Photo: Protests for freedom of Bobi Wine. Credit: Facebook Bobi Wine - Photo: 2018

Ugandan Leader Tarnished by Torture of Reggae Star Bobi Wine

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK | KAMPALA (IDN) – Images of a popular reggae music star in a wheel chair holding crutches have raised questions of whether Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni ordered the arrest and torture of the star-turned-parliamentarian, Bobi Wine, who attended a rally of the opposition in the town of Arua.

Museveni was forced to release the star for treatment in the U.S. after an outcry by Wine’s supporters.

Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, known professionally as Bobi Wine, arrived on September 2 in Boston. Initially blocked from boarding his flight, he was briefly held in a government-owned hospital before finally being released.

Spokesmen for the President dismissed Wine’s torture claims as “fake news” and said that Wine will be charged with treason for allegedly trying to stone a Presidential convoy during the Arua rally on August 13.

Museveni had long left Arua when rioting broke out and rocks began to fly. Special forces responded with tanks, firing live bullets, raiding hotels, and violently arresting legislators, hotel guests and bystanders.

Parliamentarian Francis Zaake was so grievously injured at the August 15 event that he was reportedly placed on life support. Efforts to transfer Zaake to India for treatment have been put on hold pending an exam by Ugandan doctors.

Kassiano Wadri, a candidate for office who trounced the official candidate according to election returns, was arrested and remains in detention.

Some 33 opposition figures have been charged with treason following the Arua clashes.

Kyagulanyi, raised in one of Kampala’s slums, styles himself the “ghetto president”. He was elected to parliament last year and has a large youth and international following. His supporters cite his success in helping candidates from the opposition win elections and have urged him to run for president in 2021.

Museveni, who has held power since 1986, may be losing ground with voters, many of them under 30 who have never known another president. A controversial hydropower dam supported by the President is now called a “big mistake” since making electricity in Uganda unaffordable for many citizens.

U.S. investors, the Blackstone Group, however, reaped a huge return, doubling their $120 million investment after selling their stake to a Norwegian company, according to the Wall Street Journal.

What actually happneded

Meanwhile, on September 3, Bobi Wine has given a detailed personal account of his torture on his Facebook Excerpts follow:

I had started taking the stairs to my room when…came running to say that Yasin Kawuma (Bobi Wine’s driver) had been shot. I could not believe it. I asked him where he was and he told me they were parked outside the hotel. We paced down and I saw with my own eyes, my friend and comrade Yasin, giving way as he bled profusely. I quickly asked a team member to take him to hospital and another to call the police. We had not stepped away from that place when angry looking SFC soldiers came, beating up everyone they could see.

As soon as they saw me, they charged saying “there he is” in Swahili. So many bullets were being fired and everyone scampered to safety. I also ran up into the hotel with a throng of people who had gathered around. Inside the hotel, I entered a random room and locked myself in. It is at that point that my media assistant shared with me Yasin’s picture which I tweeted because the world needed to know what was going on.

I could hear the people outside and in the hotel corridors crying for help. I could also hear the soldiers pulling these helpless people past the room in which I was, saying all sorts of profanities to them while beating them mercilessly.

I stayed in the room for a long time. At some point, I heard soldiers pull some woman out of her room and ask her which room Bobi Wine had entered. The woman wailed saying she didn’t know and what followed were terrible beatings. I could hear her cry and plead for help as she was being dragged down the stairs. Up to now, that is one experience that haunts me; that I could hear a woman cry for help, yet I was so vulnerable and helpless. I could not help her.

I stayed put for some hours, and I could hear the soldiers come every few minutes, bang some doors on my floor or other floors and go away. At different times I would sleep off, but was always rudely awakened by the banging of doors and the impatient boots that paced throughout the hotel for the whole night. In the wee hours of the morning, the soldiers started breaking doors of the different hotel rooms. With rage, they broke doors, and I knew they would soon come to my room. I therefore put my wallet and phone into my socks. I also had with me some money which I had earned from a previous music show. I also put it into the socks.

…a soldier hit my door with an iron bar

A few minutes later, a soldier hit my door with an iron bar and after two or three attempts the door fell in. We looked each other in the eye as he summoned his colleagues in Swahili. Another soldier pointed a pistol on my head and ordered me to kneel down. I put my hands up and just before my knees could reach the floor, the soldier who broke into the room used the same iron bar to hit me. He aimed it at my head and I put up my hand in defence so he hit my arm. The second blow came straight to my head on the side of my right eye. He hit me with this iron bar and I fell down. In no minute, all these guys were on me- each one looking for the best place to hurt. I can’t tell how many they were but they were quite a number.

They beat me, punched me, and kicked me with their boots. No part of my body was spared. They hit my eyes, mouth and nose. They hit my elbows and my knees. Those guys are heartless!

As they dragged me out of the room, they continued to hit me from all sides. After some time, I could almost no longer feel the pain. I could only hear what they were doing from a far. My cries and pleas went unheeded. The things they were speaking to me all this while, I cannot reproduce here. Up to now, I cannot understand how these soldiers who I probably had never met before in person could hate me so much.

Those guys did to me unspeakable things in that vehicle!

They wrapped me in a thick piece of cloth and bundled me into a vehicle. Those guys did to me unspeakable things in that vehicle! They pulled my manhood and squeezed my testicles while punching me with objects I didn’t see. They pulled off my shoes and took my wallet, phone and the money I had. As soon as the shoes were off, they started hitting my ankles with pistol butts. I groaned in pain and they ordered me to stop making noise for them. They used something like pliers to pull my ears.

Some guy unwrapped me and instead tied the thick cloth around my head. They forced my head below the car seat so as to stop me from shouting. Then they hit my back and continued to hit my genitals with objects. The marks on my back, ankles, elbows, legs and head are still visible. I continued to groan in pain and the last I heard was someone hit me at the back of the head with an object – I think a gun butt or something. That was the last time I knew what was going on.

By the time I became conscious again, I was somewhere in a small room with a small window. My legs were tied together with my hands with very tight cuffs. I was bleeding from the nose and ears. I was in great pain. The cloth they had tied me in was red- soaked in blood. My whole body was swollen. I was shaking uncontrollably.

Two soldiers were visibly pleased to see that I was still alive…

Two soldiers came in. I can now recall that they were visibly pleased to see that I was still alive. They came close to me. One of them apologized in tears about what had happened.

“Bobi, I am sorry but not all of us are like that. Some of us actually like you,” he said. He said that doctors were on their way to treat me. I stayed in the same position and after a few hours, about four soldiers came in and lifted me on a piece of cloth.

One of them took a picture of me, (I hope to see that picture some day in my life). As we went out, I read “Arua airfield’ somewhere. I was taken into a waiting military helicopter and taken to a place which I later found out was Gulu 4th Division military barracks. It was at that facility that some military doctors came in and started giving me injections…

Read Bobi Wine’s personal account of “WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED IN ARUA? MY STORY!” told on September 3, 2018. [IDN-InDepthNews – 04 September 2018]

Photo: Protests for freedom of Bobi Wine. Credit: Facebook Bobi Wine

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

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