Uganda Activist Arrested Over Allegedly Insulting President Museveni on Facebook

Ugandan feminist activist, Dr. Stella Nyanzi, was arrested on November 2, 2018, over Facebook posts deemed to be offensive towards President Yoweri Museveni and his late mother Esteri Kokundeka. Nyanzi has been held at Luzira prison and is waiting for her trial. She is expected to take plea on charges of cyber harassment and offensive communication.

Nyanzi is a prominent activist promoting social and women’s rights. She announced that she’s unable to afford her legal fees and appealed to the public for financial assistance.

Nyanzi’s appeal was posted by her friend Marvin Saasi on his Facebook timeline:

“Dr. Stella Nyanzi needs your help to pay her legal fees. 0771-824-117 is her personal number. 0757-200-204 is her lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde’s number. Both numbers are registered on mobile money. If you can, send with the reason ‘Legal Fees’. Thank you”

Nyanzi was reported to post on Facebook statements calling President Museveni “a pair of buttocks”. She is an Embattled Makerere Institute for Social Research (MISR) research fellow. In March 2017, she was suspended from her academic research post over staging a nude presentation at the institution in protest of the First Lady Janet Museveni, who also serves as the Education and Sports Minister. Her suspension was later reinstated, but she hasn’t received any salary since.

On her Twitter account, Nyanzi describes herself as “A queer laughist, writer and critique from the non-core academia. Convener of @WomensProtestUg planning One Million #WomensMarchUg because #WomenLivesMatterUg”.

According to Freedom’s House recently published Freedom of the Net Report for the year 2018, Uganda is marked “Partly Free”. Social media apps and political content are reported to be blocked, while bloggers are being arrested for speaking out online. New licensing regulations introduced in March 2018, compromise the anonymity of content producers. Failure to comply would result in the blocking of the sites.

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