Reports are coming in of an attack by Ugandan Police in Kampala as they just stormed the Refugee Law Project Offices which happens to host the LGBT secretariat [the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law]. Damage was caused and equipment confiscated.
This is what it is like for NGO’s right now in Uganda, as they are under attack. I woke up at 3:00 am PST, broad daylight in Uganda, to find this panicked note from an LGBTI activist:
“Jeeesssuuuu!!! Police and some goons just stormed refugee law project offices and they just carried away office equipment. Locked my self in the coalition office where they haven’t come yet… F’in hell! What are they looking for,,, things are breaking.. Everything has been thrown out… My god”
The Refugee Law Project (RLP) was established in 1999 to provide legal aid to asylum seekers and refugees in Uganda. This was in response to an extensive research project led by Dr Barbara Harrell-Bond and Dr Guglielmo Verdirame. They found that, despite Uganda’s strong international reputation for providing asylum to refugees, refugees did not always enjoy their rights in accordance with domestic and international law.
“The Refugee Law Project (RLP) seeks to ensure fundamental human rights for all asylum seekers, refugees, and internally displaced persons within Uganda. We envision a country that treats all people within its borders with the same standards of respect and social justice. We work to see that all people living in Uganda, as specified under national and international law, are treated with the fairness and consideration due fellow human beings.”
Activist journalist Andy Kopsa adds a Ugandan activist’s follow-up from the scene:
We are all safe, no staff member was hurt or arrested. But equipment was vandalised and destroyed. Apparently the ‘raid’ was due to a planned forced eviction from a building that apparently has ‘two owners’, planned by one rival landlord. Thankfully,the coalition equipment and documents are safe as they forcefully tried but didn’t manage to access our office. Calm is restored.
I doubt very much the landlord dispute – a planned forced eviction. It seems incredibly tactical, unannounced and beyond the eviction of just one group. However, dueling owners – could be. But viewed in light of the new Minister of Internal Affairs pledge to crackdown on “activists” and NGOs and the last several years of increasing militarization of Museveni’s government it is hard to not think the worst about the raid.
For more information, read the full O-blog-dee article “NGO is attacked in Kampala” and Kopsa’s article “Uganda: Crackdown on LGBT orgs., Langa’s anti-gay hate rally this weekend.”
- Investing in refugees: new solutions for old problems (guardian.co.uk)
- Uganda unprepared for influx of DRC refugees (IRINnews.org)