US subtle warnings… diplomacy reigns supreme as US supports the African Union events this past month..
By Melanie Nathan, February 02, 2012
US Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns has concluded his week-long visit to Africa in Ethiopia, venue of the 18th African Union Summit, the US State Department said in a statement obtained by PANA here Tuesday.
The US Deputy Secretary of State, William Burns also held talks with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni this week on issues such as regional security, human rights and governance.
According to a pre-talk release “In Uganda, deputy Secretary Burns’ discussions with President Museveni and members of Uganda’s civil society will highlight the strength of the bilateral partnership on a range of issues, including regional security and on helping Uganda strengthen its commitment to good governance and respect for human rights.”
Burns is on a four nation Africa tour. The talks have also focused on the state of human rights violation in Uganda.
Recently the United States warned the Ugandan Museveni regime to cease violation of human rights particularly the torture of opposition politicians and their supporters.
For example Uganda police late last year confined FDC party leader, Dr Kizza Besigye, to his Kasangati home under colonial-era ‘preventive arrest’ legislation. It seems that when Burns told Museveni that he should ensure that his government protects the rights of all Ugandan citizens, including minority groups.
Internal Affairs Minister Hillary Onek recently publicly accused the Obama administration and UK government of being behind the walk-to-work demonstrations to instigate regime change like it happened in North Africa last year. “That allegation is simply not true,” said deputy Secretary of State, Ambassador William Burns.
He added: “Our view is that President Museveni is the democratically-elected President of this country; he has been an important partner on a range of regional security issues; we think that area of cooperation is something we wanna strengthen.”
The official stressed the need to correct what he called “flaws” of the February 18, 2011, elections during future ballots, noting, however, that the past vote was an improvement over previous ones – at least according to international observers’ reports.
Ambassador Burns, who is leading a six-man delegation of powerful Washington politicians, including Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Amb. Johnnie Carson, meets President Museveni today to discuss regional security, good governance and government’s obligation to respect of citizens’ fundamental rights. http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/-/688334/1315412/-/b1em7wz/-/
We are currently seeking information to establish whether Burns spoke to Museveni about LGBT human rights and the criminalization of homosexuality in Uganda. LGBT Ugandans are discriminated against in Uganda and criminalized under anti-homosexuality laws that prevail and possible new harsher laws which still pend passage.
Burns and his team from Uganda visited Ghana, South Africa and also attended an African Union summit in Addis Ababa,Ethiopia.
Back in May 07, 2011 I wrote this piece on a prior BLOG which I am re-posting here:
Melanie Nathan, May 06,2011-
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni the Ugandan politician has been President of Uganda since 26 January 1986. He is rapidly being entrenched in dictatorship of the Mubarak kind. Museveni was involved in the war that deposed Idi Amin Dada, ending his rule in 1979, and in the rebellion that subsequently led to the demise of the Milton Obote regime in 1985. With the notable exception of northern areas,it seemed as if Museveni has brought relative stability and economic growth to a country that has endured decades of government mismanagement, rebel activity and civil war.
The NRM came to power promising to restore security and respect for human rights. Indeed, this was part of the NRM’s ten-point program, as Museveni noted in his swearing in speech:
“The second point on our programme is security of person and property. Every person in Uganda must [have absolute] security to live wherever he wants. Any individual, any group who threatens the security of our people must be smashed without mercy. The people of Uganda should die only from natural causes which are beyond our control, but not from fellow human beings who continue to walk the length and breadth of our land.”
However now in an ironic twist – Museveni has grown into “he whom he deposed!” Challenged in a recent TV interview, it was if the President all but usurped the body of Amin – ironically while being asked what he thought of being called “another Idi Amin.” That cliche’ “caught like a deer in the headlights” cannot be resisted – when you view the posture and response of Museveni to the interviewer below.
Museveni is boldly questioned by Linus Kai Kai, host asks is “President Museveni losing the shine?” The video shows the recent events around the arrest and detention of Museveni’s Presidential Opponent Kizza Besigye Kifefe and then the bland: “How does it make you feel “when you are compared to Idi Amin Dada?”
In truth Uganda is in more turmoil than evident on the surface or exposed by mainstream media. There are reports of over 400 -700 arrests, deaths, torture.
The USA and international media has for the most part ignored the uprising now emerging in Uganda – the struggle of the opposition party trying to be heard- non-free and unfair, rigged elections – in the face of police brutality, denial of freedom of speech and the right to a quiet walk to work protest, arrests of opposition, kidnappings, torture; and secondly, the almost about to be enactment of the Anti-homosexuality bill – otherwise known as the ‘Kill the Gays Bill,’ which was heard in committee today and will continue to be heard Monday, possibly passing through a vote in parliament next week.
After being personally apprised by my sources and contacts in Uganda, I have received first hand information of torture and secret death houses being used the Museveni regime. People who are opposed to his party are being kidnapped and brutally tortured.
My straight friend, whose name cannot be mentioned for safety purposes, peacefully opposed Museveni, simply by running for an office, was kidnapped, tortured and released, only after being injected with a slow death causing poison. There will be no dead bodies in torture houses. “The people will die on the streets weeks after the bruises and physical signs of torture have disappeared,” he wrote me.
My Gay friends are hiding in fear of a law that could result in life in prison and perhaps death.
American and the International media and politicians cannot maintain this silence. What are we waiting for? For the Kill the Gays Bill to pass? For Museveni to poison more Ugandans in his torture houses ?
Press and Media we need to put Uganda on notice that we are watching and noticing and the US administration must condemn the brutality against the people – imploring upon Museveni that there will be international consequences.
Uganda must be told that the attempts to legislate its way out of the international Declaration of Human Rights, in the name of sovereignty, will not justify its war against freedom of sexual orientation.
It is time for us to tie these two sets of colliding circumstances together – into one awareness and condemnation package – human rights are being infringed in a country purporting democracy; we are witnessing scapegoating and smoke screens and an emerging genocide right before our eyes.
The enactment of the anti-homosexuality Bill is repugnant and unacceptable. While at the same time the arrests, kidnapping, detention without trial, torture and killing of opposition Party members (who just happen to also not want the anti-gay laws,) is the ultimate and unconscionable doings of an out of control dictator.
Museveni’s attempts to justify the actions of his government are juxtaposed to the video scenes of the arrests. Perhaps this Ugandan President cannot escape the history of his predecessor – perhaps he is indeed now earning his “Yoweri Kaguta Idi Amin Museveni Dada!”