Alternative to tear gas? The law enforcers used truncheons and other weapons to clobber Dr Besigye’s followers.
Police officers, for the second day in a row, brutally beat up supporters of Opposition leader, Dr Kizza Besigye, who gathered to welcome him on his way to Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party headquarters in Kampala.
The officers commanded by Kampala Metropolitan Police South Regional commander Andrew Kaggwa, used truncheons to clobber Dr Besigye’s followers, who were dancing and singing at the sight of the former presidential candidate, who has been in prison for the last two months.
Mr Kagwa personally had his club and participated in the operation.
Dr Besigye was on Tuesday released on bail by the High Court pending trial of his treason case.
The worst incident was at a junction from Busabala Road to Najjanakumbi off Entebbe Road. Here, police surrounded Dr Besigye’s supporters and the beating ensued.
Among those encircled were boda boda cyclists, who fell in a pack, hastily abandoned their motorcycles and ran for dear life as the policemen unleashed their crude weapons. The boda boda cyclists screamed as the beatings rained from all directions.
Police officers led by Geoffrey Kaheebwa, the deputy RPC Kampala South, also beat up and dispersed people who had gathered on the island that divides Entebbe Road to wave at Dr Besigye as he made his way to the party headquarters.
Similar incidents of police and plain-clothed operatives beating unarmed supporters of Dr Besigye played out on Tuesday on his way home shortly after being released from prison.
In the Tuesday incident, police officers and other operatives travelling on police patrol cars used long sticks and electricity cables to beat Dr Besigye’s supporters, who lined up right from Ternan Avenue near State House Nakasero, along Gayaza Road up to Kasangati in Wakiso District.
On April 12, masked goons sprayed pepper and beat up boda boda cyclists and onlookers on Kampala Road. Dr Besigye was in Crane Bank at the time and the people had gathered to see him.
On May 11, a day to President Museveni’s swearing-in, police and the military beat up people, including journalists using fists and batons in downtown Kampala shortly after arresting Dr Besigye.
Addressing a media briefing at FDC party headquarters shortly after, Dr Besigye said being brutalised was one of the prices Ugandans have to pay to get their “freedoms” and “rights” back.
“You cannot just go and talk out of a dictatorship; you have to struggle against the dictatorship until a point when it is so weak,” he said. He said the majority of servicemen within the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and police do not support what is going on in the country, stating that this is propagated by a cartel of “criminal” individuals, “who unfortunately issue policy.”
On Tuesday, Dr Besigye accused Inspector Genral of Police Kale Kayihura of heading the kifeesi, a notorious criminal group within the Force.
“The institution of the police must be a different institution. Of course, those criminal elements in the police unfortunately are the ones who make policy for the police today and execute it but the greatest majority of our policemen are very unhappy with what is going on,” Dr Besigye said yesterday.
In November 2015, President Museveni said he would summon the police command over the increasing police brutality.
“Why should a police officer beat up a civilian? Even barking at a civilian is not good. If a civilian becomes violent, handcuff him. Beating civilians is unacceptable to NRM. That behaviour belongs to a different era,” President Museveni was quoted by the government owned newspaper, New Vision, as saying.
In an interview with Daily Monitor, Dr Livingstone Sewanyana, the executive director of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI), said police’s actions were characteristic of a country at crossroads where hardly anyone cares about the dignity of the citizens.
“They are symptomatic of a growing culture of impunity. What we are witnessing is an emerging police state where police has become an instrument of oppression and repression. The primary role of the police has become one - to preserve the regime,” Mr Sewanyana said.
Meanwhile, Uganda Law Society (ULS) is also investigating the incidents. ULS president Francis Gimara said the society is “documenting some incidents and we will issue a statement tomorrow (today)”.
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