Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, who was tortured and detained by Ugandan security agencies and later charged with treason has narrated his ordeal.
In a 3,611 word statement posted on his social media platforms, Mr Kyagulanyi – who is currently undergoing specialised treatment in the US – says he decided to give his account after reading reactions posted by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and other government officials on social media sites.
Mr Kyagulanyi, Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake, Arua Municipality MP Kassiano Wadri, and other political activists, were embroiled in a spat with security agents on the last day of by-election campaigns for the Arua Municipality seat last month.
Thirty-three people, including Mr Kyagulanyi and Mr Wadri, have since been charged with treason following allegations of stoning the President’s motorcade in the Arua fracas.
Mr Museveni had gone to canvass voters for his National Resistance Movement party candidate, Ms Nusura Tiperu.
“They wrapped me in a thick piece of cloth and bundled me into a vehicle. Those guys did to me unspeakable things in that vehicle!
“They pulled my manhood and squeezed my testicles while punching me with objects I didn’t see,” part of Mr Kyagulanyi’s statement reads.
Mr Kyagulanyi’s driver Yasin Kawuma was shot dead in the chaos.
Supporters of Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, celebrate outside his recording studios in Kampala on August 27, 2018 to the news of his release from detention. PHOTO | ISAAC KASAMANI | AFP
President Museveni said Mr Zaake had escaped from police custody, days after authorities at Lubaga Hospital in Kampala said Mr Zaake had been dropped at the facility by unidentified people.
BOBI WINE’S STATEMENT
Fellow Ugandans, friends and well-wishers from around the world,
I am sorry I have taken a bit long to write to you about the trials and tribulations for which you all stood by me.
It’s been tough days as I recover from the physical and mental trauma I endured. I am overwhelmed by your support and words of encouragement.
I cannot repay you in any other way except sticking to those values which bind all of us together: justice, equality and human dignity.
I will be communicating more in the coming days and where possible send my appreciation to the different individuals and organisations.
In this post however I want to recount what exactly happened to me.
I am very grateful to my wife Barbie and my lawyers who narrated to the world these events. But I also wanted to tell this sad story personally.
I felt more compelled to speak out after reading the many posts written by President Museveni and other government officials about what happened.
I read the things they were saying while I was in detention, and found them absurd to say the least.
I was shocked at how they tried to downplay the atrocities committed by security agencies against innocent citizens. So let me set the record straight.
Residents of Kamwokya in Kampala on August 27, 2018 stand in solidarity with MP Robert Kyagulanyi. PHOTO | ISAAC KASAMANI | AFP
It was August 13 and it was the last day of campaigns in the Arua Municipality by-election. As always we had a great campaign day.
As I left the rally, I was convinced that our candidate – Hon Kassiano Wadri – would win the election.
So we moved from the rally at about 5:30pm and the people followed us, singing songs of freedom and chanting “People Power, Our Power”.
Together with Hon Wadri and a few other leaders, we parted with the multitude; bade them farewell and went into Royal Hotel where Hon Wadri was staying.
We watched the 7:00pm news from the hotel lobby as we took tea and took stock of the day’s events.
It was of course very exciting to watch that day’s news.
The anchor said we were clearly ahead of the other candidates and the television relayed images of the massive rally and procession we had had on that day.
Shortly after I decided to move to Pacific Hotel where I was staying so as to rest after the very busy day.
It was at that point that I sat in my Toyota Tundra vehicle in the co-driver’s seat. The gentleman who was driving the vehicle that day is one of our drivers (not Yasin).
He moved out of the vehicle to call other team members who were supposed to drive with us.
YASIN KAWUMA’S DEATH
He took a bit long and I moved into my other vehicle (a land cruiser), which was right next to the Tundra and whose driver was already in his seat.
We immediately set off for Pacific Hotel. I did not even see what happened after or how late Yasin ended up on my seat in the Tundra. For clarity, he had been driving another vehicle that day.
I had started taking the stairs to my room when this driver came running to say that Yasin Kawuma had been shot.
Protesters set a bonfire in Kampala, Uganda, on August 20, 2018 demanding the release of politician Robert Kyagulanyi. PHOTO | AFP
I could not believe it. I asked him where he was and he told me they were parked outside the hotel.
We paced down and I saw with my own eyes my friend and comrade Yasin giving way as he bled profusely.
I quickly asked a team member to take him to hospital and another to call the police.
We had not stepped away from that place when angry looking SFC soldiers came, beating up everyone they could see.
CRYING FOR HELP
As soon as they saw me, they charged saying “there he is” in Swahili. So many bullets were being fired and everyone scampered for safety.
I also ran into the hotel with a throng of people who had gathered around. Inside the hotel, I entered a random room and locked myself in.
It is at that point that my media assistant shared with me Yasin’s picture, which I tweeted because the world needed to know what was going on.
I could hear the people outside and in the hotel corridors crying for help.
I could also hear the soldiers pulling these helpless people past the room in which I was, calling them all sorts of profanities while beating them mercilessly.
I stayed in the room for a long time. At some point, I heard soldiers pull some woman out of her room and asked her which room Bobi Wine had entered.
The woman wailed, saying she didn’t know and what followed were terrible beatings.
I could hear her cry and plead for help as she was being dragged down the stairs.
Up to now, that is one experience that haunts me; that I could hear a woman cry for help yet I was so vulnerable and helpless. I could not help her.
I stayed put for some hours, and I could hear the soldiers come every few minutes, banging some doors on my floor or other floors and then going away.
At different times I would sleep off, but was always rudely awakened by the banging of doors and the impatient boots that paced throughout the hotel the whole night.
In the wee hours of the morning, the soldiers started breaking doors of different hotel rooms.
Ugandan politician Robert Kyagulanyi (centre) arraigned in Gulu, northern Uganda, on August 23, 2018. He is facing treason charges. PHOTO | AFP
With rage, they broke doors and I knew they would soon come into my room. I therefore put my wallet and phone in my socks.
I also had with me some money which I had earned from a previous music show. I also put it in the socks.
A few minutes later, a soldier hit my door with an iron bar and after two or three attempts the door fell in.
We looked each other in the eye as he summoned his colleagues in Swahili. Another soldier pointed a pistol on my head and ordered me to kneel down.
ASSAULTED WITH IRON BAR
I put my hands up and just before my knees could reach the floor the soldier who broke into the room used the same iron bar to hit me.
He aimed it at my head but I blocked using my arm. The second blow came straight to my head on the side of my right eye.
He hit me with this iron bar and I fell down. In no minute, all these guys were on me – each one looking for the best place to hurt. I can’t tell how many they were but they were quite a number.
They beat me, punched me, and kicked me with their boots. No part of my body was spared.
They hit my eyes, mouth and nose. They hit my elbows and my knees. Those guys are heartless!
As they dragged me out of the room, they continued to hit me from all sides. After some time, I almost became numb.
I could only hear what they were doing from a far. My cries and pleas went unheeded.