On Wednesday 10 August 2016, goons were organised to beat up lawyers and other civilians under the pre-text of being ‘supporters’ of the Inspector General of Uganda Police-Gen. Edward Kalekezi Kayihura (Kale). Please do not ask me why the Police boss has supporters. I am still trying to wrap my head around it too. Why were they beating up these people you ask? Well the police boss is being sued. His force beat up people for doing nothing. And he was happy about it. So happy he went on TV and applauded everyone that wielded a stick and beat up defenseless Ugandans. People got pissed and said no sir. This is enough. They sued him and his officers for behaving badly. So Wednesday was the day Kale was supposed to appear in court. But he refused. Adamantly refused. And do not be fooled. Kale is a schooled and seasoned lawyer with a Master of Laws from the LSE. So he knew exactly what he was doing. But back to the supporters, apparently these guys were so irked by the idea that Kale could be and was being sued. So on that day, they held placards, demonstrating against the trial of their man, and with this demonstration, they beat and stoned any person and car that carried with them the agenda of prosecuting Kale. And trust Uganda police not to disappoint. They owned up the mob and said they were lawful demonstrators with permission from police to demonstrate. Sigh!
Fast forward, the Chief Justice of the country came out, guns blazing and condemned, in the strongest terms possible, this attack on the judiciary. According to him, these so-called protests were meant to intimidate the judiciary, and I agree with him. The Uganda Law Society, through its president, also joined the CJ in the condemnation, and demanded for investigations into the demonstration/raid, to find out who was behind it. Before we could let everything sink in, the Minister of Internal Affairs, the very interesting-to-look-at and sometimes forgettable General Jeje Odongo looked straight into our eyes, through our TV screens, and unabashedly said that Kale will not appear in court. He mumbled something about the difference between Kale the individual and the institutionalised position of the IGP or some other such thing. But I think the people that took the case to court know that difference. And Kale knows it too. So he knows who was sued. So this Mumbo Jumbo was lost on me. But the point was clear. Kale will not be appearing in court. This is the minister under whose ministry the Uganda Police is housed.
So we have big wigs (Chief Justice et al) saying guys let’s be serious and behave, and we have big wigs (Jeje and Kale) saying where were you when we were fighting in the bush? Where was the judiciary? Where was the rule of law? Where was human rights? So after fighting and winning you people think you can now use the institutions we’ve built with our own hands and sweat against us? Not that they said these things, but this is the war we’re fighting in this country. This is where we stand. We have a group of people that think we owe them. Uganda owes them, not one, but lifetimes of debts and favours. And this is steadily and progressively carting our beloved Pearl of Africa into an abyss. Interestingly, some people, in this our Uganda, still think we’re fine. They still see no problem with what is happening in this country. It is quite a mouth-full, but today is about Kale and his institution. So let us not let our grumblings dull their shine.
Not long ago, it was Kizza Besigye and fellow politicians complaining about police brutality. Then journalists. Then Besigye’s supporters. Then just ordinary people on the streets. Then sex workers. Then women. Then LGBTI persons. Then lawyers. Now the Chief Justice. And some people are oblivious to this all. People like the forgettable Jeje. Like Martin Luther King Jr once said, injustice any where is injustice everywhere. Humanity in Uganda is under attack. We are in a constitutional fiasco, in a human rights limbo. We cannot afford to pick sides. We cannot afford to say that is Besigye. Let him suffer. Or those are homosexuals. Let them suffer. It can be seducing, sometimes even justifiable to pick a side. But ask former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, or Kizza Besigye to tell you. Impunity knows no loyalty. It can turn on you so fast you won’t know what hit your soiled conscience. And it won’t be so kind as to give you the little silver that Judas got as a parting gift. It will cut you no slack.Our problem is that the only time most people think about injustice is when it happens to them.
But let us all be reminded of Martin Niemoller’s poem ‘First they came…’ In Uganda: First they came for Besigye, and you did not speak out because you are not Besigye. Then they came for Amama Mbabazi and other opposition politicians, and you did not speak out because you’re not an opposition politician. Then they came for journalists, and you did not speak out because you’re not a journalist. Then they came for women, and you did not speak out because you’re not a woman. Then they came for sex workers, and you did not speak out because you’re not a sex worker. Then they came for traders and pedestrians, and you did not speak out because you’re neither a trader nor a pedestrian. Then they came for LGBTI persons, and you did not speak out because you’re not LGBTI. Then they came for lawyers, and you did not speak out because you’re not a lawyer. Then they came for judges, and you did not speak out because you’re not a judge. When they do finally come for you, there will be no one left to speak for you. Every one will be broken. Every voice will be silenced. Every mouth will be sealed shut. Get off your pedestal dear human, because they are coming for you.
“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evil doers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations”-Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago.
We are in a country that has never peacefully changed presidents. We are in a country where ministers say it’s ok to disobey court. We are in a country where nothing can touch certain people. We are in a country where all of us are at war. As citizens and as human beings that love humanity and our country, it is all our inherent duty to be pissed off right now. So let’s get pissed off. Let’s lose some cool. Let’s show some anger. Let’s talk about this police brutality. For the people that fought in the bush, we thank you. But for over 30years, we have paid our debts to you, your second, third and even fourth generations. Please move on. And let us move on!
IN THE FACE OF IMPOSSIBLE ODDS, PEOPLE WHO LOVE THEIR COUNTRY CAN CHANGE IT!
Let me drop the mic…