Kyadondo East MP Bobi Wine has been arrested in Kampala’s Kaleerwe neighborhood just two days after being released from house arrest. Facing charges over his role in convoking demonstrations against the state’s social media tax last year, Bobi Wine is now being held in a maximum-security prison in Luzira. His detention and his house arrest last week have sparked broad condemnation from the international community.
The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a bipartisan caucus in the US House of Representatives, released a statement of censure via Twitter following Bobi Wine’s April 29 arrest:
Bobi Wine is back in jail, this time for leading an unauthorized protest. We encourage the government of #Uganda to respect his right to freedom of expression and release him immediately. #freebobiwine https://t.co/G7In4h2lbY
— Human Rts Commission (@TLHumanRights) April 29, 2019
US Senator from New Jersey Bob Menendez slammed Kampala’s repressive actions as a sign of weakness on the part of the government:
Persecuting political opponents won’t make the government in #Uganda more popular.
Eroding civil liberties, attacking fundamental freedoms, and closing political space is a sign of weakness—NOT strength.
Mr. Wine must be released immediately. https://t.co/acOCpykpWk
— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) April 29, 2019
Former Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark called upon the international community to remain vigilant in the face of Bobi’s persecution:
Very distressing to see #Uganda 🇺🇬 opposition MP & popular musician #BobiWine detained again. Last year in detention he was beaten & tortured. International solidarity is vital to protect Bobi's health & life #FreeBobiWine @commonwealthsec @VanguardAfrica https://t.co/mhb0QRHN0W
— Helen Clark (@HelenClarkNZ) April 29, 2019
Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth reacted to the news by reminding the world of the torture and battery Wine suffered at the hands of the state during his last imprisonment:
In Pres Museveni's never-ending quest to silence a poplar independent politician, the Ugandan government dredges up old charges to jail @HEBobiWine yet again. Given his last severe beating, it's worrying whenever Bob Wine is taken into custody. https://t.co/IN0aROBXQ5 pic.twitter.com/4jsqoEIex5
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) April 29, 2019
US Congressman for California Brad Sherman called for Bobi Wine’s immediate release from Luzira prison:
I am deeply troubled to learn that Uganda has arrested @HEBobiwine again for holding an unauthorized protest. I've met Bobi and his family several times. The government of Uganda should release him immediately.
— Rep. Brad Sherman (@BradSherman) April 29, 2019
The US Embassy in Uganda was categorical in its condemnation following Bobi Wine’s earlier detention in Kampala:
“Today we join the many Ugandans asking why their government has recently blocked musical concerts and radio talk shows, disrupted peaceful demonstrations and rallies, and deployed heavy-handed security forces against peaceful citizens.”
“Uganda’s Constitution guarantees freedom of assembly and expression. We echo the Ugandan people in calling on the government to respect these rights. Strong leaders and states do not stifle speech – they allow their citizens to participate fully and without fear in a vibrant multi-party democracy.”
US Congresswoman for California Karen Bass called upon Kampala to cease the persecution and to respect the rule of law:
“It is troubling that a Member of Parliament would be detained for exercising his right to freedom of speech and assembly while protesting peacefully in Uganda. Mr. Wine has captured the voice of young people in Uganda and should not be detained because of his political or social beliefs. It is unacceptable to assault, harass, or teargas any citizen because of their views. I encourage the government of Uganda to adhere to the rule of law and treat all its citizens justly regardless of political affiliations.”
Former member of Catalan Parliament Alfons López Tena also brought attention to the brutality Ugandan police unleashed upon Bobi Wine’s fans while arresting him before a concert in Kampala:
Uganda Police have arrested opposition leader MP Bobi Wine after shutting down one of his concerts and firing tear gas at his fanshttps://t.co/YKPJgbSVsm
— Alfons López Tena #FBPE (@alfonslopeztena) April 22, 2019