Many families have come up in Uganda crying out to the government to return their abducted members who have been kidnapped by the state. Ever since the election period in Uganda, people started disappearing especially those who support the opposition parties in Uganda. This became more intense towards the election, in such a manner that people were abducted in public by security men in uniform using tinted cars commonly known as “Drone”. Where are these people taken? Nobody knows! Families have looked for their loved ones in all recognised detention centres but in vain. The National Unity Platform (NUP) lawyer Shamim Malende said in one of her Facebook lives that they have received overwhelming reports of missing people of uptown 1000s only in the month of January.
In an interview, Mr. Lawrence Kiwanuka Ssemagulu Nsereko, tells us about his son Balikuddembe Victor Makenya who was kidnapped by security on the 6th-January-2021 and still missing up today. He provide us with some background information of the brutal regime, including the fact that at some point the police in Uganda refused to enter files of missing person for his Son Victor, as he explains below in a detailed interview.
Tell us about yourself?
I am a Ugandan activist who has been demanding for the respect of people’s rights for as long as I can recall. I started by writing against the illegal detentions of people in the early days of Museveni, when his government randomly arrested thousands of civilians from northern Uganda, mainly the Acholi people (Tribe in Northern Uganda) and detained them in military barracks. This didn’t endear me to the regime. When Museveni defacto banned political parties, with a few colleagues we challenged him. Characteristic of Museveni he brought out the sledge hammer to kill a fly. We were arrested. I continued to write about the abuses and corruption. In 1995 there were plans to kill me, orders had been issued, I decided to leave the country. While in Kenya there was an attempt to assassinate me. I was saved by the Kenyan police and I left for the USA. Where I have lived as a refugee ever since. I am a teacher in the USA.
Kiwanuka Lawrence Nsereko works as a lecturer at Dutchess Community College in the Department of History, Economics and Government, where he teaches critical thinking.
Tell us about your son?
Balikuddembe Victor Makenya was coming to three years when I left Uganda. My sister, who is also now on the run raised him until he became an independent businessman and a primary school teacher. He supported people power and distributed political paraphernalia from the Bobi Wine campaign. He just exercised his citizen rights. If this election, wasn’t just a selection, people should not be killed, detained, tortured, or disappeared because of who they supported. This is a young man, with a family which is in deep distress. My son’s girlfriend is in constant tears. Listening to her as she narrates, the manner in which her husband was taken away crushes your heart. Worse, she was also roughed up by my son’s kidnappers.
When did your son disappear and how?
Victor was taken from his home, from Jjalamba village, in Mpigi district on the night of 6th January 2021 by two Toyata Hiace vans, famous for kidnapping. The vans are commonly known as ‘drones’ in local parlance. They always carry fake plates when they do, and or no plates at all. Basically the security men, never identified themselves, or presented any documentation. They knocked and when he opened they pounced, beating everyone is sight, dragged him into the van and speed off! They left the poor girlfriend stunned after a few slaps.
What’s the reason behind your son disappearance?
It is political. I think being my son did not help his case. But I think they just took him for supporting Bobi Wine primarily. Thousands have been kidnapped in the lead up to, and after the elections. The Kampala regime is a rouge regime, which is in competition for most disappeared people with the Khmer Rouge regime of Pol Pot of Cambodia. Thousands of people are detained in un gazzated (safe house where people are tortured by security men) places. There is an island in Lake Victoria, where those detained are used for hard labour on private farms of military officers. What the regime is doing, is to silence every opposing voice in the country. And this is not new, this has been Museveni s concealed character. Barely a year in power he shut down newspapers, intimidated journalists and paid off others. He has introduced all forms of draconian laws against expression and association. Actually what Museveni has enacted into laws in Uganda if far worse than what Draco enacted for Athens.
Who do you suspect to have your son, where do you suspect him to be?
The government does. The SFC and CMI have been kidnapping people using the same vehicles for almost a year now. Toyata gotta worry about their brand! Before it was the Toyota Hilux double cabin, now it is the Hiace vans. The two security entities run several safe houses and detention facilities across the country and they operate with the leave of the president. No other person can direct them or reprimand them except Museveni and his son. We have tried our best to file a missing person case but all police in Uganda refused deliberately to take in this case.
What do you say about the on going state kidnaps in Uganda?
As I have indicated, this is not something new. Members of my family have been routinely kidnapped and detained for months without charges. In my own case I was taken away several times and detained in places I will never be able to locate on a map. I carry scars from the physical torture, and this is what makes me very worried about my boy and others. What kind of torture are they being subjected to? The regime is unhinged, they murder with impunity and they have even gotten to a level where they take pride in Murder. The president has publicly spoken about his capacity to “To crush the opposition”. Several members of his army have also said that they are willing to kill other than hand over power therefore what we see is exactly what they meant the kidnapping are part of this policy of crushing the opposition.
What message do you have to the reader of this article and to whoever holds your son?
Whoever is holding my child needs to know that my child deserves his freedoms, not because, of who is holding him but ‘cause he’s rights are inherent they are God given liberties that are not given by a government or by an individual. It’s also important for those who are watching what is going on in Uganda to act beyond just mare words because the murders and the misconduct of the Museveni dictatorship might lead Uganda into an increased situation of instability, than what we have ever seen before. The Uganda ruler is ethnicityising politics and by doing so he is opening up the country to blood letting situation like no other. All the wars Uganda has fought, none as long tribal lines. The reader of this article, wherever they are, needs to recall the global concern of 76 years ago about the murders of the Jewish people. The world said ‘never again’ to disappearing of people. We better go beyond just words. Also Uganda doesn’t manufacture any of the guns being used to kill our people. The sending countries, or those enabling the regime through loans and alleged security agreements need to revise their relationship with Museveni. The international community needs to be on the side of the innocent people like my son, not on the diabolic dictatorship side.
Watch the full length interview with Mr. Kiwanuka: