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.
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.
-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…”
-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”.
-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”.
-Kampala Metropolitan Police commander, Andrew Felix Kaweesi addresses journalists who were protesting the continued occupancy of The Daily Monitor and Red Pepper-
….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.
-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.
-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.
-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.
……..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.
-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.
-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,”
-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;
-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-
-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-
-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-
-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-
-This is what was left of the News Editor-Weekends’ desk!-