city's Central Division chairman, Godfrey Nyakaana, have been accused of using them to illegaly enforce their interests.

A report of the inquiry into the operations of Kampala City Council links Nyakaana, Sebaggala, deputy Resident District Commissioner Joyce Rugasa and Central Division councillor Salim Uhuru, of using the muscle vendors as a parallel, unregulated enforcement machine.

In the report, Nyakana's group of kanyamas was accused of illegally taking over public toilets, after kicking out persons who were contracted to manage the facilities. They are also implicated in the assault of council employees and interfering with their operations.

Mayor Sebaggala was linked with kanyamas operating under his youth bridgade. This group was accused of harassing vendors in Park Yard Market.

Central division councillor, Uhuru was linkedwith kanyamas who kicked out the lawful contractors of Nabagereka Primary School washing bay in Kisenyi and Sekanyolya Road washing bay. Another councillor, Lukoda, was associated with kanyamas who harassed vendors in St. Balikuddembe Market. A former councillor, Nsegumire, was linked to kanyamas who harassed pay phone operators.

Rugasa, was also associated with kanyamas operating in Park Yard Market.

Reported by Mary Nakajju Nyanzi | WBS-TV(Kampala, November 22, 2007)

Opposition parties hold a series of rallies

As the queen was visiting parliament, opposition parties were busy
holding a series of rallies. They accuse the Commonwealth for playing
double standards when handling issues in member countries.

Despite its condemnation of Kololo airstrip, opposition party FDC had
no option but make use of the venue. Although other political parties
participated in the rally, FDC as the chief organizers most condemned
Commonwealth policies in addressing challenges of member states.

Led by FDC special envoy Betty Olive Kamya, only a sizeable number of
multiparty supporters attended the rally carrying placards with various
messages most of which pointing at the failures of the common wealth.

Opposition parties have no hope in the commonwealth because they say it
failed to address the critical issues affecting the common man like
poverty and human rights. The rally will continue even though Friday
and various people and groups will be given opportunity to give
testimony of human rights abuses with the hope that the message will be
sent to the CHOGM delegates.

News | November 23, 2007



AS Queen Elizabeth II addressed Parliament yesterday morning, Police was busy fighting protestors in down town Kampala.

Police spent several hours battling members of the Democratic Party (DP) youth wing in Kisenyi for organising a procession in an unrestricted area on Namirembe Road.

The Queen arrived in Uganda on Wednesday evening to open the Chogm.

The scuffle began at around 1pm after Uganda Young Democrats (UYD) Secretary General Sam Muyizi ordered DP activists to move towards Kololo through the city centre contrary to police directives.

Kololo is the designated protest area during Chogm.

Mr Muyizi was injured in the process. He was rushed to Mulago Hospital. UYD Vice President Kenneth Kakande was also beaten up.

Kampala Extra Regional Police Commander Edward Ochom said the DP members broke the rules.

The over 500 protesters were led by DP president General John Ssebaana. The party leader, however, melted away as the police advanced.


About This Blog

The X.U.G (Xpose Uganda's Genocide) Coalition was created to bring to light the truth about Yoweri Museveni's woefully undemocratic regime and the ongoing secret genocide in northern Uganda, with the aim of the restoration of human rights and peace.

The coalition's secondary goal is to ensure accountability for reconstruction and development funds slated for war-torn N. Uganda by the US and other donors.

A crisis of epic proportions, the genocide being carried out against the Acoli for the last two decades has produced devastating consequences.

For the sake of current and future generations in Uganda, the world must recognize and end the genocide in Uganda. All Ugandans have a right to basic human rights, including the right to health, protection and education.

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