8-22-2011By Fighting Discrimination Program
This month, the HATE NO MORE Campaign was launched in the Ugandan capital Kampala, calling for an end to hate toward the gay community. The campaign is spearheaded by Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) and a coalition of some 30 other organizations. The four-month campaign will engage civil society, political leaders, religious leaders, and the general public in dialogue about hatred and its physical and psychological manifestations.
The campaign was launched despite a break-in at FARUG’s headquarters earlier that same week. Kampala police initially refused to go to the crime scene but the organization’s lawyers stood up to this injustice, getting the police to open an investigation and take fingerprints at the office.
After the burglary at FARUG’s office, Human Rights First issued a call to the Ugandan police chief, asking him to personally oversee the investigation:
Dear Major General Kayihura:
I write to express my deep concern about the recent news of a burglary at the office of Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG). According to news reports, the police were late in getting to the crime scene. However, an investigation was ultimately opened and the crime scene analyzed by forensics experts. FARUG staff estimate that the burglars stole 5 computers, 2 printers, a server, a microwave, and various documents, including the members’ electronic database which includes the names of the organization’s members.
I urge you to personally oversee the investigation into the burglary and ensure that all perpetrators are located and brought to justice. If the perpetrators purposely targeted FARUG because of its work to protect the rights of LGBTI individuals, their possession of the oranization’s electronic database put individual members at risk. I urge the police to give high priority to this investigation and to stay true to your motto of “protect and serve” by guaranteeing protection to the members of Freedom and Roam Uganda and other rights activists who may be threatened by further violence and attacks.
More than 4,100 individuals have signed our petition to the police chief, and we hope that these signatures will help ensure that the crime does not go unpunished. We still don’t know if the robbery and another attempted break-in were meant to silence the work of organizations fighting for the rights of LGBTI Ugandans. However, FARUG and its executive director Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera assure us that their struggle will continue.