Ugandan Police arrest academic who criticised president's wife

Posted April 13, 2017

She's an activist and academic whose rants against the current Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and First Lady Janet Museveni are definitely rated PG if not Triple X.

Asked what happens if, indeed, Nyanzi is found to be mentally unstable, Nicholas Opio said, court might send her for treatment.

But the causes for which she has made a decision to sacrifice herself, including her defense of the rights of the African Girl-Child, and the symbolism she is now assuming as a liberation icon may be what Ugandans have been waiting for before they could decide to massively join the on-going struggle for a better Uganda. Nyanzi has been accused of abusing freedom of speech through her Facebook page by constantly posting graphic material attacking government officials. The root of this controversy is sanitary pads for schoolgirls. Last year, she was involved in a very public employment dispute with her boss professor Mahmood Mamdani, a luminary African scholar.

In a conservative society, where homosexual acts are outlawed, she has become an extremely divisive figure.

The latest example of harassment against a member of the the press was the abduction of Gertrude Tumusiime Uwitware on April 8, a journalist for Uganda's NTV station, who was allegedly kidnapped and interrogated after defending Nyanzi in a Facebook post.

While her audience has continued to grow there are mixed reactions to her musings. Some Ugandan has called her approach "radical rudeness".

Her Facebook post was described as "obscene or indecent", contravening the Computer Misuse Act 2011. "They are clutching at any straw to suppress free expression".

Human rights advocate, Muthoni Wanyeki, demanded charges against Nyanzi to be dropped.

On her Twitter handle, she refers to herself as a "queer laughist and writer".

I totally reject the idea that one can not, must not, ought not and should not criticize the people responsible for abusing the rights of Ugandans and resources of Uganda through thirty-one years of increasing despotic family rule.

"Did I seek her forgiveness in 2015 when my mother, a long time NRM cadre and retrenched social worker, died from failing to get an ambulance to transfer her from our home in Kizungu to Masaka Hospital? I do things queer, I study queer communities in Uganda, that is the language we speak".

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After Dr. Nyanzi's arrest she was injudiciously confined without being charged for over 48 hours – a clear violation of Ugandas constitutional provisions.

Ms Nyanzi responded with rants on social media, coupled with a nude protest.

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

This year Ms Nyanzi turned her attention to the country's minister of education and first lady Janet Museveni.

Interviewed yesterday about the implication of a mental check-up for Nyanzi, which the state is seeking, Ibrahim Kivumbi Kaboggoza, a lawyer working with Joseph Kiryowa & co Advocates, said the state is trying to discredit Nyanzi.

"He makes promises of sanitary pads to girls".

"The manner of Nyanzi's arrest on Friday was more about intimidation than law enforcement", she added.

Many assumed that this was because of her comments about Mrs Museveni, although this was not mentioned in court.

She was finally arrested on Friday 7 and taken to court on Monday 10 April where she denied the charges saying she only writes in metaphors.

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