By Andrew Irumba
The United States of America (USA) has condemned the violence being meted on students by security forces deployed at Makerere University.
In a statement released by the United States Embassy in Uganda, headed by Ambassador Deborah Malach, America vehemently lashed out at the military and police for brutalising students who were protesting against the 15% tuition increment, which resulted into strikes that spurn several days last week and even entered 5th day this week.
The strongly worded statement from the American embassy in Uganda reads thus; “The U.S. Mission in Uganda is increasingly concerned about the violence at Makerere University in response to ongoing protests against the proposed tuition increases. Footage of security services attacking unarmed students in their residence halls and attacks on journalists covering the protests are especially disturbing.”
The statement continues that; “This heavy-handed response by security services is uncalled for, and is a direct affront to the freedoms of assembly, speech and expression guaranteed by Uganda’s constitution. We urge the Government of Uganda to allow all Ugandans to exercise their basic rights peacefully and without fear.”
Meanwhile, students led by the guild President Julius Kateregga vowed to stage more strikes if the University management does not agree to their demands, which include rescinding all suspensions, freeing all students in detention, canceling the 15% tuition increment, removal of military and police from the university, plus improving the sanitation at the institution.
Kateregga said during a press conference held at Emerald Hotel today that ;
“We are not safe. We are all being hunted. They allege we are drug addicts and that we are being pushed by politicians. It is absurd for the University Management to allege that our colleague Mollie Siperia Saasirabo who is currently in intensive care is playing political games, when her life is in danger. Whatever they are alleging is not true at all. We just want to be heard; that we cannot afford paying the increased tuition. We are willing to pay and have always paid tuition. But we cannot afford the 15% increment. We want President Yoweri Museveni to intervene in this matter because it is a national issue, not a political one. Students studying at the University are from all over Uganda, not a particular political affiliation. They are brutalising us yet we need their help. We held peaceful demos and they reacted with violence, teargas, bullets?
He added that “We shall not give up until the University Management drops the 15% tuition increment and our other demands. We are very welcome to dialogue with University Management such that we can get amicable solutions for our problems. We have always been is constant communication with Management and even wrote them many letters about the matter but they never acted on them. We even wrote many letters to President Museveni but they have been intercepted by some people who block them from reaching him.”
He also said that in care the University decided to rescind the 15% tuition increment, they should officially write to the Guild Representative and the Office of the Guild President, clearly stating their position.