By Jackie Lumbasi
Tuesday 12th July had been a good day, here it was ending well with Former FDC presidential candidate Kizza Besigye being released from Luzira Prison and President Yoweri Museveni trending after stopping his convoy to make or answer a call……that was cool, though I felt cheated, I wanted to see a bit more of a loosened up president…perhaps seated on the ground….this one seemed over choreographed, whichever the case it made my day. I burst out laughing several times across the day viewing images on social media of people taking the presidential challenge trending as #M7Challenge.
I anticipated a rich bulletin that night, there’s nothing as boring as sitting in front of a TV on a dry day! News time comes, and there is President Museveni, a Besigye story, Sudan amongst other news. I wanted to know how TV stations were going to utilize the image and video of the President seated by the roadside, I needed to get the latest on Sudan, on Besigye, I did not expect anything new, it would be him waving at his supporters from his car, of course there would be a mammoth crowd trailing his convoy of personal and military cars…providing security and controlling the emotional crowd. Nothing prepared me for the horrendous scenes I saw as the Besigye story was running, I guess during the day between staring at the #M7Challenge images, talking about Sudan and betting on how long it would be before Besigye is rearrested I missed a clip of police and military men seated on a pick-up truck holding long sticks and hitting people indiscriminately.
The sight of these men on trucks is not new, the sirens weren’t either, but hell no, them driving by, hitting people was unacceptable, despicable, it was heart-wrenching. Noooooooo! This wasn’t the end to Tuesday that I had envisaged!
I usually defend police because, frankly, there are times they have been provoked, I have had enough people tell me, no matter the degree of provocation the men in uniform should limit the force with which they ‘reprimand ‘ the public. Seated there watching news and seeing women men, boys and girls being beaten for expressing themselves really broke my heart.
Did the police see the trench behind these people, did it matter to them that out of shock and fear someone could fall into that trench and break a limb, or hit their head on concrete and die?
Assuming there was a stampede that turned fatal and people lost lives as a result, who would have taken responsibility?
The reason I was deeply-touched is because that could have easily been me; I am not a huge fan of Besigye but if he was in my neighborhood I’d stand by the road side to watch as he passes by and ponder the resilience and emotions exhibited by the crowds that follow him, my system wouldn’t allow to be locked up somewhere as a crowd forms or celebrates from the vicinity, I would automatically be part of that, even though passively!
I could have been that woman in red, my mum Grace could have been the elderly woman looking on in a green busuuti, your father could have been that guy carrying metal bars on his shoulder riding a bicycle minding his business but being pocked with sticks and harassed by men in uniform. And what was the crime of the motorbike parked by the roadside that one of the officers on the truck attempted to push?
Many ask why Police tops the list of Human Rights violators each time a survey is carried out; but with such atrocity meted out to a crowd of onlookers, we should stop wondering.
We might all know some well-intentioned and disciplined men and women in uniform; kudos to those! The rogue ones though, need to be identified and disciplined for tainting the professional image that others strive hard to portray!