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Ugandan Opposition Activist Charged with Treason for Planning Protests

  • Douglas Mpuga

Another Ugandan activist has been jailed on charges of treason. Ingrid Turinawe, chairperson of The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Women’s League, was arrested by police Monday. She was remanded without bail earlier today.

Turinawe joins dozens of opposition members across the country who have been arrested over the last several days for joining the ‘walk to work’ protests.

It’s an effort where motorists and commuters abandon vehicles and instead walk to their workplaces. Seven of those arrested have been charged with treason and three with concealment of treason.

“The government is trying to clamp down on peaceful protesters,” said Anne Mugisha, FDC’s Deputy Secretary for International affairs.

She said even in parliament there was a bill on public assemblies and gatherings which is supposed to clamp down even further [on peaceful protests].

“What they are trying to do is frighten anyone who would attempt to be involved with activities of protests of anti-government policy,” she said.

Mugisha said despite the intimidation, the government crackdown will leave them much stronger because people are beginning to ask the right questions.

“Some people had begun to believe the government version that we are a disruptive group,” she explained. “But when government begun charging people of treason and concealment of treason for just arranging a demonstration of ‘walk to work,’ people started asking the right questions.”

Mugisha said peaceful demonstration is still the most effective way, and that the ‘walk to work’ exercise is proving powerful. “Rather than abandon the campaign, we are going to strengthen it,” she stressed.

She said Kizza Besigye has gone to court to challenge his being stopped from participating in the ‘walk to work’ campaign.

Besigye, head of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Uganda's largest opposition party, has been confined to his home in the town of Kasangati outside the capital Kampala since October 18. That’s when he attempted to join the second round of what organizers call ‘walk-to-work’ protests.

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