Outspoken Ugandan feminist and LGBTI ally Stella Nyanzi made good use of her time in Luzira Prison, while her supporters raised money to help pay her legal costs and support her family. [Update: She was released on bail on May 10.]
Nyanzi, an avid supporter of LGBTI rights and a contributor to this blog, was arrested on April 7 and charged with cyber harassment for referring to President Yoweri Museveni as “a pair of buttocks.”
She had been raising money to provide sanitary pads for needy Ugandan girls, but was ordered detained until a court hearing on April 25. The state has asked that Nyanzi be forced to undergo a psychiatric examination.
How to help
Nyanzi’s friends report:
Many people have been asking about how they can contribute to Stella’s legal fees as well as upkeep for her family while she is incarcerated.
A GoGetFunding page has been opened to help cover legal costs that have arisen from the charges lodged against her by the state and to keep her family taken care of. The goal is to raise $5,000 before Stella’s next court appearance on 25th April 2017. [As of April 18, the fund drive had collected $2,345, and technical problems that stymied early would-be donors had been solved.]
An MTN mobile phone number 0784447487, registered to Ruth Muganzi, will also be receiving contributions towards the same causes.
[Feb. 18 UPDATE: An online petition seeking Nyanzi’s release is on Avaaz.org. After supporters sign the petition, its organizers plan to submit it and demand her release at Ugandan High Commissions and Consulates around the world.]
Your support and encouragement mean a lot to Stella and her family; let us fight for this brave woman who has spoken a truth many have held onto for so long and help reunite her with her children
‘I choose to make the most of my time in prison’
This is the report from Thursday’s visitors to Luzira Prison, where Nyanzi has quickly busied herself with teaching English to inmates and learning from inmates how to sew and create crafts:
Today being the last day of the week that Stella could entertain visitors, many people went to see her ahead of the even-longer-than-usual weekend. Seated on a mat in her yellow dress, she seemed unfazed by her current reality; she told prison jokes and made us all realize that she is coping well.
Stella showed us a handcraft piece that’s in its initial stages and told us a fellow inmate is teaching her how to sew. She shared her surprise at the amazing crafts talent exhibited by the women in Luzira Prison and wondered why nobody is tapping into this space to help these women grow both their skills and revenues. To support them, she purchased a number of handmade mats, one of which she was seated on during our visit, several baskets and a shoulder bag.
We also asked her how she is coping. She put on her trademark smile and said:
“I have two options — to either be sad and frustrated or make the most of my time here and I choose the latter. I am learning a lot from these women and focusing on only positivity right now.”
When we posed this question, we anticipated that she would have reservations about spending Easter away from her family but her response reassured us, and hopefully it can reassure you all, that she is strong and focusing on continuing to impart knowledge, one way or the other.
At the Help #Free Stella Nyanzi site, the current fundraising goal is $5,000. As of publication of this article, $1,895 has been donated. The appeal states:
Help #Free Stella Nyanzi
Friends and colleagues of Ugandan activist, scholar, writer, mother and radical feminist Dr. Stella Nyanzi ask for your help to #FreeStellaNyanzi. Stella is an amazing human with a bold heart and humble spirit. For a long time, she has been generous with her words, life and love and has kept many followers glued to her regular Facebook posts. Her writing inspires, liberates and has fought for those whose right to dignity has been undermined.
Recently, Dr. Stella Nyanzi initiated a campaign to distribute sanitary products to schoolgirls in need. She has also used her constitutional right to critique the state of Uganda through social media.
On 7 April 2017, Dr. Stella Nyanzi was abducted and later charged, barred from exercising the right to freedom of expression. She has been denied bail. The next court hearing is on April 25th, 2017. Till then, she remains under police custody, suspended from her duties at the university and branded as mentally unstable.
How You Can Help
As friends and part of an international community of scholars we ask you to help #FreeStellaNyanzi. Various injustices have been committed against her by the state. With your help, we can cover part of the costs to help put pressure for the immediate release of Dr. Stella Nyanzi from Luzira Prison and demand an end to intimidation tactics towards Nyanzi and her family.
Articles on this blog by Stella Nyanzi:
- Isn’t distributing expired HIV drugs a sin? (July 2016, 76crimes.com)