Tuesday, April 29, 2008
UGANDAN AUTHORITIES: RELEASE ANDREW MWENDA UNCONDITIONALLY!
Reuters Africa is reporting that Andrew Mwenda and two other staffers of the Independent have been arrested by Ugandan officials.
The Kenyan Diaspora Pro-democracy Movement (KDPM) deplores the arrest of Andrew Mwenda and his colleagues in Kampala, Uganda. It is so sad to note that although the right to freedom of speech is guaranteed under international law through numerous human-rights instruments, notably under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the implementation of this right remains a nightmare in Uganda. The KDPM recognizes that restrictions on the freedom of speech should be the exception and free expression the rule. Thus arresting a leading African intellectual like Andrew Mwenda not only beats the idea of trying to promote the free flow of ideas essential to political democracy and democratic institutions in Uganda but it also curtails the ability of the this young country to promote other rights and freedoms. Mwenda has worked exceedingly hard to promote economic and political ideas in Africa. We would have expected the Ugandan government to see this as being intrinsically valuable as part of the self-actualization of her learned citizens and listeners. Unfortunately, the myopic forces led by greed and the quest for short-term gains do not see this.
The KDPM calls on all think tanks, institutions and governments that work tirelessly to promote freedom of speech and intellectualism to intervene and press for the unconditional release of Andrew Mwenda. We call on all African student chapters and organizations here in the US to organize protests and mail out petitions calling for the release of Andrew Mwenda and his colleagues. We also ask you to call The State Department, Bureau of African Affairs and ask them to intervene:
One more thing, call your Senator or Congressman/Congresswoman and ask him to intervene in this situation. Every call counts. If you do not get him/her, send an email!
Click here to listen to Andrew Mwenda speaking:
KAMPALA (Reuters) - Ugandan security forces on Saturday raided the offices of a magazine seen as critical of President Yoweri Museveni's government, arresting three journalists and taking computers, a lawyer said.
Andrew Mwenda is a print, radio and television journalist, and an active critic of many forms of Western aid to Africa. Too much of the aid from rich nations, he says, goes to the worst African countries to fuel war and government abuse. Such money not only never gets to its intended recipients, Africa's truly needy -- it actively plays a part in making their lives worse.
Mwenda worked at the Daily Monitor newspaper in Kampala starting in the mid-1990s, and hosted a radio show, Andrew Mwenda Live, since 2001; in 2005, he was charged with sedition by the Ugandan government for criticizing the president of Uganda on his radio show, in the wake of the helicopter crash that killed the vice president of Sudan. He has produced documentaries and commentary for the BBC on the dangers of aid and debt relief to Africa, and consulted for the World Bank and Transparency international, and was a Knight Fellow at Stanford in 2007. In December 2007, he launched a new newspaper, The Independent, in Kampala.
Journalist Andrew Mwenda has spent his career fighting for free speech and economic empowerment throughout Africa. He argues that aid makes objects of the poor -- they become passive recipients of charity rather than active participants in their own economic betterment.