Uganda charges, jails academic for insulting the president

13 April, 2017, 02:16 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • Uganda arrests academic who criticised president s wife

After Janet Museveni said the sanitary pads pledge would not be met on budgetary grounds, Nyanzi began a high profile fundraising campaign on the issue. She launched a crowdfunding campaign to provide the pads herself. Instead, government lawyers applied to have Nyanzi undergo a court-ordered mental evaluation before she could even take pleas.

To protest what she saw as the abject relegation of national responsibility, Dr. Nyanzi sought to shame the Musevenis into action, by describing their indifference and lack of care for the Ugandan girl-children in terminologies and expressions bordering on naked vulgarity.

Yet in a period of just a few days after Dr. Nyanzi's arrest in Kampala by the Ugandan regime, glaring portraits of Nyanzi, wearing the distinctive Che Guevara style liberation struggle hat, went viral on the social media networks, with many Ugandans choosing to replace their Facebook account photo IDs with that of Dr. Nyanzi.

"The arrest and criminal charges brought against Dr. Nyanzi are yet another clear indicator that those who express critical views of the government can face its wrath", Burnett said.

She has denied the charges, saying she only writes in metaphors, and some have argued that the charges are an attack against freedom of expression. Last year, she was involved in a very public employment dispute with her boss professor Mahmood Mamdani, a luminary African scholar. Some call her courageous, others call her immoral and vulgar, the prosecution in the current case has questioned her mental health. Museveni's critics increasingly warn that he plans to rule for life.

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There was no reference to any charge for insults to the first lady.

In a rare TV interview on 30 March, the First Lady said she had forgiven her, but Nyanzi was then arrested days later. President Museveni had promised on the campaign trail past year to provide sanitary pads for girls in need. But this did not stop the diatribes against Mrs Museveni.

Dr Nyanzi also organized a public fundraising drive to buy sanitary towels for girls in school, which has collected thousands of dollars and gained widespread publicity among Ugandans at home and overseas.

Nyanzi who is known to be a feminist and human rights champion appeared in Buganda Road Chief Magistrate Court today and the State asked for the examination of her mental state.

"Dr. Nyanzi is within her constitutional rights and we are for an all-out legal battle with the state to defend her rights".

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