Monday, 1 August 2011

In Uganda, suspicious 'burglary' at LGBT group

Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera
By Paul Canning

See below for how to support FARUG

On Saturday 30 July the office of Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG), one of Uganda's main LGBT groups which was founded in 2003, was broken into. Much was stolen, including a members list, and there was suspicious destruction which suggests a homophobic motive.

The burglars left cash in a donation glass in the lobby of the organization untouched. They also did not touch a new television set in the organisation’s resource centre.

The group say that Ugandan police have failed as of today to provide any help at all or visit the crime scene.

Update, 2 August: FARUG say that, following the intervention of their lawyers, police have now started an investigation and visited the crime scene. They have been told that there is a high chance of tracing the criminals because the acid which was used was "of the rare kind".

The location of LGBT group offices in Kampala, Uganda, is kept secret because of the fear of harassment or attack.

The burglary was reported by FARUG leader Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, who was given the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in May. She wrote:
"It is with great sadness that I write to inform you that FARUG offices were broken into on Saturday night. Five computers, two printers, server, microwave and some docs including the members electronic database were stolen."
"A jerrican of acid, one computer, all paddlocks filled with acid and a huge metallic pipe were left in the compound. The office lines were also taken and thus we shall only be able to be contacted on our personal phones and the office mobile hotline," she wrote.
The office was empty at the time and the group expressed relief that no one was physically harmed.

Update: Kasha Jacqueline has told Beyond The Mask that:
“It seems they were looking for information and data. These are not ordinary thieves.”
Nabagesera wrote that:
"The mood is very low, trauma and worries are filled with members."
"We also thank those that have helped thus far, sending words of encouragement and also those that have visited us since Saturday."
We understand that international supporters are asking for Foreign Ministries to press the Ugandan government to get the police to investigate before the crime scene is destroyed.

Update, August 2: FARUG say that four days before the burglary of their offices, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) offices were broken into, however someone was present in the building. They say:
"We wish to inform all other human rights organizations in the country to be security conscious   whether this was a targeted burglary or not."

FARUG have asked for "all kinds of support financially, technically and emotionally". The group say that they need to:
  • Hire a security guard
  • Install security cameras and buy a generator, due to power problems in Uganda
  • Replace stolen equipment
  • Purchase backups for computers
  • Internet installation
  • You can make payments to FARUG at PayPal account
They say:
"The struggle continues. These kinds of things are just one way of distracting us. We shall not give in to them."

Nabagesera is a prominent and visible lesbian activist in Uganda. In May she debated the lead author of the 'kill gays' bill, MP David Bahati on Voice of America television. She has faced slander and death threats and says she has to move from house-to-house as a result.

The Ugandan police investigation of the murder of activist David Kato, in January, has been strongly criticised. Prominent Ugandan journalist Charles Onyango-Obbo wrote in February that "the public has every right to be suspicious that the whole show has been fixed."

FARUG had announced the launch of a anti-hate campaign next week. Nabagesera wrote that this would be going ahead and a community meeting for it would take place today in the burgled office.

Nabagesera is to open the Belfast Pride Festival, Northern Ireland, August 24.
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1 comment:

  1. Too sad :(((( for how long is this going to continue????ugandan government needs to be serious for a while.


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