The spokesperson of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces, Brig Richard Karemiire on Wednesday 22 August, posted a video of incarcerated kyadondodo East Member of Parliament, Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu alias Bobi Wine on his twitter page.
The 18 second video shows a smiling Bobi Wine dressed in a red army prison uniform, seated at a table with Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah also in the same frame. A yet to be identified person is manning the device used to record the video. This is the first time an image of Bobi Wine is available to the public since his arrest on Monday last week, on the eve of the Arua Municipality elections together with now Arua Municipality MP elect Kasiano Wadri, Paul Mwiru, Mukasa Mbidde, Zaake Francis and 33 others that social media has since tagged the #Arua33.
Bobi Wine’s driver Yasin Kawuma, unfortunately lost his life to a gunshot wound during the events of that dark Monday. The arrested politicians were arraigned in a Court Martial that sat in the Northern Ugandan town of Gulu, with the exception of Zaake, (who was later dumped at Rubaga Hospital in critical condition late in the night by unknown people) and Bobi Wine, whose separate appearance in court was closed off from the public. Only a handful of people including his wife and brother had been allowed to see him, but they were not allowed to take pictures.
They however reported that he was in a very poor physical condition due to the beatings unleashed on him by the special forces command soldiers. This sparked off public speculation, with some saying that the self proclaimed ghetto president had succumbed to injuries sustained during his brutal arrest and died. It is against this background that the army made this desperate move to calm public agitation that had culminated into sporadic demonstrations, across the country with the people demanding for proof of life and release of all those who were arrested. The worst of these demonstrations happened on Monday 20 August, when the army and police used unproportional forces and dispersed them. Several people were arrested and beaten including journalists.
The video has however been received with mixed reactions. Some are joyous to finally have proof of life of their beloved legislator, while others doubt the authenticity of the clip. The poor quality of the video also makes matters worse, with some suggesting that it is meant to cover the bruises that may be on Kyagulanyi’s body. They demand that Bobi Wine is paraded before journalists to independently report on his well-being.
Meanwhile, singer Chris Martin of British rock band Coldplay, joins a list of international celebrities, activists and politicians who have a signed an open letter to the government of Uganda, demanding for the release of all the arrested people. Others who have signed the statement include Peter Gabriel, Adam Clayton of U2, top African musicians such as Femi Kuti, Nigerian Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka and Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party in the UK.
Kyagulanyi is set to appear in Court Martial tomorrow morning in Gulu, amid tight security all across the country.
Also read: Arua – Stones to Votes