Petitions and protests have become the order of the day since the arrest and detention of Ugandan musician turned member of parliament Robert Kyagulanyi, who goes by the stage name Bobi Wine.
The fierce government critic who is due to appear in court on Thursday on charges of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition has been held by the military since last week with four other MPs and dozens of others after campaigning in a by-election in Arua in the north of the country.
Dozens of influential people have signed a petition demanding the release of Bobi Wine who was reported to have been tortured in custody after his arrest following the fatal shooting of his driver.
The petitioners include legendary celebrities like Nigerian author Wole Soyinka, Beninese musician Angelique Kidjo, Sons of Fela Kuti, Femi and Seun, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin among many others.
“It’s like a re-run of Fela [Kuti]. He was often beaten for speaking out,” says Rikki Stein, the former manager for Nigerian music legend Fela Kuti and the initiator of the petition.
The petition criticized the Ugandan government forces for killing Bobi Wine’s driver, Yasin Karuma, as well as the many violent attacks and arrests made.
“We call upon the Ugandan government to ensure his full access to medical treatment, to allow a full and impartial investigation of his violent arrest and imprisonment and of the brutal killing of Yasin Kawuma, and to follow internationally recognized procedures and safeguards in proceeding with any case against him,” the petition read.
Kenyan musicians have also planned a Freedom Concert on Wednesday for the release of Bobi Wine and the 33 others arrested with him. On Thursday, they are also marching towards the Ugandan embassy in Kenya for the same cause.
Kenyan musicians to hold a #FreeBobiwine #FreeArua33 concert in Nairobi tomorrow, While a protest march towards the Ugandan embassy in Kenya has been scheduled for Thursday. pic.twitter.com/XA8sninmGo
— Samira Sawlani (@samirasawlani) August 21, 2018
Ugandans in the United States are also protesting on Wednesday in Washington DC for the release of the popular MP whose torture has been denied by the army while the president claims the report was “fake news”.
Ugandans in the DC area will be protesting recent events in the country tomorrow, starting at the World Bank at 10AM. Next stop is #Uganda‘s embassy and ending at the office of Museveni’s main lobbyist (Scribe Strategies), which has worked for the gov’t since 2015. #FreeBobiWine
— Jeffrey Smith (@Smith_JeffreyT) August 21, 2018
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is unpopular for stifling dissent and the genesis of the whole Bobi Wine arrest and attacks involves the president. The government claims stones were thrown at the convoy of the president who was in the same town as Bobi Wine to support his candidate.
Museveni’s security forces then invaded Bobi Wine’s hotel where his driver who was sitting in the front passenger seat where Bobi Wine usually sits, was shot in the head at close range and killed. This was followed by mass arrests of hotel staff, MPs, journalists and later Bobi Wine who was never heard of again after he tweeted about a suspected assassination attempt by the government.
Bobi Wine will be defended on Thursday by American lawyer Robert Amsterdam who described his client’s arrest as a “politically motivated act of repression”, he said in a statement insisting that Bobi Wine was tortured.
The popular musician’s case is one of many in different parts of Africa where citizens are politically maimed and tortured for opposing the government of the day. Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Sudan, Somaliland, Burundi, Tanzania, Egypt and many others need global movements to support the oppression of opposition forces and ensure justice prevails.