Ugandan author ‘needs urgent medical attention’ after detention – PEN International


Kakwenza Rukirabashaija was taken to a Kampala hospital after being beaten in jail, his lawyer said. The writer’s treatment after being detained on bogus charges has caused an international outcry.

Distinguished Ugandan Author Kakwenza Rukirabashaija “is in urgent need of medical attention”, after spending most of the past six weeks in detention, PEN International said on Thursday.

Ralf Nestmeyer, vice-president of PEN in Germany, then wondered “if he could get that in Uganda”.

Nestmeyer said the band was “trying to support him” as best they could.

The free speech NGO’s comments came a day after Rukirabashaija’s lawyer said the writer was ‘dumped’ by the military at his home in eastern Uganda.

“We took him to the hospital in Kampala,” added Eron Kiiza. Kiiza said Rukirabashaija was tortured while in pretrial detention on bogus charges after he insulted the Ugandan ruling family on social media.

Rukirabashaija called strong man President Yoweri Museveni an “election thief” and describes his son as “intellectually bankrupt”.

Many believe that Muhoozi Kainerugaba, a lieutenant general commanding Ugandan army special forces, is groomed to succeed his 77-year-old father Museveni, who has been in power since 1986.

Held without charge for weeks

Rukirabashaija was arrested in December and held without charge until January 11, sparking an international outcry to release PEN Prize winner Pinter as an “international writer of courage”.

The author was charged with “offensive communication” and a court ordered his release pending trial. Despite the court ordersaid his lawyer, Rukirabashaija was arrested at the prison and held in an army barracks for several days.

This is not the first time Rukirabashaija has been detained. In 2020, after his satire of Museveni’s rule titled The Greedy Barbarian won international acclaim, he was arrested for breaking COVID social distancing rules, inciting violence and encouraging bigotry.

Rukirabashaija said he was also tortured in this case.

es/msh (epd, AFP)


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