Three members of Uganda’s Activists for Change (A4C) pressure group have been charged with treason following the recent renewal of the walk-to-work campaign.
The three, Sam Mugumya, Francis Mwijukye and Ingrid Turinawe are among several activists said to have plotted to overthrow the government. Turinawe, the A4C leader, did not appear for the trial, which started Wednesday, prompting the court to issue a warrant of arrest for her.
Treason is a capital offence in Uganda and carries a death penalty on conviction.
“As far as I am concerned, we activists are doing our work in the open,” said Turinawe, who is also the chairperson of the Women’s League of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change.
They will have to prove it [treason charge] in court”, she said. “Our activities are non-violent, and all we seek is change.”
Turinawe explained that they have even communicating with Uganda’s Inspector General of Police about their activities.
“I am just waiting for them to come and arrest me,” she said in reference to the warrant of arrest issued today against her. “I have done nothing wrong, and I am not worried.”She accused the head of the police of trying to frame the activists with terrorism and treason charges.
Turinawe said that A4C activists will not be intimidated by the actions of government. Even the president, she added, has been trying to pass a law in parliament to deny demonstrators the right to bail so “I think these charges are a shortcut to keep demonstrators in jail for a long time.”
She swore to go on with her activism until she is arrested. “That is how dictators work. The government is trying to intimidate people. We are ready to face all the consequences.”
Turiunanwe said the Walk to Work campaign will culminate with a rally on Saturday, although the government is trying to discourage the public from participating.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye has been unable to leave his Kasangati home, which is surrounded by a heavy deployment of riot police.
The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) leader was on Tuesday placed under “preventive arrest” when he tried to walk from his home in Kasangati, over 20 kilometers North West of Kampala.
Opposition parties held “Walk to Work” protests in Uganda in April and May over high prices and political corruption. The demonstrations sparked violence and standoffs with police.
Nine people were killed. The price of food and gasoline have been rising in Uganda, squeezing consumers. President Yoweri Museveni has been in power 25 years, and Besigye and others accuse his government of incompetence and corruption.