Parliament yesterday passed a motion condemning the brutality meted out on Makerere University students by security officers.
The motion was tabled by the Igara West MP, Raphael Magyezi. He urged parliament to make a statement condemning acts of torture and brutality against students within university premises and those who tried to access the university.
"There are certain things that we shall debate, but there are certain things we must preserve as a parliament of this country. This is a house that safeguards the human rights of our people. My child in the hostel tonight fears of being sexually harassed. That my own child is being tortured tonight and someone tells me; Raphael wait, we can discuss this tomorrow. No! Madam, speaker let is get a clear statement out to the nation that the parliament of parliament condemns brutality, condemns the abuse of human rights and calls on the government to stop this. I want to hear the minister find in any way to justify this." said Magyezi.
Speaker of parliament, Rebecca Kadaga announced that the house will dedicate the first two hours of plenary today, Thursday to discuss the unrest at Makerere University. A peaceful strike against the 15 per cent cumulative increment that started on Tuesday last week turned violent after security responded with highhandedness and brutally arrested students right from their halls of residence. There were also reports of sexual assault and harassment against female students when the military raided Mary Stuart, a girls-only hall.
Other MPs led by the Mityana Municipality MP, Francis Zaake also informed the House that the Makerere University guild president, Julius Kateregga had been abducted by unknown security personnel on Wednesday afternoon soon after his appearance on NBS TV in Kamwokya to discuss the impasse at the university. Kateragga's whereabouts have since then remained a mystery.
Kateregga, while on the morning talk show said, among other things that President Yoweri Museveni and his wife also Education minister, Janet Museveni had been misinformed about the unrest at the university.
Butambula County MP, Muwanga Kivumbi also claimed that female students have were attacked in private hostels in Kikoni and Nakulabye among other areas with claims of sexual harassment and destruction of property in halls of residence. Yesterday security extended the brutality to hostels outside campus when it raided
"The kidnap of the guild president and the continued teargassing of girls hostels. As of this [Wednesday] afternoon, it was Aga Khan hostel and the neighbouring one that was being locked. [They] locked the gate and broke into rooms and [began] to teargas. Do you want to scatter them, do you want to kill them? That is why we ask the minister, do you know what is taking place at the university as of now. Can we have a ruling from the speaker and a directive to ask security to kindly withdraw because these are private property and they are outside campus?" said Kivumbi.
Daily Monitor reports that at least 16 students were arrested after a police raid on the students hostel in Kikoni. Kadaga asked the minister of state for Higher Education, John Chrysostom Muyingo to respond to the reports of harassment and Kateregga's disappearance.
"We’d like an update from you about where he is before we start the debate. Secondly, now we have been told that the attacks on the students are not in the university but at the hostels. Can you assure us that the children will be secure and who is actually deployed in the hostels?" Kadaga asked.
Muyingo said that he learnt of Kateregga's disappearance from the floor of the House. He promised to do whatever is possible to ensure students, both on campus and elsewhere are safe.
"Government has got the responsibility of taking care of Ugandans and their property. Rt. Hon speaker some of the information colleagues have shared this evening, I have also just received it now while am here. Madam, speaker I want to entirely agree with you that we sleep over this and am given enough time to find out what is happening and I report back tomorrow, madam speaker." Muyingo responded.
Oyam Woman MP, Santa Alum said that she was surprised that Muyingo had feigned ignorance and yet the security personnel have continued to torture citizens, in breach of the Anti-Torture Act.
"I'm so shocked that as the minister is busy presenting his statement on the floor of parliament, intimidation, the abuses are still continuing on the students." she said.
Kadaga also asked the ministries of Education, Internal Affairs and Defense to assure Makerere University students that the government will ensure that the brutality by security personnel stops with immediate effect. She asked the minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Prof Ephraim Kamuntu to ensure that his colleagues attend plenary on Thursday to respond to issues relating to the unrest at Makerere University.
"Hon Kamuntu I think you’re the senior minister here, can you ensure that the minister of Internal Affairs, the minister of Defence and the minister for security are here tomorrow [Thursday] to be part of this debate." Kadaga said.
SHAME: #Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers captured on phone video flogging, forcing half naked Makerere University students to roll on a tarmac road near the Senate building and #Freedom Square #MakerereStrike #torture #education— The Observer (@observerug) October 25, 2019
Video: Courtesy pic.twitter.com/dOxdeEC9LF
Earlier, the house received a statement from Muyingo regarding the unrest at Makerere University while Jinja East MP, Paul Mwiru and Manjiya County MP, John Baptist Nambeshe presented a joint petition from 813 students from the university and the Guild President’s Association.
The students among others want parliament to intervene in the matter, ensure management re-instates Mollie Siperia Saasiraabo, the female student who was suspended for leading the demonstration on Tuesday last week.
They also demand the resignation of Prof Barnabas Nawangwe as the vice chancellor of Makerere University. MPs are expected to comment on Muyingo's statement and the students' petition later today.
Resolving the impasse at the university became more blurred after the university became even more adamant and suspended at least nine students on Wednesday evening.
Among the suspended are Frank Bwambale a journalism student, Saasiraabo Siperia (School of Psychology) who led the female students strike on Tuesday, Rogers Mbajjo Ssebiraalo (School of Statistics and Planning), Derrick Ojambo Wabwire (East African School of Library and Information Science), David Musiri (School of Distance and Lifelong Learning), Ivan Kyeyune (School of Social Science), Seiz Mutatina (School of Business), Job Dhabona (School of Psychology) and Simon Ssenonga (School of Psychology). The university also went ahead and warned 26 other students.
The vice chancellor in a statement today said the situation at Makerere is gradually returning to normal.
"Despite the isolated demos and riots, most of the University activities continued normally although the rioters managed to disrupt a few classes. Management wishes to thank the students and lecturers who continued with normal activities despite the isolated disruptions. Management calls upon all students and staff to resume classes immediately. Security for those carrying on with their duties will be provided. Examinations will commence as planned on 18th November 2019 and there will be no extension to the semester." he said.
President Museveni this week urged the university management and students to resolve the impasse through dialogue. Daily Monitor photojournalist Alex Esagala and NTV photographer Geoffrey Twesigye were hospitalised after police fired two tear gas canisters at them as they covered the police raid in neighbouring Kikoni.
Earlier, New Vision's Lawrence Kitata was arrested and police blamed the journalists for not keeping clear of the protests even after being warned. A section of the university management bizarrely believes that journalists have been paid to tarnish Makerere in a bad light.