KAMPALA - Business came to a standstill Thursday as thousands of anti-Rose Kabuye arrest protesters hit the streets of Kampala,Uganda.
They had joined the rest of the world to express their misgivings on the arrest of Rwanda’s Chief of State Protocol on November 9 in Frankfurt , Germany.
Chanting slogans like ‘Who do we want? Rose Kabuye. When do we want her? Now Now…France, shame on you!
Germany….shame on you! Release Kabuye….Release Kabuye,” protesters who included students from different Ugandan Universities, members of the Civil Society, Pan- Africanists, sympathisers and people from all walks of life converged at Buganda Road Primary School Play Ground. They were then addressed by Pastor Martin Ssempa and Grace Kabayo of the Pan African Global Movement, the protest organisers.
“We are assembled here to join our friends in Rwanda to condemn in the strongest terms, the acts of the French and Germans in arresting Rose Kabuye, a comrade and a sister and we demand for her immediate release and apology from the French,” Ssempa told the visibly angry crowd.
“Africa oyee, Africa oyee….we stand here as Africans united against the re-colonisation of Africa by the French and Germans. As Pan-Africanists, we must rise up and tell the French to release Kabuye now. She’s a freedom fighter and a mother, they should know that. They should be ashamed,” Kabayo told the crowd which was responding, “Shame………..shame.”
The protesters then marched to the French and German embassies, Parliament and EU delegation to deliver a document demanding for the immediate release of Kabuye.
Carrying placards with statements like ‘We condemn the Kidnapping of Rose Kabuye’, ‘Investigate France for Rwanda Genocide Crimes’, ‘Africa to boycott French Products’, ‘Why abuse women’s rights?’
And many others, the protesters who were in a buoyant mood peacefully descended onto Bombo Road, joining Kampala road before they branched off at Kampala Pentecostal Church, joining Lumumba avenue in Nakasero where the French Embassy is located.
The protesters guided by Police, approached the French mission, apparently catching the embassy officials off guard as they moved closer and closer to the heavily fortified and guarded ‘Ambassade’.
Lumumba Road, one of the busiest roads in Kampala, was blocked as protesters waving the Rwandan, AU and Pan African flags chanted anti-France slogans.
Sssempa, mounting a truck loaded with loudspeakers read the 2 page document which was to be given to the French Ambassador.
The crowd braved the afternoon heat for two hours until Kabayo and Ssempa, donning Release Kabuye T-Shirts and two Journalists were allowed entry into the embassy where they handed the petition to the French Ambassador to Uganda, Rene Forceville.
On return from what seemed a triumphant mission, Ssempa told the restless crowd that it didn’t matter whether French judges’ act with a high degree of independence with less Government influence like the ambassador was claiming, as long as Rose Kabuye was treated the way she was.
“All we want is the release of Kabuye or the French will see that Africans can act on their own. We will banish anything French, we will not refuel at Total, we will not use any of their products, we will freeze them out until they realize how angry we are,” he told the cheering crowd.
Snaking along Speke Road, the crowd headed to the Ugandan Parliament where they delivered the petition to the Speaker received by the Clerk to Parliament, Aeneaus Tandekwire on his behalf.
The protesters braved the hot sun and proceeded to the German embassy giving a document condemning Germans for their role in Kabuye’s arrest to the German ambassador to Uganda Reinhard Buchholz and the European Union delegation in Uganda.
Speaking to The New Times in Kampala, Joan Kakwenzire, a Presidential advisor on Poverty Eradication and human rights activist who was among the protestors, described the arrest as a total disregard of Human Rights and an act of aggression towards Rwanda ‘s sovereignty. She argued that the French were trying to cover up for the crimes they committed during the Genocide.
“It is them who should be arrested and prosecuted not Rose who was and is a victim of their crimes. This is an act of Neo-colonialism and there is no doubt, Rose will pull Rwanda out of Neo-colonialism,” she said.
Adding, “Africa must struggle and resist Neo-colonialism. It is clear that France is humiliated that Rwanda has resisted colonial influence.” She observed that if France succeeds with Rose, such acts that undermine the rights of Africans would continue.
Grace Kabayo, the Executive Director Pan African Movement in Uganda said that the arrest of the diplomat was illegal and as such, France had “kidnapped” her.
“We are not going to be colonised politically, economically and judicially. We demand that she is released immediately. Why do they want to keep her in France as if she has no home?” She added that the Pan African Movement would not stop the protest until Rose is released.