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Bobi Wine given award at US human rights conference

Bobi Wine during a live interview at France24’s popular Eyes on Africa recently. (PHOTO/file)

CHICAGO – Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine has received an award for his relentless fight against human rights abuses in the country.

He received the award on Tuesday at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition Annual Conference in Chicago, USA.

In his acceptance speech, Bobi Wine, who was accompanied by his Mityana Municipality counterpart Francis Zaake, said he was humbled by the award, which he said emboldens his fight against the dictator.

Earlier on Monday, the artiste, whose arrest and subsequent torture by security agencies following the Arua Municipality by-election in August last year attracted global condemnation, revealed that many Ugandans are languishing in jail while others have been tortured for speaking against the ruling NRM government.

“I am not speaking to you as an expert on human rights law. Far from that, I’m just an ordinary citizen of the world born and raised in the biggest slum of Uganda, the ghetto of Kamwokya. That’s where I come from. My passion to fight for freedom was indeed not born out of the classroom… It was born out of the streets, out of my experience from growing up out of the poorest of the poorest in Uganda and those are the people who face the worst human rights violations in my country Uganda…,” he said.

The legislator added that his own torture is nothing compared to what other Ugandans are going through.

“I know many of you have come to know about me out of my experience of torture, repression and abuse of my rights but the authorities in Uganda and the military in my country. While I am grateful for the attention, I must assert it that my own experience, however nasty it was, is nothing compared to what very men and women go through every day in my country,” he said.

“Many have been arrested. Many have disappeared and indeed many have had to pay the ultimate price. So while I am very lucky to be standing before you ladies and gentlemen, I must inform the world that another activist—an academic giant, a woman, Dr. Stella Nyanzi, continues to rot in jail, continues to be incarcerated, simply because she wrote a poem that criticizes President Museveni who has been president of Uganda for 33 years,” he said.

The Global Peace and Human Rights Summit in Chicago  started on June 28 and ends on July 2.

The conference, which is organized by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, has former US Vice President Joe Biden as a special guest.

 Other panelists are Momodou Jallow, an MP in Sweden; Rev. Dr. Grace Ji-Sun Kim, a Korean activist and associate professor of Theology; Daniela Gomes, a Brazilian journalist and activist; Nasir Zakaria, director of the Rohingya Culture Center in Chicago; Dr. Isabella Alexander, a human rights activist and filmmaker.

The panel is moderated by Dr. Ewa Ewa, an Illinois State lawmaker.

Rev. Jackson is a prominent human rights activist and a former U.S. presidential candidate.

The conference kicked of with a speech by Biden who is currently the front-runner for the Democrats for next year’s U.S. presidential election. Other speakers include another prominent Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg.

Bobi Wine, who is a leader of the People Power Movement, burst into global headlines last August when he and other Ugandan lawmakers were arrested, beaten and tortured while campaigning for an opposition candidate who later won an open Parliamentary seat, defeating the ruling National Resistance Movement’s candidate.

International pressure forced the Ugandan regime to release the MP, who is also the country’s best known entertainment artist, who then traveled to the U.S. for treatment. Several U.S. Senators and members of the House of Representatives subsequently released statements condemning the attacks on Kyagulanyi, other MPs, and their supporters. His driver Yasin Kawuma was shot dead during the attack last August with bullets may believe were intended for Kyagulanyi. On January 8, 2019 the U.K. Parliament held a session on human rights abuses in Uganda and several MPs denounced Museveni as a dictator who has rigged elections.

Police has canceled as many as 241 concerts featuring Kyagulanyi since 2017 in Uganda effectively banning him from performing. Recently Andrew Mukasa, who promotes Kyagulanyi’s concerts was arrested and charged with treason for an alleged social media posting.

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