WASHINGTON DC – Mr. Robert Amsterdam, the international legal counsel engaged by Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine has written to USA president Donald Trump asking him to take immediate action to cut off military support to Uganda and to denounce the crimes committed by President Museveni’s regime.
Mr. Amsterdam accuses Museveni administration of using military aid from US to terrorize civilians and suppress political dissent.
In a letter to President Trump dated April 25, 2019, Mr. Amsterdam says it is time for the United States to reconsider its relationship with Uganda, adding that US military support has helped President Museveni to suppress the rule of law in the country.
“A lasting peace in this troubled region of Africa can only be achieved through the free politics of a true democracy – something President Museveni will do anything to prevent,” Mr. Amsterdam told Trump adding that “it is time for the US and other Western donors to ensure that all military and non-military aid is conditional on the holding of free and fair elections.”
He noted that Uganda has elections, courts and newspapers, but these function at the mercy of a powerful network of security organs that are instrumentalized to rig votes, override the decisions of judges and elected officials, arrest journalists and close NGOs that criticize Museveni administration.
“These illegal actions fly in the face of Uganda’s constitution and its guarantees of freedom of assembly, association, peaceful demonstrations, and the right to participate in the affairs of government,” Mr. Amsterdam wrote.
Speaking at the much publicised international media conference alongside the youthful Ugandan MP Bobi Wine at the National Press Club in Washington DC in September last year, Mr. Amsterdam vowed to press for sanctions from the US government against President Museveni’s government and top Ugandan officials involved in torture.
“We want the US government to immediately suspend military funding to the Ugandan government and launch an investigation how the military equipment supplied to the Ugandan army is being used in the war of terror in torture against Ugandan citizens”.
He also said top officials involved in torture would be personally targeted in form of “travel bans” and cutting their “ability to hold assets”.
Mr. Amsrerdam who accused Mr. Museveni of operating like President Vladimir Putin and Russia said he will be meeting with congressmen and other US government officials in the state department and providing them with details of the level of brutality happening in Uganda.
“We want the American taxpayer to know what they are paying for,” Mr. Amsterdam added before dismissing claims that there’s a foreign agent behind the musician-turned parliamentary representative.
In a lengthy dossier, Mr. Amsterdam has now pointed out incidents where Police has brutally arrested opposition politicians including Bobi Wine who has been under house arrest since Easter Monday.
“Indeed, it was the actions of the Ugandan government in April 2019 that prompted us to write this letter. Ugandan police targeted our client, the hugely popular musician/Member of Parliament HE Robert Kyagulanyi AKA Bobi Wine, and his supporters, blocking his concert in Busabala – Wakiso District. In total, the government has blocked 124 concerts organised by Mr. Kyagulanyi, who uses his music to criticise government excesses” he noted a letter to Mr. Trump.
Police on Easter Monday blocked a peaceful procession and threw teargas cannisters to disperse the crowd.
In the chaos that ensued, a group of armed Police officers who had an army backup violently arrested Bobi Wine, his music promoter; Andrew Mukasa and Abbey Musinguzi, and many of his supporters.
These events, he said, illustrate the lengths that President Museveni will go to in order to retain his control over Uganda and importantly, highlight the urgent need for US attention.
Mr. Amsterdam went on to mention he litany of Museveni’s alleged transgressions –including, beating opposition figures and their supporters, voter , and land grabbing and most likely electronic vote manipulation.
“Since January 2018, over 18 people have been shot and killed and over 850 homes and properties have been burnt down by security forces in Amuru district. This appears to be one of many disguised land grab projects orchestrated by the Ugandan government throughout the country in recent years.”
He told Mr. Trump that Museveni’s Special Forces troops, wearing plain clothes, raided the floor of Parliament to prevent opposition MPs from filibustering a bill that would enable him to extend his grip on power.
In the course of the raid, he pointed out that Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze was crippled and had to be flown abroad for extensive surgery before she was then rearrested and tortured again in June, necessitating another trip abroad for surgery.
Mr. Amsterdam who last year announced that his team would investigate and expose the President Museveni’s government long history of torture and suspicious killings noted in 2016, over 150 unarmed subjects of the Rwenzururu kingdom in Western Uganda, including at least 14 children, were gunned down by security forces in broad daylight but the commander of this operation, Major Gen. Peter Elwelu, then received a promotion.
“We have made the determination that we are going to investigate the deaths, car accidents and suspicious poisoning of those who dare to speak about the government of Uganda. Bobi Wine and his colleagues can no longer be silent victims of torture and brutality,” Mr. Amsterdam said last year.
On Uganda’s operations in great lakes region, Mr. Amsterdam says whereas Mr. Museveni has received praise for hosting millions of refugees from war torn South Sudan, less has been said about Uganda’s role in prolonging and worsening that very same war.
“Recently, it has emerged that since the fighting began, the Ugandan military has been illegally funnelling weapons and other military hardware donated by the European Union and the US government into South Sudan.,” wrote adding that Mr. Museveni’s officials have looted millions of dollars donated by the international community for refugee programs.”
He noted that while some foreign aid to Uganda goes to reputable charities and supports care for people suffering from diseases such as HIV, this aid is highly vulnerable to theft and misuse
He also accuses Uganda of being in bed with North Korea including its brutal operatives silently remain inside Uganda.
He added: “In December, Chinese businessman Patrick Ho was convicted in a US court of having sent bribes of $500,000 each to Museveni and his Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa, when the latter was Chairman of the UN General Assembly. In addition to these unsavoury political relationships, Uganda is also a major smuggling route for gold, elephant tusks, pangolin scales, and other contraband.”
On why, Mr. Museveni should matter to the US, Mr. Amsterdam said the sheer scale of the atrocities committed by President Museveni’s regime and the complete absence of the rule of law in Uganda should be a high priority for the United States.
“Washington is Uganda’s largest development donor, and has given President Museveni over US$300 million in military assistance since 2012 alone,” he noted adding that when demonstrations in support of the Arua detainees broke out across Uganda, Museveni’s forces used US weapons to suppress them.”