By Andrew Irumba
Religious Leaders in Uganda have joined several other people and organisations in condemning the brutality unleashed unto Makerere University students by the police and military who were deployed to quell protests against the 15% tuition increment.
On Sunday, the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Uganda led by the Chairperson of Uganda Episcopal Conference Joseph Anthony Zziwa, the Bishop of Kiyinda Mityana Diocese, lambasted armed forces for responding to the peaceful protests staged by students with excessive force, yet the students were unarmed and protesting for a genuine reason.
The Bishops noted that the excessive force applied by security agents while arresting students, journalists and opposition politicians was unnecessary and naked violation of human dignity and rights.
In a statement signed by Bishop Zziwa, the Bishops termed the brutality as abuse of power.
They called for respect of Article 24 and 44(a) of the Constitution which mandates everybody to respect human rights and dignity.
“The same Constitutional Provisions guarantee the right to protection from inhuman and degrading treatment by prohibiting any forms of torture, cruelty, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” the Bishops’ statement dated November 08, 2019 reads in part.
The bishops also hailed Members of Parliament for condemning the brutality and urged all parties in the disagreement to choose dialogue over violence.
“It will not help to make our country a family where everybody cannot live in peace and harmony. We therefore call upon government to promote dialogue and to always listen to the grievances of its citizens,” the Bishops noted in their Statement.
The statement drafted during the November 4-8th Assembly of the Uganda Episcopal Conference was released to the Press on Sunday by Father Phillip Odii, the Executive Secretary for Social Communications.
The Bishops called upon individuals, communities and institutions to respect the rule of law and endeavor to seek peaceful ways of resolving conflicts.
The Makerere University fees strike broke out on October 22,2019 as students protected institution policy to annually increase tuition by 15 percent.
Students opposed to the increment assert that it will affect private sponsored students and deny them basic fundamental human rights – education.
Although the violence has subsided, several students were injured, many were suspended by University administration, while others are still nursing wounds or coming to terms with the trauma that resulted from the brutality.