Uganda charges, jails academic for insulting the president

Trevor Jackson
April 13, 2017

Amnesty International has called for the immediate release of regime critic Dr.Stella Nyanzi who was arrested for criticizing the President and the First Lady on Facebook.

Over the past two months, Nyanzi has, in several colorfully worded Facebook posts slammed both president Museveni and his wife Janet, who doubles as Uganda's minister of education.

But the causes for which she has chose to sacrifice herself, including her defense of the rights of the African Girl-Child, and the symbolism she is now assuming as a liberation icon may be what Ugandans have been waiting for before they could decide to massively join the on-going struggle for a better Uganda. She launched a crowdfunding campaign to provide the pads herself.

Stella Nyanzi from the Makerere University was arrested on Friday last week and appeared before a court on Monday where charges were read against her. "One is cyber harassment, the other one is for offensive communication", a police official confirmed after her arrest. "She transmitted over the internet to disturb or attempted to disturb the peace, quiet or right of privacy of President Museveni with no goal of legitimate communication".

Dr. Nyanzi and the rest of the world now discover that Gen. Museveni who has exercised absolute power for 31 years has also reserved the use of "vulgarity" only for himself in Uganda. Uganda's police nonetheless arrested her on Friday (Apr.9).

The Makerere researcher will return to court on April 25 to apply for bail. Arguments over the mental application, which the government premised on a 1938 colonial era law, took all afternoon. Responding to the government claim to have scrapped the state tax on the menstrual napkins, which she denies, she ripped into the President, calling him "a pair of buttocks" which quickly went viral. She however eventually took plea, pleading not guilty. Outside courtroom, Nicholas Opiyo, one of her lawyers added, "the act of the state resorting to a 1938 law is an act of desperation".

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"Uganda allows much greater freedom of expression than most of its neighbors but the government is particularly thin-skinned on sexuality issues", he told Newsweek.

Over the years, the Ugandan public has received Nyanzi's LGBTQ activism, done through both her Facebook page and scholarly research, with negativity.

Her politically-charged and loquacious or verbose postings havepricked the bottoms of Gen. Museveni and his wife Janet Museveni, like the sharp thorns of the attractive Lycium flower plant judging by how the state has unleashed its wrath against her. Some Ugandan has called her approach "radical rudeness".

"The state should stop wasting resources on pointless and politically-motivated prosecutions, immediately drop all charges against her and release her unconditionally".

"Dr. Nyanzi is within her constitutional rights and we are for an all-out legal battle with the state to defend her rights".

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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