Ugandan police detain dissident pop star turned MP Bobi Wine

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Police officers arrest a supporter of Ugandan musician turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi, commonly known as Bobi Wine, before his arrest on his way to a press conference held to announce the cancelation of his show at Busabala, Uganda, on April 22, 2019. (AFP)
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Ugandan musician turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi, commonly known as Bobi Wine, is arrested by police on his way to a press conference held to announce the cancelation of his show at Busabala, Uganda, on April 22, 2019. (AFP)
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Supporters of Ugandan musician turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi, commonly known as Bobi Wine, speak to police officers before the arrest of Bobi Wine on his way to a press conference held to announce the cancelation of his show at Busabala, Uganda, on April 22, 2019. (AFP)
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Supporters of Ugandan musician turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi, commonly known as Bobi Wine, speak to police officers before the arrest of Bobi Wine on his way to a press conference held to announce the cancelation of his show at Busabala, Uganda, on April 22, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 23 April 2019
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Ugandan police detain dissident pop star turned MP Bobi Wine

  • The 36-year-old popular singer, who entered parliament in 2017 and has emerged as a leading critic of President Museveni, has struck a chord with young Ugandans with his songs about social justice

KAMPALA: Ugandan police on Monday detained Bobi Wine, a pop star turned MP who became a high-profile government critic, after shutting down one of his concerts and firing tear gas at his fans.
The local music sensation, a potential challenger to veteran President Yoweri Museveni, was pulled out of his car by baton-wielding police as he tried to make his way to the concert venue in southern Kampala. He was later released, with police dropping him at his home.
“I was arrested like a terrorist. They broke my hand and pushed me in a vehicle,” Wine, wearing his trademark red beret, told a crowd of cheering supporters, according to local television footage.
“Stand firm, we are winning this war. Each day that passes helps our resolve to end dictatorship,” he exhorted.
A police spokesman for Kampala, Patrick Onyango, told AFP that Wine was apprehended then driven home “to enable us to talk to him... so that he and his team learn to respect the law.”
Wine’s much-anticipated show at his private club on the shores of Lake Victoria was canceled Sunday by police, who cited safety concerns and sealed off roads to the venue.
Wine tried to reach the location Monday but clashes broke out as his supporters threw stones and police responded with tear gas and water cannon.
Concert promoter and Wine supporter Moses Mugwanya told AFP that the singer had been taken away with other political opposition figures.
“Police have broken into the car he was in and forcefully removed him, and put him in a police van and have driven him away,” he said, adding that “suffocating” tear gas was used around the vehicle.
Wine’s wife Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi said Wine was arrested in Busabala, a Kampala suburb, where he was to address the media on the cancelation of his concert by the police.

The 36-year-old popular singer, who entered parliament in 2017 and has emerged as a leading critic of President Museveni, has struck a chord with young Ugandans with his songs about social justice.
Authorities have repeatedly blocked him from performing publicly.
One of Wine’s songs contains the lyric “freedom fighters become dictators,” while others hint that Museveni has stayed in power too long.
The 74-year-old leader has ruled Uganda since seizing power at the head of a rebel army in 1986. He intends to stand for re-election to a sixth term in office.
The country’s Supreme Court last week upheld a decision to remove an age cap of 75 for presidential contenders, paving the way for Museveni to run again in 2021.
Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, spearheaded protests against the removal of presidential age caps and has signalled he is seriously considering running against Museveni.
He was charged with treason in August last year along with more than 30 opposition politicians over the alleged stoning of Museveni’s convoy after a campaign rally in the north-western town of Arua.
Wine accused the security forces of torturing and beating him while in custody and later received medical treatment in the United States for the injuries he said he received.
The authorities have denied the allegations.


Thousands rally in support of Hong Kong police

Updated 20 July 2019
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Thousands rally in support of Hong Kong police

  • Hong Kong has been rocked by more than a month of huge and largely peaceful protests
  • Demonstrators and rights groups have accused riot police of using excessive force, including tear gas and rubber bullets, and public anger against the force is boiling over

HONG KONG: Tens of thousands of people rallied in support of Hong Kong’s police and pro-Beijing leadership on Saturday, a vivid illustration of the polarization coursing through the city after weeks of anti-government demonstrations.
Hong Kong has been rocked by more than a month of huge and largely peaceful protests — as well as a series of separate violent confrontations with police — sparked by a proposed law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China and other countries.
The bill has since been suspended, but that has done little to quell public anger which has evolved into a wider movement calling for democratic reforms, universal suffrage and a halt to sliding freedoms in the semi-autonomous financial hub.
Saturday’s rally was a moment for the establishment to muster their own supporters.
A predominantly older crowd was joined by families and younger residents, waving Chinese flags and holding banners supporting the police.
“Friends who used violence say they love Hong Kong too, but we absolutely cannot approve of their way of expressing themselves,” said Sunny Wong, 42, who works in insurance.
A 60-year-old woman surnamed Leung said protesters who stormed and vandalized the legislature earlier this month must be held responsible for their acts.
“I really dislike people using violence on others... it was so extreme,” Leung said.
Police estimated a turnout of 103,000 people at the peak of the rally, while local media cited organizers as saying 316,000 attended.
Hong Kong’s police are in the midst of a major reputational crisis.
With no political solution on the table from the city’s pro-Beijing leaders, the police have become enmeshed in a seemingly intractable cycle of clashes with protesters who have continued to hit the streets in huge numbers for six weeks.
Demonstrators and rights groups have accused riot police of using excessive force, including tear gas and rubber bullets, and public anger against the force is boiling over.
Police insist their crowd control responses have been proportionate and point to injured officers as proof that a hardcore minority of protesters mean them harm.
Some of the most violent clashes occurred last Sunday when riot police battled protesters hurling projectiles inside a luxury mall. Some 28 people were injured, including 10 officers.
There is growing frustration among the police force’s exhausted rank and file that neither the city’s leaders, nor Beijing, seem to have any idea how to end the crisis.
Chinese state media and powerful pro-Beijing groups threw their weight behind the pro-police rally.
Saturday’s edition of Hong Kong’s staunchly pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao ran a front page encouraging readers to join with the headline: “Kick away the violence.”
It featured a drawing of a large foot kicking over a pro-democracy demonstrator.
Many of those at the rally held aloft large slogans printed on the spread of Wen Wei Po, another stridently pro-Beijing newspaper in the city.
A rally last month by police supporters saw ugly scenes, with many participants hurling insults and scuffling with younger democracy protesters as well as media covering the gathering.
While the pro-government protests have mustered decent crowds, they have paled in comparison with the huge pro-democracy marches that have regularly drawn hundreds of thousands of people.
Anti-government protesters are planning another large march Sunday afternoon and say they have no plan to back down until key demands are met.
Tensions were also raised after police on Saturday said they had discovered a homemade laboratory making high-powered explosives. A 27-year-old man was arrested and pro-independence materials were also discovered.
Under the 1997 handover deal with Britain, China promised to allow Hong Kong to keep key liberties such as its independent judiciary and freedom of speech.
But many say that 50-year deal is already being curtailed, citing the disappearance into mainland custody of dissident booksellers, the disqualification of prominent politicians and the jailing of pro-democracy protest leaders.
Authorities have also resisted calls for the city’s leader to be directly elected by the people.