Several Ugandan journalists were arrested today while attempting to report on events unfolding after the controversial Ugandan presidential elections. The journalists went to the home of Dr. Kizza Besigye, who is under house arrest by the Museveni regime, after an election controversy where Besigye is claiming that the elections were rigged. Three journalist were arrested, falsely accused of obstructing the police in their duties. A video has emerged showing the actual arrest of one of the journalists, proving the police account of events to be a blatant lie.
Remmy Bahati, a TV reporter for NBS TV, spoke to us after she was arrested. Ms. Bahati informed us that she was manhandled, beaten and that a police officer had fondled her while she was in the police van.
The video shows the facts as folows: Ms. Bahati was standing outside on the street, with a group of about 30 other people. When she walked into the street with her microphone, followed by TV cameras a police officer asked her to move away. She immediately obliged and moved with her crew to a safe area, quite a distance away from where the police were clearing the area.
As she started her report, she was physically attacked by police officers in riot gear. She was given no warning. She continued to speak into the microphone. “Oh God, I am being arrested.” The video shows that she was in no way being provocative or unruly and she was certainly not obstructing the police. She continued, courageously, to report as she was being arrested. The video shows her being hauled away, and that she was manhandled by several officers. It was clear that the purpose was to silent the press report. She was causing no harm nor any danger.
Bahati told us that the experience was horrific. That she was only doing her job and that because she was humiliated and degraded, as well as physically abused, she is now severely traumatized. She also noted that the police lied in their statement and the video proves the journalist’s version:
” The information carried in their statement is false,” said Bahati. “It holds no iota of truth, and intends to mislead Ugandans. I was personally not driving any car. I was arrested while reporting live at the police siege at the home of Dr. Kizza Besigye for the 10th day. My only crime was to have the courage to report events as they unfolded in Kasangati. Instead of issuing false information and what caused my arrest, the Uganda Police Force should issue a written apology. I was manhandled, fondled inside that van and beaten by huge men.”
Contrary to the police statement, the video will show that in no way was Ms. Bahati obstructing the police. Quite the contrary, she obeyed orders and went to an area that was many meters away fro where the police were staged. The police sought her out and attacked her for no reason, other than to shut her up!
And indeed courage it was. If ever there was a hero journalist who elucidated the cowardice of an oppressive regime, obviously attempting to hide truth from Ugandans and the world, it is Remmy Bahati.
The false police statement reads in part:
“The Ugandan police force has today 1st March 2016 arrested three (3) people for obstructing Police Officers on duty disobeying lawful orders given to them by the Kasangati Division Police Commander Superintendentof Police Kawalya James. The guidance order was to park their cars at the parking area. Police had gazetted for parking. Some members of the visiting group of about thirty five (35) people complied and parked their vehicles while others objected, necessitating their arrest. Those arrested are: Semijja Ismail, Remmy Bahati, (journalist) and Ingrid Turinawe.”
Bahati, released without charges, is extremely concerned for her safety.
Here is the Video proving her story and that the police lied – See the Video that says Bahati Remmy Arrest:
Many are expressing outrage at the suppression of information, at the oppression of the press and the brutal and reprehensible treatment of revered and professional journalists. This is a shameful day – when the Ugandan government chose to rob Ugandan journalists of their dignity.
Dr. Besigye, in the eyes of many Ugandans, is being hailed the true President elect, while Yoweri Museveni, who stands accused in the court of public opinion, of election rigging, oppressive tactics and fraud, has proclaimed victory. Museveni, considered by many as a oppressive dictator, now claims another term after 30th years in power, and is ensuring that any controversy around his election is stamped out, through the brutal tactics of his police force.
This is not new to the people of Uganda, as on the very day of elections the Ugandan government shut down all social media, under threat of arrest for treason, if anyone disobeyed. The United States has accepted the election results as valid and continues to align itself with the Museveni regime, despite their knowledge of the breached of basic human rights and democratic principles.
These pictures are awful to see- and seemingly undignified – and shown here purely so readers are able to juxtapose the brutality and cowardice of the Museveni police against the bravery of a journalist innocently doing her job in attempting to bring information to the people of Uganda.
The next series of pictures show Ms. Bahati being manhandled and led off by police to the waiting van where she was beaten and fondled by police officers.
By Melanie Nathan: [email protected]