Challenges to Press Freedom in Uganda

Harriet Anena, a deputy Chief sub-editor at The Daily Monitor was in her own world of pressure from the looming masters exams when the news came through.

“Baibs….the Demons, they haunt, this time hard!!” a workmate wrote on her wall Facebook wall.1

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: A lone female journalist with The Independent Magazine -Uganda defiantly stands right in-front of a sea of Policemen, demanding The Daily Monitor, Kfm, Dember fm and Red Pepper to be opened. The publications were closed for running a letter that was written to the Director of Internal Security Organization (ISO), asking for an inquiry into alleged assassination plot of those opposed to a purported “Muhoozi Project”. Brig. Muhoozi Kainerugaba is the son to President Yoweri Museveni. It’s been rumored that Museveni, who has been president of Uganda for the last 27 years is grooming Muhoozi to take over from him, thus, the “Muhoozi Project”-

Anena, realized instantly that something had gone wrong. Really wrong. After making a call or two, she confirmed beyond doubt that security operatives had besieged her work place.

2

-A police officer guards the entrance to The Daily Monitor newspaper that was declared a crime scene. while searching for a letter purportedly written by Gen. David Sejusa, published by the newspaper.The letter was written to the Director of Internal Security Organization, asking for an inquiry into alleged assassination plot of those opposed to a purported “Muhoozi Project”-

Calm, shy, astute, hardworking with an inseparable love for writing is what best describes Anena.

Replying to her friend on reading the message, she simply wrote; “ Oh mehn, we’ll b gd, keep strong…”

3

-Police officers are seen enjoying the balcony of The Daily Monitor premises in Namuwongo that was stormed and closed off as a crime scene while searching for a letter purportedly written by Gen. David Sejusa, published by the newspaper.The letter was written to the Director of Internal Security Organization, asking for an inquiry into alleged assassination plot of those opposed to a purported “Muhoozi Project”-

The Police had stormed The Daily Monitor premises to search for a letter purportedly written by Gen. David Sejusa that was published in the paper.

The letter was written to the Director of Internal Security Organization, asking for an inquiry into alleged assassination plot of those opposed to a purported “Muhoozi Project”.

4

-Human Rights bodies joined the fight for freedom of expression by carrying a “dead pen” in a “coffin”. In their message, they called on government to spare the whistle blower and instead deal with the “real criminals”.Eventually, Police broke their protest and arrested about five of them-

 

Brig. Muhoozi Kainerugaba is the son to President Yoweri Museveni. Its been rumored that President Museveni who has been president of Uganda for the last 27 years is grooming Muhoozi to take over from him, thus, the “Muhoozi Project”.

5

-Kampala Metropolitan Police commander, Andrew Felix Kaweesi addresses journalists who were protesting the continued occupancy of The Daily Monitor and Red Pepper-

AF3E2387

….And when diplomacy failed, the journalists were sprayed with teargas, followed by some brutal arrests !-

Gen. Sejusa has since failed to return to Uganda fearing for his life and has reportedly been asking the British Government for protection while in the UK where he had gone to when the letter was published.

6

-Ronald Muhinda, a journalist with Uganda’s Radio One fm is forcefully thrown out of the cordoned area during the “Occupy The Daily Monitor and Red Pepper” protest. He lost his belt in the scuffle, registering minor injuries along the way-

The news hit Anena unexpectedly hard, like hundreds other journalists and staff at The Daily Monitor. Confounded with exams to write, she passed close to the premises that very evening of May 20 on her way to university to confirm what was already an operation gone deep.

7

-A defiant journalist with The Independent Magazine takes a picture of a police who was ordering her to vacate the area. The two Policemen standing behind her eventually managed to rough her off the cordoned area-

After sitting her exams, her last word for the day when The Daily Monitor was closed before calling it a day was one of irritation, but with a mixture of hope too.

“We shall keep watching until the dog chokes on its puke. #WatchDog,” she said.

8

-A week after The Daily Monitor, The Red Pepper, Kfm and Dembe fm remained, journalists took to the streets to demand that the media houses be re-opened. Their peaceful protests were met with full force of the Uganda Police. Here, journalists wash their faces after Police fired teargas was fired at them in one of the protests they called “Occupy The Daily Monitor and Red Pepper”-

The following days were going full of confusion and uncertainty as to when the government would finish their search and leave the premises.

While ongoing negotiations between government and the proprietors of Nation Media Group (NMG) where Daily Monitor is a subsidiary went behind the walls, journalists organized daily protests outside the Monitor premises to protest the continued occupancy of the Daily Monitor and Red Pepper.

9

……..And the cheers became louder and louder as reporters returned to their working station-

Many of them were teargased and beaten for peacefully protesting, others, were brutality arrested and detained for prolonged hours before let free after recording statements.

10

-Documents are seen scattered on the floor of The Daily Monitor’s newsroom. The chairs too were thrown in all directions as the search for the letter Gen. David Sejusa purportedly wrote and was subsequently published by Daily Monitor ended-

Amidst these all these challenges, The Daily Monitor had (has) to contend with an ongoing case where the newspaper took the matter to the Civil Division of the High Court to hear an appeal to have a lower court decision that The Daily Monitor hand over documents in the Gen. David Sejusa story to police reversed.

