NBS TV journalist, Josephine Namakumbi has said the military attack on journalists was a well planned, orchestrated move aimed at intimidating the people who script the news.
Her remarks came after journalists were beaten by brutal and mean-looking military police personnel at Kololo where they had gone to cover Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu alias Bobi Wine deliver a petition to the United Nations Human Rights (UN).
The affected journalists were NBS TV’s Josephine Namakumbi, Timothy Murungi and Henry Ssekanjako of the New Vision, John Cliff Wamala of NTV, Irene Abalo Otto of Daily Monitor and Shamim Nabakooza of Record TV.
Namakumbi said it was not necessary for the military police to attack journalists because as the media they were peacefully waiting for the address from the people they were covering after being blocked from accessing the offices of the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Kololo.
But the blink of an eye, Namakumbi narrated, two military vehicles full of operatives surfaced and before long, the personnel started battering everyone around.
“Many of us fell down, and the armed officers beat us to their satisfaction. When I fell down, I was hit at the back as I tried to pick up my shoes, the male officer threatened to kick my back if I didn’t get up there and then,”she said as tears formed in her eyes.
She said that she tried to get up and run again but failed and couldn’t run for her life anymore because the back was hurting.
“I fell down again. This is when colleagues came to my rescue. It was heart breaking to see comrades bleeding as the officers continued to run after us,”she stated.
She said what hurts her most is that all the journalists who had gone to cover the event had proper identification but this was music to the ears of military police officers who appeared as though they were high on something.
“We were trapped in a military ambush.With no doubt, this was an open attack on the media which has been the case repeatedly. The force can maybe release videos captured by security cameras to challenge this,”she said.
“We have families like you. We have jobs like you but we don’t attack anyone like you do. On this Black Media Thursday we ask you to respect us and not give us reasons to think that you are against journalists and want to finish us all,”she added.
The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) spokesperson,Brig Flavia Byekwaso said it is not correct to allege that journalists were targeted by security.
She explained that yesterday’s joint deployment was to deter processions.
“The procession of boda boda riders waited to force its way through… The group assaulted one of the security personnel at the cut off point and that required they be pushed back forcefully. Hence the scuffle. Therefore, it is not correct to allege that journalists were targeted,”she tweeted.
She said UPDF regrets that some journalists were injured as security carried out its duties.