By Paul W Dennis
Several influential gospel artists in the country have deplored “brutal treatment” of lawmakers, journalists and civilians arrested following Arua chaos and urged authorities to prosecute the perpetrators of the alleged abuses.
Gospel artists say the detention and alleged torture of Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu also known as Bobi Wine, who denies any wrongdoing, undermines democracy and respect of human rights in the country.
Journalists were arrested and Bobi Wine’s driver shot dead in Arua last Monday, allegedly by the security forces, and the singer was the only one charged in a military court. A statement issued by the Police spokesperson, Emilian Kayima alleged he possessed illegal weapons at the time of his arrest, but his wife and others say the evidence was planted.
Bobi Wine who has in times past released songs with some of the gospel artists calling for his release, emerged as an influential figure in local politics after winning a seat in parliament last year.
In multiple by-elections recently he campaigned for opposition candidates who have emerged victorious, in the process defeating both the ruling party and established opposition parties, media reports show.
“Whatever happened to Bobi does not deserve a Ugandan or any human being no matter what party they believe in,” Multiple award winning gospel artist Wilson Bugembe told journalist.
“The boys/soldiers who did that should be brought to court. I am sure that government knows who did that. That is the only way they can get out of it – Why were they quick to shoot? Why would they do such a think as if they are not handling a fellow human being?,” he added.
“I have said it before that any party that tells you that it can single handedly liberate Uganda is a jocker … it will take more than one political party, more than one tribe, more than one religion and yes, more than one generation,” Hip Hop raper Lyrical Mycheal remarked.
On her part, singer Zabuli expressed discontentment over the silence of the Born-again Church leaders regarding the matter.
“I am not a political person but what this man is going through needs no political opinion except humanity to discern. Wrong or right, no child deserves to watch his father going through what he is being subjected to.
“No wife should be forced to explain to her children what her husband and father of her children is being subjected to. I stand as one for humanity. Where is the church of Christ in this? Why don’t we show up for humanity’s sake?” Zabuli said.
Local media reported on Tuesday that more than 45 people were rounded up in Kampala City and its outskirts as a combined force of army and police quashed protests against Bobi Wine’s detention.
Demos started in Kisekka Market, the Daily Monitor reported, and spread to Kampala Road, Namirembe Road, Nakivubo Mews, Ben Kiwanuka Street and Katwe.
This prompted a combined force of Special Forces Command (SFC), Military Police and Field Force Police (FFP) into action to the rioters using teargas, canes, batons and live bullets.
“Samanya” hit singer Levixone joined artists under their umbrella group Uganda Musicians Association (UMA) to pay Bobi Wine’s wife, Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi a visit at her home in Magere “to show solidarity and also pray for their incarcerated colleague.”
“We are with you Barbie Kyagulanyi, God will make a way for my brother,” Levixone wrote.
Exodus said, “We of whom he (MP Kyagulanyi) has utterly inspired straight from the desolates, the ghettos where it’s literally a miracle for one to stand out and become an International force to recon with.”
Exodus explained that wisdom pleads for peace and not war, “if pleading with him (President Museveni) is what is going to free our brother, honourable and friend we’ll do that without fear or favour.”
Others who joined the ‘Free Bobi Wine’ campaigned included Acapella group the Spring Gents, SoulJe, Sami-K, JK Shine among others.