PBI-Kenya calls for release of four human rights defenders arrested in front of Ugandan embassy in Nairobi ahead of election

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo from HAKI Africa.

On January 13, the Peace Brigades International-Kenya Project tweeted: “We express concern regarding the arrest of human rights defenders HAKI Africa ED Hussein Khalid, Waithera Beatrice, Yassah Musa, and Ojiro Odhiambo today and urge for their release.”

While still in detention, Khalid tweeted: “A threat to human rights and democracy anywhere is a threat to human rights and democracy everywhere.”

He adds: “Presently under arrest for calling on Kenyan government, EAC [the East African Community] and AU [the African Union] to stand with the people of Uganda and not side with atrocities being committed by Museveni’s government.”

HAKI Africa has also tweeted: “We are still strong in demanding for electoral justice and human rights in Uganda.”

Kenya News reports: “The activists made their way to the Ugandan Embassy early Wednesday morning. They intended to protest police brutality and call for free and fair elections in Uganda. They were also there to speak up against Uganda’s government’s systematic intimidation of the opposition. However, the police did not allow the activists to read their statement at Uganda House, Nairobi. The security agencies disrupted the event, lobbed teargas canisters, and arrested the four.”

Shahidi News adds: “They were being held at the Central Police Station. Shahidi News could not immediately establish the offense they had committed, if any.”

The situation in Uganda

This Thursday January 14 there will be an election in Uganda. President Yoweri Museveni, who has been the president of Uganda since 1986, is being challenged by Bobi Wine (Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu).

The Guardian has reported: “Many Ugandans have been drawn to Wine’s anti-establishment campaign message, which has come to represent the growing dissonance between elderly African autocrats and the youngest and fastest-growing populations in the world.”

That article adds: “The response by Museveni and his security agents has been brutal. Wine, his campaign team and his supporters have been repeatedly arrested, attacked and since he declared his candidacy in November. Dozens have been killed.”

Reuters has also reported: “On [January 11], Wine said soldiers raided his home in Kampala and arrested his guards while he was giving an interview to a Kenyan radio station.”

Reuters adds: “He also said a team member who works mainly as a mechanic was shot dead by the military overnight. Reuters was not immediately able to verify the claims and a military spokesman did not respond to a call seeking comment.”

An Al Jazeera reports: “Museveni has said his government shut down social media two days before the country heads to the polls, accusing Facebook and unnamed outside groups of ‘arrogance’ after the social media giant this week removed Ugandan accounts linked to his re-election campaign.”

That article further explains: “An industry insider who spoke to AFP news agency on condition of anonymity said the order was first communicated in ‘nasty and aggressive’ phone calls to the telecommunications companies on Tuesday morning. The calls made it clear the order was retaliation for Facebook deleting pro-government accounts for seeking to manipulate public debate before Thursday’s key polls.”

Following the arrest of the human rights defenders outside the Ugandan embassy in Nairobi, the Kenyan organization Defenders Coalition tweeted that it “condemns the violent dispersion of HRDs while reading a solidarity presser on the situation of democracy & human rights in Uganda.”

PBI-Canada continues to follow this situation.

Photo by IMLU.

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