US-based NBS TV journalist Remmy Bahati has become the latest victim of ongoing military crackdown against dissent in Uganda after her home based in Fort Portal City was raided.
“Armed plain clothed men driving a drone with no plates have stormed my 76yr old father’s house in Fort Portal City searching for ‘guns’. They didn’t find any & abducted my brother, cousin and his friend who was visiting. Their whereabouts are unknown. Help me find them” Bahati tweeted.
The Defence and Army spokesperson, Brig Gen Felix Kulayigye, only tweeted: “We are investigating.”
However, the attack has drawn concern from a wider section of the public, some of whom said it confirms the rising raids against people who are considered to be opposed to the government.
NUP president Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, said Bahati could have been targeted because of speaking out against government excesses, including human rights abuses.
“Journalist Bahati Remmy lives in the US. She’s written about the gross human rights violations in Uganda. For that, she’s been threatened. Last night, operatives raided her 76yr old father’s home in Fort Portal. They didn’t find him, so they abducted 3 people from the home,” he said.
“Apparently, they claimed to be looking for guns which they didn’t find. The three people’s whereabouts are unknown. Unless Museveni and his criminal gang are stopped, NO ONE including those who defend these acts will not taste them. All people of good will must agree it’s ENOUGH,” he added.
Bahati using her social media posts and twitter spaces has been making comments critical of the human rights situation in the country.
Bahati’s experience echoes what the Opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) party has been saying. NUP has alleged that security forces have abducted more than a dozen of its supporters, resurrecting dreaded memories of enforced disappearances of its members before, during and after last year’s presidential and general elections.
Bobi Wine, in multiple media posts, said 15 of his supporters, picked up between this month and the last one, were being held incommunicado.
Some of those arrested are Jakaana Nadduli, a son of former minister Abdul Nadduli, who was on September 6 picked up by armed men wearing what looked like UPDF uniform. The others are Teddy Nalubowa, a businesswoman, and journalist Kenneth Kavulu of Buganda Broadcasting Service (BBS) Terefayina.
The four have since been produced in military and civilian courts where they were charged with, among others, incitement to violence and being in possession of government stores (military items).
Benson Kasiime on Sunday tweeted: “Amongst the tools this govt has used to forcefully keep itself in power is ‘installing fear in the hearts of the people ‘ this is done to shut us up. But I always say “democracy has never been free, there must be a cost paid” we must never give up if we want to win.”
But Gen Jim Muhwezi, the Security minister, in an interview on Friday, denied having in their custody any NUP supporter.
He said that Uganda doesn’t have any safe houses where such suspects would be kept, describing the matter as “NUP propaganda”.
“This matter has been raised in Parliament and in my view, ably discussed. We don’t have any of them in our custody and how sure are they that it is government security agencies responsible for their disappearance?” Gen Muhwezi said.