I FEAR RETURNING HOME M7 P’PLE TO TORTURE ME AGAIN, BOBI WINE TELLS AL-JAZEERA REPORTER
By Wafula Malik
When Al-Jazeera journalist Andy Gallacher asked him during the 30 minute interview segment called “Talk to Al-Jazeera” whether he fears what awaits him back home in Uganda, Bobi Wine Kyagulanyi Sentamu was unpretentious in his answer. “Yes I will be honest with you I’m fearful to return home because what awaits me won’t be different from what I have experienced before.” He added: “Even after Arua and after being in the military detention, they tortured me again as I tried to travel here to the United States for medical treatment. I’m no doubt fearing for the worst as I return home because I’m a human being as well and there is no reason to think they are going to act differently.” Bobi Wine said even when he has fears and premonition regarding the torturous beatings that await him, where he has reached he can’t look back having been emboldened by previous torture incidents. “I’m ready for anything if my death is the price to pay for my country to get freedom, I’m ready for it. I want to be remembered as a young man who died for a better Uganda. Yes there are clear risks to returning home but I can’t be imprisoned by my fears anymore. I will return to Uganda because I have no choice. I have no other place to call home,” said Bobi Wine who often referred to death clearly implying his political martyrdom was imminent. Bobi Wine said he was prepared for anything if his political martyrdom would bring freedom and ensure torture victims like Night Asara & Sauda Madala (he repeatedly referred to these two female strugglers with whom he was arrested in Arua) get the chance to live in a better Uganda. He defined a better Uganda as one where freedom of expression will flourish as opposed to today when “people are criminalized for merely holding dissenting views.” Mr. Wine separately appeared on two Al-Jazeera prime interview platforms namely the “Talk to Al-Jazeera” interview segment and The Stream where he featured along with Ag. Information Minister Chris Baryomunsi. The moderator tasked Baryomunsi to tell the world whether Bobi Wine wouldn’t be harmed on return to Uganda. The outspoken minister from Kanungu, who kept saying the network wasn’t good and was therefore unable to properly follow Bobi’s submissions, said “My Honorable colleague is free to return home and nothing will happen to him.” Baryomunsi explained that the Ugandan state had nothing against Bobi Wine except requiring and expecting him to respond to his bail conditions and continue being available to go through the treason trial. The Stream female moderators, who were fondly hosting Bobi Wine for the 4th time in less than one year, took no prisoners in the way they addressed Baryomunsi. They were very harsh to him and contradicted every point he made dismissing him as a very untruthful minister. They kept cutting him short each time he tried to counter utterances made by Bobi Wine who had the advantage of speaking directly from the Al-Jazeera studio. In the end, the grumbling Baryomunsi was cut off to avoid wasting time on what the moderator called network failure. Bobi Wine responded to Baryomunsi’s re-assurances as mere rhetoric insisting he had no doubt more torture, and possibly death, was all that awaits him back home in Kampala. He vowed to name SFC officials behind his torture in Arua and repeated earlier utterances that the bullet that killed his driver Yasin Kawuma’s was aimed at him except that he had moved out of the vehicle. Mr. Wine maintained he was likely going to be bumped off but never gave details. He only kept saying it’s the price he was prepared to pay. He also explained why he is spilling lots of torture-related beans in the US as opposed to giving all that information to the Ugandan Police as Hon. Baryomunsi was demanding. He said it would be futile to expect much from the very government and police force that tortured him in the first place, to reprimand perpetrators. He said the Ugandan security agencies are only deployed to brutalize political opponents of the government and not protecting young people like him especially those whose political views are divergent to those of the NRM.
WHY SHAME UGANDA;
Mr. Wine said he resorted to speaking on global platforms like Al-Jazeera whenever he gets a chance because it’s the only way he can speak out for the voiceless like Sauda and Asara whose plight he said can never be known unless he speaks out for them. He said internationalizing the Ugandan people’s cause against torture and bad governance, characterized by absence of freedom, was very important because it’s the only way “I can appeal to the American tax payers.” He said it’s important for “them to know that even the gun that killed my driver Yasin Kawuma, who was mistaken to be me, was an American gun bought using your taxes.” He said he has no regret for demanding that the American government reviews its relationship with the GoU including halting the $800m they annually give in military assistance. “I have met many US leaders and I’m here to meet many others trying to impress it on them that we value your relationship with us but it should be between Uganda and the US and not Museveni as an individual,” he said adding that the Ugandan people are very grateful for the assistance the Americans continue giving in the war against HIV-Aids. Mr. Wine, who some critics say has had his wanting speech credential globally exposed because he was never prepared for such a big platform, urged his youthful supporters back home to brace themselves for harder times head because in his estimation, the political situation in Uganda will worsen first before it gets better. He said even when the anticipation for risk including political martyrdom is very high, he can’t look back because he is partly inspired by President Museveni’s own story and experience because he resisted political obscurantism and despotism “when he was around my age [36 years].” Bobi Wine’s frequent message to People Power adherents was that “it’s now or never.” He said he acknowledges President Museveni is militarily still very strong but he is hopeful there will be victory with or without him in the picture “because there is nothing you are going to use to stop the millions of young people who are determined and yawning for freedom.” The Al-Jazeera interviewer challenged him on what he intends to do to alleviate economic suffering of the people including youth unemployment in case he becomes President tomorrow and Bobi Wine was dismissive in his answer. “Let’s proceed this way; first things first is now my way. Those other things will be next the moment the people of Uganda win back their freedom,” is all he said insisting it’s not yet time to discuss how he intends to solve the Ugandans bread and butter issues. Bobi Wine was cagey on whether he wants to be President or not. “It’s not about me but a better Uganda,” he kept saying. The moderator also asked him for assurances that he will govern differently from Mr. Museveni whom he referred to very contemptuously and Bobi Wine eloquently said: “This is where People Power comes in. We are in a struggle to empower our citizens. Once they are strengthened to know their power, there is no way whoever governs next will become a tyrant like we have now because the people will have power to meaningfully vote and determine their destiny.” Before losing The Stream signal and going off completely, Baryomunsi laughed at Bobi Wine saying he felt sorry for him to be joining the opposition well knowing “they will never get President out through the vote because he has been defeating them all the time.”