Ugandan authorities have arrested the outspoken scholar and activist Dr. Stella Nyanzi for allegedly criticizing Ugandan First Lady Janet Museveni.
The news of her arrest Friday caused outrage on social media as Ugandans accused the government of using intimidation and oppression to silence critics.
“Stella has been arrested by unknown state agents. She was picked up after the Rotary Fellowship that she addressed this evening,” someone posted on Nyanzi’s Facebook page on Friday.
Dr. Nyanzi is being accused of running an anti-government campaign on social media, where she consistently condemns Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his wife for failing to honor their campaign pledge to supply free sanitary pads to schoolgirls across the country.
‘We’re Tired of Your Lies’
Last month, the First Lady, who also serves as the minister of Education, announced that the promise to supply sanitary pads to schoolgirls had been canceled due to budgetary constraints.
Immediately after this announcement, Dr. Nyanzi started a prominent fundraising campaign dubbed #Pads4GirlsUg to raise enough money to buy sanitary pads for schoolgirls in Uganda:
Refuse the lies they are planting in state-owned newspapers to placate and derail us away from our struggle to make Museveni accountable for the futile promise and lies about sanitary pads for schoolgirls in Uganda, Dr. Nyanzi wrote on Facebook.
She also accused the First Family of violating the principles of good governance and called on Ugandans to speak out on the ills that continue to haunt the country:
I totally reject the idea that one cannot, must not, ought not and should not criticize the people responsible for abusing the rights of Ugandans and resources of Uganda through thirty-one years of increasing despotic family rule.
Cyber Harassment & Offensive Utterances
Confirming the arrest on Sunday, Ugandan Police spokesman Emilian Kayima said Dr. Nyanzi would be taken to court on Monday to answer to charges of cyber harassment and offensive communication under the Cybercrime Act of 2011.
On Monday, Dr. Nyanzi issued a statement on social media informing her supporters that she had been picked up from her house in Kyanja, Kampala, by armed military policemen and taken to the CID headquarters for interrogation:
If anything happens to me, my children, my siblings, our households or our property, the world should know who the hit men murdering citizens and intimidating 9-year-old children are. Shame!” she wrote.
Dr. Nyanzi has been a fierce critic of President Museveni who has ruled Uganda more than three decades despite calls for him to step down.
Last year, the Mother of three caused a stir on social media, after she undressed in broad daylight in protest over her unlawful eviction from her office at Makerere University.