Some Kenyan MPs have joined those calling for the release of Ugandan MP and musician Robert Sentamu Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine.
Legislators Jared Okelo (Nyando), Gideon Keter (nominated) and Babu Owino (Embakasi East) criticised President Yoweri Museveni for infringing on the rights of Bobi Wine.
Speaking yesterday at Parliament Buildings, the lawmakers, who are members of the Kenya Young Parliamentarians Association (KYPA), called for the unconditional release of the Kyadondo East MP, and his colleagues who have been in custody for over a week.
Mr Kyagulanyi was arrested on August 13, in the northwestern town of Arua, on treason claims.
Later, the charges were reduced to illegal possession of firearms and ammunition at a military court in Gulu, northern Uganda.
The MP is being remanded at Makindye Military Barracks.
“An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere. Our colleague Hon Kyagulanyi should be subjected to the proper rule of the law because we believe Uganda is not a banana republic. President Museveni must respect the rule of law,” said Mr Okelo.
Mr Keter condemned the arrest and reports of torture of the MP, noting the lawmaker, described as a fearless critic of impunity, must be released without any conditions.
“As young parliamentarians from the region, if such intimidation persists we will have no choice but to mobilise youths in East African countries to resist oppression and dictatorship in Uganda,” he warmed.
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Mr Owino who is the KYPA secretary general, said the detention of the youthful MP infringes on his fundamental rights, and warned that the decision to continue holding him would anger young people in the region.
At the same time, civil society groups have threatened to take legal action against the Ugandan Government, citing acts of human rights violations including the detention of the MP and killing of his driver.
The arrest of the MP follows a clash between the ruling party and Opposition supporters in the northern part of the country.
The confrontation saw some Opposition lawmakers including Bobi Wine arrested, and his driver Yasin Kawuma shot dead by security forces.
Speaking yesterday, Law Society of Kenya Nairobi chair, Charles Kanjama, said they were in talks with Uganda’s Law Society and the East African Law Society to come up with a strategy on how they will take legal actions against the Ugandan Government.
“As LSK, we have talked to our Ugandan counterparts on how we will take legal actions against the government over the persecutions,” said Mr Kanjama.
The civil society groups also termed the arrests and violation against demonstrators as a complete disregard of international laws, and called out President Museveni for downplaying the acts of human rights violation in the country.
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“We are troubled that the Government of Uganda is willfully disregarding international laws and that President Museveni found it appropriate to belittle and downplay the veracity of the human rights violation in his statement on August 20, by justifying the use of military force terming it a way to teach a lesson to the “chronically indiscipline” Opposition leaders,” read the statement.
Kenya Human Rights Commission Executive Director George Kegoro stated the issue in Uganda should not only affect the East African community, but the continent.
“We are also calling upon Africa and the international community to intervene and put pressure to ensure that justice is served,” said Mr Kegoro.
In their demands to the Ugandan Government, the civil groups want Kyagulanyi released from military incarceration so as to seek medical care by a doctor of the family’s choosing.
They also called for a thorough investigation into the tragic death of Bobi Wine’s driver, Yasin Kawuma and demanded that people’s rights to assemble be respected as well as those of the media covering the protests.
“This is a call to action, to stand with our brothers and sisters facing persecution in Uganda,” said Kanjama.
His sentiments follow a public outcry after Bobi Wine was arrested.
The MP had been detained and allegedly tortured in an undisclosed location. He was later charged in a military court in Gulu with unlawful possession of firearms.
Ugandan security officers alleged that they found firearms in his hotel room, claims that have been refuted by the hotel management and those present on the day of his arrest.
And yesterday evening, Kenyans joined their Ugandan counterparts in demanding the release of the MP.
A concert was organised in Nairobi ahead peaceful protest at Freedom Corner today.
Activist Boniface Mwangi says he plans a peaceful protest from Freedom Corner today, to call for the release of those held in custody in Uganda for political reasons. Police said they would allow the march.