Kyadondo East MP, Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine has warned government that his 'People Power' movement will only get stronger and no amount of harassment, torture or brutality shall cower down Ugandans demanding for change.
In an earlier interview with BBC, Bobi said now there's no turning back as the fight for freedom is a fight "we must either win or die trying." Bobi who is currently in Washington, USA for medical treatment addressed journalists at the National Press Club.
He was flanked by his international lawyer, Robert Amsterdam. Bobi said the press conference was organised against the advice of the doctors and family members but he needed to address the world about the continued harassment and torture of Ugandans.
"Ugandans have always been wanting freedom, they have always been wanting to be the masters of their destiny. They’ve always wanted to live in a country where leaders are servants and the people are the true masters. And that is what we still advocate for. We advocate for people power which indeed is our power." said Bobi.
"No amount of brutality, no amount of repression is going to cower us down. We swore to ourselves that we insist on the fight for freedom. I’m here for treatment and as soon my treatment is done, am going back home because Uganda is my home. Uganda is our home, we’ve never had and will never have another home and it is upon us to create a home that is good for us, our children and our children’s children." he added.
Bobi was arrested alongside 32 other suspects in Arua for allegedly stoning President Yoweri Museveni's vehicle on August 13. The suspects have since been charged with treason although Bobi was initially charged in a General Court Martial with illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. The charges were later dropped. The MP claims he was severely tortured during arrest by the presidential guards, Special Forces Command (SFC) and also when he was under detention.
Now, he said many of his supporters are being harassed by state operatives to force them to testify that the legislator is being funded by foreign agents. He cited some staff who work with an NGO owned by his wife Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi who were abducted recently.
Itungo runs an NGO, Caring Hearts Uganda. The NGO started in 2012 operates in slum areas with the ghetto youths on issues of HIV/Aids, drug abuse and menstrual health. There have been claims from government officials that there are foreign forces behind Bobi Wine's much-hyped People Power movement.
Government officials have also revealed that a number of NGOs are being investigated for funding and coordinating spontaneous protests that sprawled across the country following arrest following allegations that he and other suspects had been tortured.
Bobi said government agencies are forging evidence to link his People Power movement to foreign agents. During the press conference covered live by international media including Aljazeera and CNN among others, Bobi displayed his hands before the press showing signs of wounds resulting from torture. He claimed that it's a habit for Uganda security agencies to torture political opponents.
"It is a habit for the Ugandan authority to torture people. Like I said, I’m not the first person to be tortured. We have seen people who have been brutalised even worse. You have seen the Muslim clerics that have been tortured. We have seen women that have been tortured and right now we have people that are rotting in hospitals out of torture…it us a privilege for me to even be able to access specialised treatment." said Bobi.
Amsterdam argued that Museveni and not Bobi should be branded a foreign agent for serving America's interests in South Sudan and Somalia. He said Washington has kept a deaf ear on the torture inflicted on opposition politicians.
"We have to find a way to derail Museveni’s regime to descend into terror and torture of their own. Comments have been made with people saying, well because he’s got an international lawyer then somehow there’s some foreign agent…There is no foreign agent involved. There is however something to know and that is that; the Museveni regime is a foreign agent of the American military with respect to its activities in Sudan, in Somalia."
Amsterdam promised to lobby for international investigations into torture of opposition politicians in Uganda. He also revealed that the press conference was organised against doctor's advice because Bobi can't afford to keep quiet at such a critical time.
"We’re going to conduct an investigation into the deaths of other opponents of this regime…There is a long list of tragic activities which involve those who dare to speak out in Uganda. It is incredibly important for those who work with Bobi Wine to try to ensure his safety on his return to Uganda. We’re here [at presser] against medical advice because we know that every medical treatment he receives here will be negated by the treatment he receives there if they continue the ongoing [brutality]. We have to find a way to stop." said Amsterdam.
Amsterdam asked the USA government to stop funding Uganda and "launch an investigation immediately into the use US donated military equipment to torture Ugandan citizens."
It has since emerged that the US government in 2014 provided the Special Forces Command $12m in military equipment including M4s - the same type of gun soldiers quelling riots have been seen carrying according to Maria Burnett, Associate director Africa division, Human Rights Watch.
President Museveni's government is receiving unprecedented global attention and scrutiny on how it handles dissent. Bobi thanked 'the world' for standing up with Ugandans in recent weeks and asked others to stand up with the 'oppressed not the oppressor.'