By Beatrice Lamwaka
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Wearing white for peace, a Ugandan women's advocacy group has appealed to the United Nations amid a violent police crackdown on protesters. Ten have been killed, 100 injured and 600 arrested since April, a rights group says.
Lawyers from the International Federation of Women Lawyers, a nonprofit organization, reminded the government of the constitution.
"The state is obliged to respect, promote, protect and fulfill the rights of its citizens as enshrined in the 1995 constitution and other regional and international treaties to which Uganda is signatory," says one lawyer, who declined to give her name for safety reasons.
Another lawyer, who also declined to give her name for safety reasons, called for the government's respect of the rule of law and the court.
"Otherwise Uganda is heading towards a failed state," she says.
Before the march, police warned the women to not make any political statements.
"We were warned not to make any political statements, but the food that we put on the table is a political statement," Jessica Nkuuhe, an activist, says. "The tear gas, high fuel prices are political statements."
Earlier this month, more than 300 lawyers organized a three-day strike to protest police violence against demonstrators protesting rising food and fuel prices, according to The Associated Press. They said the brutality infringed on the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. They also spoke out against the arrest of opposition leader Kizza Besigye, who has run unsuccessfully for the presidency four times and has been arrested several times for leading Walk to Work protests.
Besigye, who has said the 2011 election in which he lost to Museveni was rigged, returned last week from Kenya, where he received treatment for his eye, wounded when police fired tear gas at him before his latest arrest, according to The Associated Press.
Nearly 40 of his supporters were injured in protests in Kampala last week, according to the Red Cross, as Besigye returned from Kenya and Museveni was sworn in.
Museveni has said multiple times that demonstrators would not overthrow his government, which came to power in 1986.
Beatrice Lamwaka, from Kampala, Uganda, joined Global Press Institute's Uganda News Desk in June 2010. She is on the shortlist for the 2011 Caine Prize and loves telling stories that are read and heard by others.
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