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Hooded for 73 Days, Kyotera Abductees Return Tightlipped

Consumed by fear and trauma of what they went through, almost all of them were unwilling to freely tell people and journalists who flocked to their homes on Tuesday morning to stare at them and listen to their stories.
24 Mar 2021 16:52
Kiwanuka sandwiched by people who were listening to his story

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On Monday night,  the18 people who were abducted from Kisamula village in Kasaali town council, Kyotera District on January 8th 2020 returned home. Like recent abductees who returned home, they were dropped kilometers to Kyotera town—where they were had been picked.

Consumed by fear and trauma of what they went through, almost all of them were unwilling to freely tell people and journalists who flocked to their homes on Tuesday morning to stare at them and listen to their stories. 

  

It was Lukyamuzi Kiwanuka Yuda who agreed to tell a bit of the story  how he was arrested. On the day they were arrested, he was at home sleeping when he suddenly heard people knocking on his door. He refused to open. They broke the door. They were many soldiers.

  

They started beating him immediately. Kiwanuka was number six to be arrested, he says. When he was hurled into the drone, he was hooded. Since that day, he can’t tell where he was taken. What he suspects is that the cars drove towards Kampala. 

  

Kiwanuka says they were beaten from Kyotera up to the house where they were being detained. He suspects that the house is in Kampala. Kiwanuka also says he was being accused that he is a terrorist. Soldiers asked him to avail names of terrorists he was training. 

//Cue in: “zari sawa nga… 

Cue out:…nokutusa obude buno.”//

  

Kiwanuka says when they reached the house where they were imprisoned, they were not beaten again, except those who attempted to misbehave such as trying to pull off the hood. In this house, they were handcuffed with nylon lopes and hooded day and night. 

  

When it was time for eating or drinking porridge, the the hood would be pulled just above the nose. Then a plate of food or cup of porridge would be placed in a detainee’s hands. After eating, the head was entirely hooded again. 

  

They were also showering, Kiwanuka says. For those who wanted to bathe, he says they would be escorted to a small bathroom. They would only be allowed to remove the hood after entering and the door is locked. After showering, they would be required to put on their hood and knock on the door and be taken back to where they had been sitting.

  

//Cue in: “seventy five days… 

Cue out:…seeing any light.”//   

They would also occasionally wash. And when it was time for washing, Kiwanuka says they would undress. The clothes would be collected by soldiers. Some of the detainees would be taken to bathroom to wash clothes. The detainees stayed naked until the clothes were brought back. “When they brought back clothes, they would drop them in the middle and ask you to find your shirt or trouser when hooded. You would start touching, touching clothes until you got your shirt or trouser,” he says. Those who mistakenly put on other detainees’ clothes  would be kicked, Kiwanuka says.

  

Kiwanuka says they left in the house many more people whose number he cannot guess. It’s was a storied house and he would hear noise in upper floors. Kiwanuka also says people would occasionally murmur in the room where he was detained.   

An admirer of Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine of National Unity Platform (NUP), Kiwanuka says he was not his vocal supporter. He also says he did not participate in the November 18th riot.    

Cue in: “twalese yo abalala… 

Cue out:…mukutukwata yagwa.”// 

  

The returnees were looking healthy though with visible scars on arms and for some on the head. Other seemed to be limping. One of the returnees was immediately taken to the hospital for medication. This reporter was told the hospitalized returnees was “not in good shape.”

       

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