On August 13 2018, Wine, along with four other MPs and dozens of others were arrested and beaten while campaigning for the opposition in Arua, a town near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. During the operation, security forces shot and killed Wine’s driver. Museveni was also in Arua that day, stumping for the ruling-party candidate. After the campaigns ended, the president’s convoy collided with a procession of opposition supporters on a main road, and, according to witnesses, ran some of them into the ditch by the side of the road. The police claim that members of the angry crowd began shouting and throwing rocks, one of which broke the window of one of Museveni’s vehicles. On social media, many have questioned this claim, since pictures showed the window in question to have been cleanly removed, with no hanging shards of glass, and in any case, presidential vehicles are normally armored, bulletproof, and impervious to stones.

The convoy delivered Museveni to his waiting helicopter, and then unleashed terror, arresting and torturing Wine and the others. The detainees, who included members of the opposition campaign team as well as bystanders who happened to be on the scene, have all been charged with treason. When they emerged from a police bus for a bail hearing on August 27, several, including Wine, were on crutches and had to be carried down the steps. Wine and several others are scheduled to be flown out of the country for specialized treatment in the coming days.

After the arrests, anti-Museveni demonstrations broke out in London, Nairobi, Stockholm, Melbourne, Washington, Boston, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, and other cities around the world. Wine’s family has retained a high-powered Washington legal firm, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on Uganda to investigate the torture of the detainees and other acts of police violence. More than 80 prominent musicians and artists—including Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, and Chrissie Hynde—signed a letter supporting Wine and the other Ugandan detainees. Lawmakers in the United States, the UK, Kenya, and elsewhere have expressed shock at Museveni’s brutality.

Originally published in the Nation by Helen Epstein

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