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One Year Later, Ashiraf Kasirye Yet to Regain Normal Health

A common saying goes that time heals, but Ashiraf doesn’t think he will never heal from the brutality that was meted out on him last year. He wonders how tormentors of people can actually go back home and have a good night's sleep. What do these people tell their children when they go back home after all the bad things they have done to other people’s children! Ashiraf wonders.
19 Nov 2021 18:01
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Audio 5



Ashiraf Kasirye, a former journalist working with Ghetto TV, an online TV affiliated to the National Unity Platform-NUP suffered a partial amnesia after a nearly fatal shooting at Masaka in December last year while covering a campaign rally of then presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu.

Even when his cognizance levels have greatly improved since the last time Uganda Radio Network interviewed him in February, nonetheless he gets some lapses; forgetting what he has been talking about or where he stopped talking when his conversation is interrupted.

But there is one event that can never slip out of Ashiraf’s mind; it happened on November 18 2020. 

Yesterday marked one year after the debilitating riots that broke out in Kampala and other townships across the country after the arrest of Kyagulanyi. 

Government puts to 54, the number of people killed in the two days’ riots but rights groups say the number is anything above 100 people. 

This story of November has its origin in Luuka district of Busoga, eastern Uganda. It is the story that Ashiraf will never forget. It is encrypted in his head that no software or malware can crack it. 

Ashiraf had gotten used to the idea of police and other security forces breaking up campaign rallies of Kyagulanyi with rubber bullets, teargas, pepper spray, water cannons and oftentimes, live ammunition. 

He had learnt the art of dodging all. In an interview with Uganda Radio Network, Ashiraf, who is still recovering from the injuries he sustained in Masaka, recalls that before Kyagulanyi was arrested and the subsequent riots, he [Kasirye] had already gotten a dose of security brutality.

He says when they got to Luuka, they found unprecedented levels of deployment of all manner of security forces surrounding the venue where Kyagulanyi was slated to address the people.

At first, the men and women in uniform seemed not to bother anyone. But the calmness of the lake was interrupted by a violent political wind when Kyagulanyi was invited to speak. All manner of explosives were let loose. Ashiraf held on relaying what was happening live on Ghetto TV. 

It seemed like someone in security was also watching and didn’t like what he or she was seeing and ordered that whoever was relaying the live images should be stopped. A handful of security officers then pounced on Ashriaf who was seated atop of Kyagulanyi’s car.  He put up some resistance until substances unknown to him were poured in his eyes and mouth.

//Cue in…tiya gaasi yabaluka ..'//  

 

Cue out… muddwaliro eritegeerekeka...//

  Asked whether as a journalist he had not crossed the line and joined the political activist strand, Ashiraf disagrees with the characterization. 

He says when he covered President Yoweri Museveni’s campaign rallies in 2016 while he worked for the government owned New Vision newspaper, he was never called a Museveni supporter; why then would that arise when he’s reporting about Kyagulanyi.

//Cue in…president Museveni akifudde..'//

Cue out… bubi eggwanga lyaffe...'//

In December last year, Ashiraf dragged the government of Uganda to court accusing it of torturing him. He wanted court to issue a permanent injunction against the police to stop all acts that take away his right against torture and inhumane and degrading treatment. 

He also wanted government to compensate him for the damages so far caused to him in Luuka. However, in March this year, Ashiraf allegedly made an application seeking to withdraw the case. 

His lawyer John Mpambale told presiding judge Esta Nambayo that the current state of health for his client didn’t allow him to continue with the case. 

But Ashiraf says the case will be back with new facts; including the torture he went through in Masaka that nearly cost his life.

//Cue in…saagujjayo naye naguyirmiriza...'//

Cue out era balooya bange baguliko...'//

Kasirye also believes that the mistreatment he went through was never unintentional and that’s why the government needs to pay for its actions.

//Cue in…ndowooza kyali..'//

Cue out…olinyiridde eddembe lyabwe..'//

A common saying goes that time heals, but Ashiraf doesn’t think he will never heal from the brutality that was meted out on him last year. He wonders how tormentors of people can actually go back home and have a good night's sleep. What do these people tell their children when they go back home after all the bad things they have done to other people’s children! Ashiraf wonders.

//Cue in…kyenjagala omusajja

Cue out…kyebaba bakukoze 

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