They pulled and squeezed my testicles.. BOBI WINE narrates his ordeal in the hands of Ugandan police (READ)

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...Gulu Police Station where I was forced to sign a written statement by an officer called Francis Olugo in the presence of some other officer who I later learnt is the CID head of Gulu. I can hardly recall what was contained in that statement! I was then returned to Gulu military barracks, put on a metallic bed and handcuffed on it. Very early morning, I was picked from this room and taken to another very secluded and dirty room where I was put on another bed, hand-cuffed again and injected with a drug that immediately sent me into a deep sleep.

The following day I can recall that at some point, Hon. Medard Ssegona and Hon. Asuman Basalirwa came to me. My efforts to rise and speak to them didn’t yield much. The moment they saw me, they could hardly hold tears. I have a faint recollection of what they told me, but their visit was very short.

I was later carried into a hall where I saw soldiers dressed smartly. I would lie if I said I fully appreciated what was going on at that point. I was later told that I was appearing before the General Court Martial!!!

After a short while, I was again carried into a military helicopter.

When it landed, I was put into a vehicle and driven to another place which I later found out was Makindye military barracks.

At Makindye, I was now fully alert and had a drink for the first time after two or three days. I saw doctors come in several times and they gave me all kinds of injections. At some point, I tried to object and these guys would hold my arms from behind and inject me anywhere. If I asked what drug it was, the guy would say something like, “This is diclofenac, can’t you see?” At some point, some guy came in and wanted to stitch my ear which had an open wound. I pleaded with him not to, and he relented. All the while I was spending the day and night with my hands and legs cuffed until a few days later. Thankfully although the scars are still visible, the wound on my ear healed.

It was after some time at Makindye that I was able to see my wife and my brother Eddy Yawe, who came in with some lawyers, some friends and dignitaries from the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC). I will never forget the atmosphere in that room- people started crying upon setting eyes on me. At that point, I could not sit, walk or even stand by myself. I was still swollen and spoke with great difficulty due to chest pains. My teeth were shaking and the headache was unbearable. I am thankful that the UHRC made a report which I later read. At least it captured in part, the state in which they found me. As the government agency mandated to fight human rights violations, I am eagerly waiting to see what actions they will take to ensure that no Ugandan is taken through this ever again. 

Not even President Museveni. I cannot wish what happened to me upon anyone. Not even those soldiers who violated me as if they were beasts. I remember two other things about that visit. Despite the pain I had that day, I remember forcing a smile when they told me that I had been charged with unlawful possession of firearms.

I was told that three guns had been assembled and said to have been found in my room! I could not believe that the state would torture a Ugandan so bad and then frame him with possession of guns! I did not stop thinking about that for all the days I spent at Makindye. How ruthless, how callous, how inhumane could these guys be? It was also on that day that I was told about the alleged stoning of the President’s vehicle.

The other thing I remember is this- I asked my visitors if we had won the Arua election. They told me we had won with a big margin and I thanked God. That strengthened my spirit because I knew that the people were with us, even in the kind of sufferings and indignities we were being subjected to.

I was very sad as I am today, that they murdered my brother Yasin in cold blood and did not allow me to bury him. They told me about my other comrades who were also incarcerated and I kept praying for them. (Of course every visitor had to speak to me in the presence of military personnel.) Although I was very pleased to see all visitors, when I was released, I read the comments which some of the visitors made to the press (particularly government officials). I felt sad that we have a lot of dishonest, cold people who don’t care riding on someone’s tragedy for political capital. I want to believe that we are better than that, dear Ugandans.

Anyway, while at Makindye I was briefed that I was expected in court on 23rd August, about nine days after I was taken there. Some military doctors continued to come in to inject me, wash my wounds and give me pain killers. At night on two occasions, I was put into military vehicles and driven to Kampala Imaging Centre for scans. I could not object or even ask questions. I am worried because one of the machines seemed very dangerous. As soon as I was placed into it and it was switched on, the doctors ran to a safe distance and started seeing me from a small window. It was there that the radiologist told me how one of my kidneys and back had been damaged during the assault. I was however not given any written medical report by the military.

