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Abductions Have Taught us to Shut Up - Kyotera Citizens

From misery and desperation of searching for missing loved ones to ululations of having them back, the community has learnt one lesson: keep your mouth shut on politics. That is the response Uganda Radio Network got from interviews conducted.
26 Mar 2021 10:56
People gather at one of the homes on Tuesday morning to welcome a family member who returned from abduction

Audio 3



Crowds formed at one of the homes whose member had returned after 73 days of abduction. Thrilled to see community members back, crowds gathered in small groups as they chatted or listened to stories of the returnees.

  

Everyone who turned up was curious to glance at the returnees, greet and tell them: “We are happy to see you back, we prayed for you every day.” A man in his sixties went on his knees, clasped his rosary and prayed after greeting two of the returnees. 

  

This was the scene in Kisamula village in Kasaali town council, Kyotera District on the morning of Tuesday 23rd 2021 as they woke to the news that 18 people who had been kidnapped from the community earlier in January had returned home.

  

From misery and despair, searching and finally ululations of having the loved ones back, the community learnt a serious lesson: to keep quiet politically.That is the response Uganda Radio Network got from interviewees conducted in the village.

  

“All that happened to them is because they showed their sides,” Nampija Maureen said after a long moment reflection. “I will not show again that I am for this or that side.” 

Though Nampija had led women dancing and jubilating minutes earlier before being approached, her face turned visibly depressed as returnees started telling their horror stories. 

  

The torture they endured, she argues, wasn’t proportional to the sin of supporting Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, the National Unity Platform (NUP) presidential candidate in the January 14th.

She adds that even supporting the opponent of State Minister for Microfinance and Small Enterprises Haruna Kasolo, for area Member of Parliament, did not warrant the torture and torment inflicted on the abduction victims.

//Cue in: “nze ngomuntu kyezizemu 

Cue out:…byaffe mukasilise.”//  

It’s the same point that Mutesasira Gerald makes - that the crime the abductees committed was openly showing the side they support.He says during the dreadful detention days, some of the abductees were told they had bombs and guns which is a blatant lie. “We work with these people every day, we know them, we have lived with them for years, none of them even knows how to fire a gun,” he says.

  

Most of the abductees were unwilling to freely chat with people and journalists who flocked to their homes on Tuesday morning to glance at them and listen to their stories.It was Lukyamuzi Kiwanuka Yuda, a rice trader, who agreed to tell a bit of the story how he was arrested and some of the questions he was being asked. Kiwanuka said he was accused of being a terrorist and soldiers asked him to avail names of terrorists he was training.

  

“I told them that I have never been a terrorist or trained rebels,” he responded to the  soldiers. Kiwanuka said he was also asked if he supports Bobi Wine which he admitted. Other abductees were also asked whether they supported Bobi Wine. Some said yes while other said no. But even for those who said no, it did not save them from the same treatment as those who admitted to the 'crime' of supporting the opposition.

  

When dealing with politics, especially supporting opposition candidates, Mutesasira says, it’s important to keep quiet.

  

//Cue in: “kyenjizemu kabanga abasinga… 

Cue out:…sikyilungi kulaga side.”//  

John Mugambi says the abduction taught him that the rights of an ordinary Ugandan can be abused by security agencies any time. He says security agencies should always control their tempers especially during politically charged seasons. Mugambi says he has learnt that it is important to first study any political environment before making a decision for instance about how to express political support.

  

//Cue in: “nze nga nze… 

Cue out:…abamany na abatamanyi.”//

  

Ssemakula Henry, a lawyer born in the area says the community went through a lot of  pain in the 73 days of abduction. “People have hated this government more because of misery they have gone through,” he says.  

A Eucharistic thanksgiving Mass was hastily convened.

Fr Vincent Kiggundu who led the Mass urged returnees and their families to forgive. “If you’re to heal both physically and mentally, you should forgive. You will not recover from trauma unless you forgive. That is what psychology tells us,” he told them.    

“What you went through, you will tell it for the rest of your life, forgive even when those who tortured you don’t care,” he said. 

  

But Ssemakula says it will be hard to forgive quickly because of pain the community went through.   

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