A section of politicians in USA has taken to social media to condemn the arrest of singer Bobi Wine as well as demand his release by the Ugandan government.
Bobi Wine was arrested yesterday as he headed to the CID headquarters in Kibuli, he was consequently paraded in court and charged with disobedience of statutory duty, contrary to section 116 of the Penal Code Act, an offence committed in July 2018.
He was remanded to Luzira Prison until Friday this week. Following his remand, politicians in the USA led by California congress representative Brad Sherman took to social media calling for his ‘immediate’ release.
“I am deeply troubled to learn that Uganda has arrested @HEBobiwine again for holding an unauthorized protest. I’ve met Bobi and his family several times. The government of Uganda should release him immediately,” Sherman tweeted.
I am deeply troubled to learn that Uganda has arrested @HEBobiwine again for holding an unauthorized protest. I've met Bobi and his family several times. The government of Uganda should release him immediately.
— Rep. Brad Sherman (@BradSherman) April 29, 2019
Bob Mendez, a representative for New Jersey in the US senate condemned Uganda government, saying that persecuting Bobi Wine would not make it popular.
“Persecuting political opponents won’t make the government in #Uganda more popular. Eroding civil liberties, attacking fundamental freedoms, and closing political space is a sign of weakness—NOT strength. Mr. Wine must be released immediately,” he said.
Jeffrey Smith, a director founder of Vanguard Africa, a nonprofit that partners with Africa’s best and bravest to support ethical leadership, advocate for free and fair elections and build inclusive democracies, thanked US officials and called for the release of Bobi.
“The continued persecution and unjust detention of Bobi Wine (@HEBobiwine) has received worldwide condemnation. Big thanks to US officials.”
“Bobi Wine is back in jail, this time for leading an unauthorized protest. We encourage the government of Uganda to respect his right to freedom of expression and release him immediately. #freebobiwine,” they tweeted.
Former New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark also called for the same;
“Very distressing to see #Uganda opposition MP & popular musician #BobiWine detained again. Last year in detention he was beaten & tortured. International solidarity is vital to protect Bobi’s health & life #FreeBobiWine,” she said.
However, government deputy spokesperson, Rtd Col. Shaban Bantariza called upon Bobi Wine’s international crusaders to come to Uganda and fetch him through the legal procedures.
“Let them come to Uganda and represent him in court. Everything is subject to the law, even the president who has the right to free prisoners can only do so after conviction. Hence if they want so much to have him released, he is appearing in court a few days later, they can come and represent him legally,” he said.
“I also advise those politicians abroad to come and check all prisons in Uganda, they will know that we have thousands of prisoners on different crimes and not only Bobi Wine. Unless they want to claim that there are no people arrested in the countries where they come from! This is legal procedure everywhere in the world, including where they (US politicians) come from,” he added.
Bobi Wine met the same politicians abroad last year
Following his arrest and release in August last year, Bobi Wine went for treatment in USA where he met and held several discussions with the above US politicians and personalities.
During the time, he met Jeffrey Smith who has since been an ardent supporter of Bobi Wine ideologies, expressing his belief that Bobi Wine indeed would change Uganda and shock the ruling class.
Sherman on the other hand while meeting Bobi Wine on September 6 claimed their meeting ‘underlined the importance of the democratic process as well as those who have and continue to suffer from political oppression in #Uganda.’
Sherman would also later become a central aspect in Bobi Wine’s activities, at one time trying to help the singer deliver a speech to the US congress.