Lira, 22nd/Jan/2011; A Red Pepper’s photo journalist Michael Kakumirizi was mobbed up by suspected the ruling party National Resistance Movement (NRM) party supporters while covering an opposition presidential candidate’s campaign rally in the Lango sub-region.
Kakumirizi, in his late 20s, escaped with a deep wound on his forehead and bruised arm which were hit by bricks and a bicycle that was thrown at him.
Others beaten included Francis Tumwekwasize a former WBS TV journalist now attached to the Inter-Party Cooperation (IPC) Press Unit. IPC is a coalition of different opposition political parties fronting retired Col. Dr. Kiiza Besigye for the Uganda presidency.
Him and other journalists were roughed up by the suspected NRM functionaries who accused them of taking their pictures while allegedly bribing voters at Aloi Police Post in the newly created Alebeatong district in an attempt to keep residents away from Dr. Kizza Besigye’s Wednesday 19th/Jan/2011 rally in the area.
This group in Alebeatong district was awakened by the camera flash to realize that journalists were part of the group of residents that they had called to Aloi Police Post to receive the money.
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) was told by eye witness that supporters pounced on the journalists and tried to take away their cameras, but the journalists too put up a spirited fight, to save their equipments and dear lives.
“I was rounded up by these functionaries as I tried to escape. They beat me using batons, kicks, and fists. I became helpless because the area police just looked on. I was saved by Besigye’s guards. I am not political, and at the time I was only doing my journalistic work.” Kakumirizi narrated to Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda).
The guards arrested the Aloi Sub County NRM Chairman Francis Owino who is accused of leading the attack on journalists. The Police struggled with FDC supporters to save Owino from being lynched.
Owino and other suspects were immediately driven to Alebeatong Police Station where journalists also filed cases of assault against this group of NRM leaders.
Surprisingly, however, the District Internal Security Officer (DISO), Abdul Ogwal secured the release of Owino and his allies before they were rocked up. It was later established that the DISO is Owino’ relative
“HRNJ-Uganda is greatly concerned about the increasing violence against journalists at the hands of ruling party supporters with impunity. We challenge the police and other authorities to prosecute this group as a way to preserve and protect journalists during this campaign period.” Said the HRNJ-Uganda Board Chairperson, Robert Ssempala
For More Information Contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road – Mengo Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Pre. School
P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala
Tel: +256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627