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Lwamayuba Island after Eviction of Fishermen

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Ronald Ssemagulu, a trader on Bukasa Island, which is close to Lwamayuba, says it is now risky to dock on to the island without prior communication with the area chairperson, Musa Kizito.
Security officers in a cargo boat heading to Lwamayuba island

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The eerie opening of the check point by security officers at Lwamayuba Island in Bufumira Sub County in Kalangala district welcomes new entrants to the security installation by the Internal Security Organization-ISO. 

Moments after, security operatives and people dressed in orange overalls are called to pull the boat to the main land as food, plates, cups and beddings are offloaded.

At this point, no civilian is allowed to go past the check point as security officers discuss what to do. 

One of the officers only identified as Nasser is asked to brief the civilians on what to do when at the security installation. Among the regulations is that no one is allowed to take photographs on the island. 

Lwamayuba Island, which was previously a fishing hub, is now deserted by the locals. It also used to act as a temporary breeding area for cage fish farmers. 

It borders Buyovu Island in the South East, Bufumira in the South, Kitobo in the north and Ziiru Island in the East. 

The island was home close to 700 people about four years ago before it was closed by the Uganda People’s Defense Forces fisheries protection unit in August 2018. 

But only a handful of people including the elderly are residents on the landing sites. 

However, none of the residents are allowed to wonder around or fish on the 52 acre Island, which is about 26 nautical miles away from Kasenyi landing site. 

The island is now home to ISO operatives and detainees. Last week, parliament asked the Human Rights Committee of Parliament to investigate rights violation in a safe house on Lwamayuba Island and Kyengera.

It came after Latif Ssebagala, the Kawempe North Member of Parliament and his Arua municipality counterpart, Kasiano Wadri complained about torture in the two safe houses. 

Security Minister, Gen. Elly Tumwine is expected to present a detailed statement to the house about the alleged torture in the two safe houses.

However, in a brief statement issued last week, Tumwine said the two are rehabilitation centers and not torture chambers as claimed. 

According to our reporter, the island hosts more than 30 operatives from the Internal Security Organization and more than 60 suspected criminals who dress in the orange uniform.   

The suspects are involved in different activities including digging, cooking, fetching water and the construction of new facilities. 

There are five large tents on the island, which are reportedly used for interrogation, according to one of the suspects. 

Ronald Ssemagulu, a trader on Bukasa Island, which is close to Lwamayuba, says it is now risky to dock on to the island without prior communication with the area chairperson, Musa Kizito.   

//Cue in: “Kati olwokuba twatambudde …    

Cue out: … ekinaala kikomyeewo kigibawe.”//      

During day, a medical team from Bufumira Sub County delivers medicine to the island and also examines the new detainees. 

“When we reached this place, we were guided by security personnel at a check point and were prohibited from taking any photograph. New facilities have been constructed and there is increased security. We only go there to carry out testing and counseling activities on the officers there,” a health worker told our reporter on condition of anonymity. 

Occasionally, suspects can be heard crying from the island.  Musa Mukasa, one of the officers at Lwamayuba island disputes claims of torture. 

He says the island has been turned into a rehabilitation center where all those arrested in the Kampala and Wakiso murders and other capital offenses are rehabilitated from.  

 

//Cue in: “Nzijukira wajjako ku … 

Cue out: … obaki, okubajja bantu.”//   

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