Amon Byarugaba has been in detention for 10 years without trial
Oh! Uganda the land of unfreedom!!!!!!When human rights are violated with impunity by the UPDF: Besigye man held 10 years without trial
Thursday, 16 May 2013 22:39
Capt Amon Byarugaba has spent 10 years in a military jail and his continued detention appears to have broken the spine of his family.
“Our mother succumbed to pressure because operatives continued to come home and haunt us. She left home sometime back and relocated to Bombo… I had completed senior six after studying PCB/M but…,” Baguma told The Observer recently, with a tinge of bitterness in his voice.
He also revealed that his grandparents, whom his father looked after, died a few years ago.
“He [Byarugaba] supported his parents financially and psychologically. But when our grandparents learnt of his arrest they always asked: ‘why is Museveni punishing our son? We thought he was his friend’,” Baguma recalled.
In place of hope now lies fear and uncertainty.
“We have thought of going to Makindye barracks and demonstrate but some of our elders in the family said we should not. Was it a crime for our father to retire from the army? What if our dad dies in their hands; what will government tell us? My father is beginning to give up. He has developed a mysterious sickness. He was a healthy man. We live like orphans,” said Baguma.
His brother, Patrick Tushabe, also bore the brunt of harassment by security operatives. Before their father was arrested in 2003, Tushabe was detained at Jinja Road police station and later at Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force (JATT) safe houses along Yusuf Lule road.
“My brother was arrested from home by security operatives in 2001, when they came home looking for my father. They took him to Jinja road but later on bundled him into another car and drove him to the JATT cells,” says Baguma.
His father later called the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) boss Brig Noble Mayombo (RIP), who claimed he was unaware of his son’s arrest.
“I later on saw my brother running towards home without a shirt. I think it was because of the call to Mayombo that they released him,” said Baguma.
After Tushabe, Byarugaba, who had retired from the army in 1994, was picked up and detained at Makindye military police barracks, on allegations of treason, but is yet to be tried in a court. Baguma says the allegation that his father was a member of the shadowy People's Redemption Army (PRA) is a fabrication.
“These people started hounding my father from the time he retired from the army. I recall he had a clothes business in Ntinda but in 1994 security men came and took away all the sewing machines,” revealed Baguma.
A month ago, The Observer newspaper exposed the plight of Capt Byarugaba after Baguma’s younger brother, Fred Kakooza, narrated his father’s ordeal. Byarugaba, now 67, joined the Museveni-led NRA rebels in 1982 and later on served in the 23rd battalion. In 1994, he retired from the army citing old age, (although he was 48). In the chaotic 2001 presidential election, Byarugaba supported Reform Agenda’s Dr Kizza Besigye.
His family is convinced Byarugaba was incarcerated for holding views contrary to those of the establishment. Byarugaba was later accused of being part of a covert rebel uprising, the PRA, something he denied. And then in February 2003, he was picked up along with 21 other suspects, most of whom have since been freed.
The CMI claimed that Byarugaba conspired to overthrow the government. Security officials allege that Byarugaba’s group solicited and received arms and ammunition from Thomas Lubanga, a Congolese Lendu militia warlord, on February 24, 2003.
Byarugaba’s colleagues sought amnesty and were freed. But Byarugaba, who insists he is innocent, said he would wait for his trial.
“On October 26, 2012 we applied to the Supreme court to see if the General Court Martial (GCM) has powers to try civilians. We are still waiting for the judgment,” said his lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuzi.