By Robert Amsterdam
I am as proud as ever to represent Uganda’s opposition leader Bobi Wine on a pro bono basis, especially as we are watching this important East African nation face down the threat of the global pandemic.
At great personal risk and sacrifice, Bobi has invigorated the political sensibilities of Uganda’s youth and leads a peaceful and principled movement of democratic opposition seeking to challenge the inequities and abuses of President Yoweri Museveni’s 34 years (!) in power.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Museveni’s response to the virus has been a horrific continuation of his abuses of opponents and a further tightening of his grip on power. Noticing that the opposition was stepping up to help deliver food and basic supplies to people trapped in lockdown, Museveni passed a law allowing him to arrest these opposition members for “attempted murder” for food deliveries, and lock them up and presumably torture them.
Meanwhile, as Ugandans are fighting for their lives and livelihoods amid the pandemic, Museveni’s security forces took advantage of the distraction to allegedly arrest and torture opposition MP Francis Zaake, again.
In this absence of presidential leadership and in this abhorrent vacuum of empathy, members of Uganda’s opposition movement like Bobi Wine have taken it upon themselves to help protect Ugandans.
This week, France24 television interviewed Bobi this week (interview begins at 3:02) about his participation in the #dontgoviral initiative against pandemic-related disinformation and misinformation.
The initiative was launched by Unesco in partnership with the Innovation for Policy Foundation. As announced by Unesco, Bobi has leveraged his broad popularity as one of the country’s most famous pop stars, and provided an open license to his latest hit song, “Corona Virus Alert,” and encouraged other artists around the world to join in support of the #DontGoViral campaign.
Meanwhile, Bobi and other Ugandan opposition leaders wrote this week to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, denouncing Museveni’s assault on democracy and human rights in Uganda, urging a moratorium of military aid to the Museveni regime, and calling for travel bans and asset freezes on Ugandan officials responsible for human rights violations.
My message to Bobi and all the #PeoplePower movement in Uganda – keep up the good fight and count on our support always.
This article was written by Robert Amsterdam, named partner at Amsterdam & Partners LLP and an international lawyer with 35 years’ experience working on high-profile cases. Read this and other commentary from Robert Amsterdam here.