Letter: An enemy of human rights in Uganda

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The Independent Online
Sir: Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda, has been described as the 'darling of the World Bank - an eccentric - an amiable dictator'. These common perceptions, along with those presented in Richard Dowden's article (10 June), patronise the hundreds of thousands of Ugandan exiles who have been forced to flee since General Museveni took power in 1986.

Museveni has succeeded in convincing some politicians from diverse political backgrounds that he is the man who will turn Uganda's 'terrible' historical reputation around.

We recently interviewed, in the UK, the wife of a political prisoner who, along with 210 others, faces execution. She described, as do many exiled Ugandans, President Museveni's National Resistance Army regime as very subtle. 'Under Amin the soldiers would come in broad daylight and just shoot you, but these NRA soldiers are very clever. They come at night when no one will notice you disappear.'

Since the launch of Crisis Committee for Ugandan Human Rights we have been inundated with calls from concerned relatives and friends living both inside and outside the UK. Some of those returning home have been killed or seriously injured.

At a series of recent press briefings in London, President Museveni continually contradicted himself. He claimed that 'businessmen are not interested in human rights, they are interested in profit'. He went on to say: 'These human rights people don't know what they are doing. I have asked them to go and leave us alone' - 'We don't want political parties in an election, just individuals.'

On 8 May, he told supporters of the Democratic Party who had gathered in Kampala for a rally that 'they will be killed if they attend political rallies'. This is a man the West is hoping will turn Uganda's reputation around?

Without the basic human rights, freedom of association, freedom of speech, freedom to elect our representatives, Museveni's Uganda will degenerate. Instability and civil war will again be the order of the day. If Museveni's experiment backfires, as we believe it will, it could be well into the next century before anyone will again trust Uganda.

Yours sincerely,

ALFRED BANYA

Spokesperson

Crisis Committee for Ugandan

Human Rights

London, SW2

11 June

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