Writing in the Canadian newspaper the Globe and Mail, Geoffrey York indicates that Uganda’s recent arrest and physical abuse of opposition politician Bobi Wine is raising new questions and increasing pressure regarding the large amounts of military aid provided to the country from the United States. Excerpt below:
One of Mr. Kyagulanyi’s lawyers, Mr. Amsterdam, went much further in his denunciation of U.S. support for the Ugandan military. “We want the American taxpayer to know that the American taxpayer is funding this,” he said at a news conference with Mr. Kyagulanyi in Washington on Thursday.
“The military equipment we are supplying to Uganda is being used in a war of terror against Uganda’s citizens,” he said.
Mr. Amsterdam called for the suspension of military aid to Uganda under a law prohibiting the U.S. funding of foreign military forces that violate human rights. He also threatened to invoke other laws to seek U.S. travel restrictions on Ugandan leaders. And he said he will campaign for oil companies, banks and other foreign investors to restrict their investment in Uganda.
In Canada, the Global Affairs Department is speaking out against Ugandan human-rights abuses. “Canada is concerned by recent events, including reports of beatings of opposition members and others at the hands of Ugandan security forces,” said Amy Mills, a spokeswoman for Global Affairs Canada, in a statement to The Globe.
Chris Roberts, a political scientist at the University of Calgary, said the political deterioration in Uganda is further evidence Canada should not deploy the Hercules cargo plane to that country.
In his interview with The Globe, Mr. Kyagulanyi gave an account of the plight of dozens of his fellow Ugandan prisoners. Among those arrested and tortured after the protests last month, he said, was a woman who had just given birth through a cesarean delivery. He said she was beaten so badly by security forces that she was still bleeding when he last saw her.
“So many people have gone through this,” he said. “I’m not the first to go through this. I’m only humbled to be able to speak for the thousands of people who have gone through brutality.”