NUP Activists Storm EU Parliament to block Uganda-EU Business Forum over gross human rights abuse

National Unity Platform (NUP) activists living in living in Belgium and the Netherlands yesterday, Friday, 23 stormed the Headquarters of the European Union (EU) Parliament to demonstrate against the continental institution’s planned participation in next month’s business forum with Uganda in Kampala.

Uganda is scheduled to host a business forum with the European Union from March 5th to 7th at the Commonwealth Resort, Munyonyo.

Activists, the majority of whom subscribe to the opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) have faulted the continental body for conducting itself indifferently in light of the ongoing human rights violations in Uganda, rather opting to conduct business with the military regime in Kampala instead of calling it out.

Bruce Kwikiriza, the Vice Chairman of the Belgium-Netherlands NUP chapter expressed immense disappointment in the European Union, suggesting that they should be more obligated to call the Ugandan regime to order than “pampering it.”

I feel deeply disappointed with the EU for their uncharacteristic conduct on the human rights crisis in Uganda. Whereas we expect them to demand accountability,  they are busy pampering the oppressors.” Mr Kwikiriza protested.

“We demand freedom for Uganda. the EU should refrain from being a collaborator with the oppressive dictatorship in Uganda unless the torture in Uganda is part of their business,” protests Jackie Nabukenya, one of the protestors. 

Ms Nabukenya emphasises the need to pressure the Ugandan government to respect the rights of its citizens unconditionally. She calls for the unconditional release of all political prisoners who are reportedly held in different detention facilities across the country. 

” I have dedicated my Facebook page to demand the freedom of all political prisoners in Uganda,  notably, Olivia Lutaaya, and others who continue facing the wrath of the dictatorship for merely expressing their right to belong to a political group of their choice,” Nabukenya explains.

” The EU is duty bound to protect those under threat from tyrannical administrations and not cooperating with them against the oppressed.”

On why they choose to demonstrate in Europe and not in Uganda, Nabukenya cites the lack of freedom of expression which usually exposes activists to torture and imprisonment in Uganda.

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She also underscores the need to bring the ongoing atrocities in Uganda to the attention of the international community through such “noise.”

Ms Charlote Roelant, another participant in the protest notes that the fight for justice is an obligation for any human being regardless of where they come from. Unlike most of the protestors on the day, Roelant is a Belgian citizen who only shares a passion for the East African country out of the one year period he lived in Kampala.

Roelant says that she feels “shattered” each time she sees the disturbing images of Ugandans being battered and maimed for merely opposing the government,  adding that “it’s such situations that make me feel part  of the fight for freedom in Uganda.”

Besides, and, perhaps most importantly, Ms Roelant has two boys who are Ugandans by virtue of their father’s Ugandan nationality. This, according to her, is partly why she feels compelled to join the fight for a better country so that ” my children won’t have to be bundled onto numberless cars and whisked away to be tortured when they return.”

On the consequences of ” poking her nose” in the affairs of a country that’s not hers, she admits having been blamed by some friends who not very conversant with her attachment to Uganda but she is not moved.

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” I often get questions of why should you care, after all it’s not your country. But my answer is always that they should imagine living in a country where wearing a red shirt will automatically earn one a jail term, or even death.

Ms Nanyonjo Mariam, also part of the protesting group appealed to the EU to join all the progressive voices calling for democracy and respect for human rights in Uganda, while Ondeko Ursula demands that the body declares its commitment to influencing other world players such as the UN, Commonwealth, African Union towards the plight of persecuted Ugandans.

The activists want the EU to reconsider its confirmed participation in the Kampala event, arguing that deciding otherwise would greatly dent the continental body’s good human rights record.

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