ACTIVISTS FOR CHANGE
AT Kampala, December 14, 2011
Activists for Change has called this very special press conference to welcome our colleagues from their long overdue release on bail. We wish to start by thanking our supporters, lawyers and the courts of law for standing with us through a very trying period until we secured bail for all the activists who were detained during the Walk to Work Week of October 2010. As you know these last three activists have been away for nearly two months on detention without trial in the maximum security prison at Luzira. The circumstances of their arrest are well known and unique. Out of over 60 arrests country wide during the Walk to Work Week, Ingrid Turinawe, Sam Mugumya and Francis Mwijukye were singled out for ‘special treatment.’ There are about seven other activists who were charged with treason or concealment of treason but these others were not targeted for extended incarceration without trial; in fact many of them are walked on Police Bond documents. It is absurd and very telling that police would grant bond to some treason suspects but ensure that three suspects are denied bond even though they were arrested on the same facts.
Today we shall desist from commenting on the issues that are pending before a court of law and instead focus on the celebrating the release of our colleagues. The ‘Treason Trio’ as they are now famously known are still facing serious charges of treason for which, if found guilty, they will be hanged by the neck until they die. The prospect of a death sentence for organizing legitimate demonstrations under an increasingly dictatorial regime is real and should never be understated.
Our celebrations are therefore muted by the long shadow of a desperate regime but on the other hand they are fueled by the tenacity, determination and courage of our colleagues to continue with our cause regardless of the consequences. Those of us who visited Ingrid, Sam and Francis in Luzira or who saw them when they attended court sessions were humbled and lifted by their steadfast resolve and cheerfulness in the face of adversity. Their spirits remained high and unbroken throughout their ordeal and they are impatient to continue A4C activities. We have no doubt in our mind that they will be absolved of all charges and wrong doing and we are determined to carry this cause through to its logical conclusion: The establishment of a democratic and responsive government that understands the plight of its people.
While they were away we continued to be bombarded with news of corruption in the highest echelons of government. More ministers and public officials were implicated in the oil scandal. Another minister was forced to resign after it was revealed that she had shamelessly taken possession of UBC masts, public property, to start her own radio station. Meantime we did not even celebrate the gains that the shilling made against the dollar because pump prices for petrol and diesel did not drop with the dollar. With the festive season upon us, transport costs have continued to rise and the government has not stepped in to redress the situation. From Lira to Katwe, traders and artisans took to the streets to protest the constant power outages which have caused a huge slump in business during the season that businesses make profits. UMEME has become the single most despised company but government cannot do anything about it because it was solely responsible for negotiating the bad deal with UMEME, and now we must all pay the price. Teachers are going into the festive season with the same paltry salaries they had last year and they are threatening to take industrial action again in January.
We therefore take this opportunity to call upon our supporters to stand firm as we continue with our activities. This is not the time to abandon the cause because of intimidation or fear of incarceration. Instead we must continue to firmly challenge the social injustices and protest the economic hardships that the government has failed to address. We are the voice and the hope of the common man.
As you know, the Walk to Work week was disorganized and diverted but after this festive season we shall continue our activities with ‘Walk 2 Work Reloaded.’ In the meantime we plan to hold countrywide celebratory events for all our colleagues who were jailed and bailed during the Walk to Work Week; as we build momentum for Walk to Work – Reloaded. A program of events will be released at the earliest opportunity.
Thank you for you kind attention. For God and My Country.
Hon. Mathias Mpuuga (MP)
National Coordinator, A4C