It was clear they wanted me to appear in better shape at the next time of my court appearance and they did everything possible to achieve that. A day or two at Makindye, this guy was candid. He told me it was in my interest to eat well, take in all the medicine and look better by 23rd or else they would not allow the press to see me and I would be remanded again until I was presentable enough! They even forcefully shaved my hair and beards. When I hesitated, this soldier told me, ‘gwe osaaga’ (You are kidding). Two of them held my hands from behind and shaved me by force. At some point, they insisted I must wear a suit for my next appearance before the court martial and asked me to tell my wife to bring me one. I also insisted that I did not have it. At another point I hesitated to allow some eye drops for my right eye which was very red and swollen. 

I always wanted to know what drugs I was being given. These guys held my arms from behind and one of them literally poured the entire bottle into my eye! Later, the military doctor also provided me with a crutch to aid me in walking. At that point, I was able to stand up, although with difficulty. When you hear all this you may think that all our soldiers are brutal. Far from that, most of them are wonderful people. There are many I interacted with during this ordeal who were extremely professional and sympathetic. It was hard to comprehend how people serving the same force, putting on the same uniform could be very different in appreciation and approach to a citizen of Uganda.

When I was taken back to Gulu on 23rd, I was very happy to see the people who came to court including family members, comrades in the struggle and lawyers. I cannot explain how I felt when the lawyer for the army said that charges of unlawful possession of firearms had been dropped. I did not feel vindicated. I was not excited. I was not moved. I just cannot explain how I felt. I just remembered what these people had done to me and tears came to my eyes. Shortly after, I was rearrested right in front of the courtroom and taken to Gulu prison. At the military prison, I was wearing a red uniform – this time, I was given a yellow one.

Friends, you cannot believe that you can be happy to be in prison but that day I was. I was very happy to leave solitary military confinement and meet up with colleagues who were being held at the Gulu prison. That night I was taken to Lachor hospital in Gulu- other tests and scans were conducted. At that point I was feeling better, especially psychologically since I had reunited with my comrades in the struggle.

Later that night the prison authorities decided to take me into the sickbay as opposed to staying with the other comrades. The other comrades led by Hon. Wadri protested. I could hear them bang the doors of their cell. The following day I was allowed to stay with them. 

The following day I was allowed to stay with them. This is when I interacted with the other 32 colleagues who had been arrested in the Arua fracas. Being in the same prison ward with Hon. Gerald Karuhanga, Hon. Paul Mwiru, Hon. Kassiano Wadri, Hon. Mike Mabike, John Mary Sebuufu and many other comrades made it feel like a boarding school. It was not a very happy reunion though. Because of the torture some of our comrades had been permanently injured. I cannot forget the pain which Shaban Atiku was going through. He spent every day and night groaning. The doctors had told him he would never walk again because his back had been permanently broken. Sadly, the world may never know him, but he will never go out of my mind. He would later collapse during a court session at Gulu. When I later met the women who were brutalised, it was very painful to see them and listen to their stories.

Many times we joked about the possibility of being hanged if the regime decided to give us the maximum penalty of the offence we had been charged with! This got many of our comrades silent.

Away from these sad moments, the overall prison leader had a box guitar in the ward and together we sang songs of freedom all night. This was the routine every night until we appeared before the Gulu High Court a few days later, for our bail hearing.

My next communication will be a vote of thanks to the world for the overwhelming support and comradeship. I will also talk about what I think we must do together to continue this struggle for liberty and freedom.

I am glad that authorities finally have bowed to your pressure and #HonZaake has been given bond to travel for urgent specialised treatment and I join the world to demand authorities to #FreeEddyMutwe and other political prisoners. WE SHALL OVERCOME.

The Kenyan DAILY POST

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