I can’t remain silent, Barbie tells BBC

Barbie Kyagulanyi, the wife of jailed Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine was left in utter disbelief after seeing her husband for the first time on Friday at Makindye Military Police Barracks were he is detained.

The musician cum politician is nursing grave body injuries he suffered at the hands of Special Forces Command (SFC), the elite guard unit of President Yoweri Museveni, that arrested him in Arua on August 13.

Later in the evening, Barbie spoke to BBC World Service’s Julian Marshall on the state of her husband.

HAFITHA ISSA transcribed the interview and below are the excerpts.

In Uganda, the military being condemned by both the United States and the European Union for their brutal treatment this week of Members of Parliament. Among the MPs was pop star turned politician Robert (Kyagulanyi) best known as Bobi Wine who is an outspoken critic of President Yoweri Museveni.

He was arrested on Tuesday then charged with illegal possession of fire arms. His lawyer says when he appeared before the military court, Mr. Wine could barely see, talk or walk. His wife Barbie went to see him today.

We were seated in the room then they brought him to us. Two people were holding him one on one side and the other on the other side. But he was not walking he was pulling his legs on the floor. He was not taking steps. When they brought him his face was swollen. His head is swollen he has cuts on the ears and the side part of the head.

The eyes are swollen but you can see something in there like eyes and they are red. His lips were big and then he had a blood clot in his nose. When he was brought to sit in a chair, he was literally put in a plastic chair but he could not sit upright. He had to bend and sit on one hip in the chair. The legs were spread and the head was pushed backward and he was seated in the chair with his hip, we talked all the time and I did not see him turn himself in the chair.

So he was able to talk?

He was able to talk but he would take some time to talk to you. Because he had difficulty in breathing, he could take some time to catch breath then speak, but he talked to us, yes he talked to us.

And did he tell you how he sustained those injuries?

Yes, he gave us a summary because we had limited time, so he said that when they broke into his room, he raised his hands in the air standing, then they told him to kneel down. He knelt down and then someone had an iron bar, one of the people who came to arrest him had an iron bar and hit him on the head. He became kind of unconscious after so many hours is when is when he got up and realized that he was in detention but he says he woke up while he was sleeping in a pool of blood.

Because the government says that he sustained these injuries in a course of a scuffle when he was arrested

I can’t give you a story of who is right and who is wrong but I believe when you are arresting someone whom you find in a room and you’re more in number, you do not barter him up like what I saw. If it is an injury you get from a scuffle it cannot be as deep as what I saw.

What about the specific charge of possession of a fire arm, what did your husband have to say about that?

It is laughable, in fact it was not in so much of the main point because he knows it’s unbelievable.
Even the people in this country cannot believe that my husband has ever owned a gun, touched one or even had any training in that.
He has lived in the limelight, people know every little thing about us. If he had had a gun it would have made news in this country long time ago.

So why would the authority fabricate charges against your husband, why would they beat him up in a way that you say they have?

He is a politician and he has influenced the population mainly on the opposition side so I think everything happening now is as a result of not supporting the government and what it does.

And actually telling them that what they are doing is not right. So because we are in a state where we are in a dictatorship, I am not surprised that that is how they handle the people who do not support the wrong that they do.

Aren’t you worried about speaking up in the way that you are now?

I am worried, I am scared. Anything can happen to me but we can’t all keep quiet this is my husband, this is the father of my children and I support him in whatever he does especially when what he is doing is right and I know he is doing the right thing for the majority of the people in this country and for me if I have to speak this way to save his life because he is now rotting in the military barracks detention, a civilian like him; he was not supposed to be there. So I will speak and they can do whatever they want because this is the level that we are at. We just can’t keep quiet and watch things fall apart.