11

-Rachel Mabala, a photojournalist shares a light moment with a colleague while filing pictures for the newspaper’s re-opening, 12 days after it was stormed and closed by government-

Anena meanwhile finished her exams in the mix of things and is more than excited when the minister of internal affairs, Hilary Onek announced;

“The police have called off the cordon of the Monitor premises so that they can resume their normal business as police continue with the search,”

12

-The Daily Monitor staff is seen gathered in silence while watching news on NTV Uganda about the publications re-opening at their offices in Namuwongo, a suburb of Kampala, Uganda’s capital-

After close to two weeks, Anena had this to say on her Facebook wall;

“Back to office n it’s all smiles, hugs n laughter. Even the brutal police commander is shaking my hands today…”13

-The Daily Monitor wasn’t the only casualty when Security Operatives stormed and cordoned off the premises as a crime area, 93.3 Kfm, a subsidiary of Nation Media Group was also closed. Staff of Kfm back in studio for the first time in 11 days begin preparations to resume normal programing-

14-The Daily Monitor wasn’t the only casualty when Security Operatives stormed and cordoned off the premises as a crime area, 93.3 Kfm, a subsidiary of Nation Media Group was also closed.Above is Sean Oseku, producer of one of Uganda’s most listened to political radio talk-shows; “The Hot Seat”. He was back in the studio for first time since the station was switched off air on May 20-

15-Photojournalist, Isaac Kasamani too the time to relax to the fullest as he often did even before the The Daily Monitor Publication was closed. Here, he was going through the re-opening images at the newsroom-

16-Even after The Daily Monitor was opened, the Managing Editor, Don Wanyama was often seen isolated making calls, texting and organizing his team of reporters to ensure the newspaper gets back to the streets 12 days after it was closed-

17

-This is what was left of the News Editor-Weekends’ desk!-

51 thoughts on “Challenges to Press Freedom in Uganda

    • From Uganda, we thank you for standing with us. Cruz, its always an honor to have you on my blog.

      Greetings from Uganda!

    • The U.S is battling the Wiki Leaks issue too right now. So, i do agree with you. Thank you though for taking time to visit my blog and leaving behind a graceful comment too.

      Looking forward to sharing ideas with you interlinking US and Uganda.

      Cheers

      • Ur really an inspiration 2 me,despire the fact dat photography is part of mi….I lyk yo conceptual photography……..

      • Hajarah,

        Its an honor to me! As you looking through, i hope you learn a few things here an d there!

        Cheers for now!

    • The Earth,

      It was a tough struggle, but we sailed through. We expect it to be even tougher int he future but we are always expecting this kind of treatment from the government. So we are always prepared.

      Thank you again for paying my blog a visit!

    • I wish you had come to witness how brutal the police can get. It wasnt a good site but the fight had to go on nonetheless!

      • Your works are just breath taking. I hv jotted down many ideas frm here. It gives me an honour to know that we all went to UCU journalism school

      • Actually, i went to Makerere University, Journalism department. Sorry for the confusion but i’ve worked with many journalism graduates from UCU and i’ve been so impressed!

  1. Pingback: Links zum Wochenende #39 | Claire Grauer

    • Linda,

      I notice this is your first time or at least, the fewest times you have been to my blog. And i thought i would welcome you officially.

      Thanks for appreciating! Thank you for taking the time. Am believing you enjoyed yourself for all the time you were perusing through.

      Looking forward to your next visit.

      Cheers

    • Michael,

      Its an honor to pull you away from the world of “Softwares +Apps” to this side of the world too.

      Sometimes i wish i had as much technical knowledge as you in the field of IT but well, am not complaining that much in my field of photography.

      But i appreciate you kind words. Lots of “futures” have passed through your hands and you can only imagine how important your words mean to me and my professional

      Thank you!

  2. Well told pictorial story here. Hopefully the story can go further out into the world so people can actually know that the situation in Uganda is far from okay. The media here is basically powerless and totally toothless, thanks to a Government that uses everything in its power to frustrate the work of would-be independent journalists. Great work Edward. Great work indeed.

    • I actually believe the story made its rounds out there! There was mounting pressure from the West on the government. So, though some kind of “deal” was signed to have the publications opened, i believe Government also had it rough on their tales!

  3. How well I recall 1971 and the brutal years that followed throughout Uganda. Voices were silenced en masse. You and fellow journalists have enormous responsibility and means to keep pressure on today’s leadership. Again and again you are proving that you are not just a pretty face with enchanting photos to share. You have become an important force.

    Mzuri from the U.S.

    • Am glad with internet making the world, we’ll do our best in trying to provide as much information to check those tasked with the responsibility of leading this beautiful country.

      Thank you for sharing your rich knowledge of history

  4. Pingback: Monitor siege and future of independent media in Uganda | RUMBLINGS

  5. Without freedom of press there is no democracy. You ugandan journalists and photographers are doing a very important fight, and great to see your report and pictures. It is such a good thing it can be shared with the world. Keep up the good work, and take care.

  6. Pingback: Why We Need Echwalu To Keep Snapping | Ernest Bazanye

  7. Echwalu,
    I just came back from a 3 month visit to the island of Madagascar, and took a lot of images, plus, I took your list of advice with me!
    As your images are striking , and I love to see the way you ‘ jump’ around while taking them. I have concidered that a travel to the main land, Afrika, is going to be the next focus. You are so close to your subject, that feels good while looking at your work. I carried a camera, with a 70mm lens around with me for the first time. But this camera, a big and to heavy machine made the possibility of hiding very difficult. Solution; I will be taking a tiny camera with me next time.
    below a link to my post you might want to see.
    thanks for your precious time.

    kindest regards,
    Belinda
    http://belindaclaushuis.wordpress.com/2013/07/27/the-tag-is-water/

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