Opposition Forum for Democratic Change has filed an online petition calling upon Ugandan media houses to join their struggle against ‘bad governance’.
The petition filed on AVAAZ.ORG, a community petitions platform, already has 17 signatures of the 100 signatures needed.
“Join us to call on Ugandan media to state where they stand. Please sign this petition to show your support to the struggle for freedom of expression and right to information of all Ugandans,” FDC wrote in an introduction to the petition.
Here is the petition:
On 5 May 2016, Uganda’s information minister, Jim Muhwezi announced a government imposed ban on media forbidding them from reporting on the ‘Defiance Campaign’ by Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) led by Dr.Kizza Besigye.
Minister Muhwezi told the country that “any media house that continues offering live coverage of the so-called defiance campaign risk having its broadcasting licence revoked”.
Besigye was announced second in February 18 sham election organised by President Yoweri Museveni’s government.
President Museveni has been in power for 30 years and shows no signs of relinquishing it and staging fraudulent elections is one of the ways he legitimises his course on a possible life presidency.
‘Defiance’ was Dr Kizza Besigye’s campaign platform. At the declaration of Yoweri Museveni as winner of the February elections, Dr Besigye and his FDC announced they would continue with the ‘Defiance campaign’, claiming that it was not the true reflection of the people’s will.
Museveni’s regime has deployed the military and police in large numbers in many parts of the country and many opposition supporters are arrested and harassed on a daily basis in an effort to quell any possible revolt against the regime.
This media gag is in line with the slow but continued erosion of rule of law and denial of basic rights to the people of Uganda by the Museveni’s government. Ugandans are unable to freely assemble peacefully and their civic and political rights are very limited.
Ugandan media have been very silent on the media gag and we have seen no real efforts to ensure that they do not cooperate with this blatant violation of people’s right to information.
Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights recognizes that access to information is a fundamental right.
“Every individual shall have the right to receive information. Every individual shall have the right to express and disseminate his opinions within the law.”
We are calling on Ugandan media to respect the right to information. By being silent they are unclear whether they are fully cooperating in the violations of rights of Ugandans.
It is important that heads of media houses in Uganda take a public stand on the issue and reaffirm their commitment to their role media as a fourth estate, working independently from the whims of the regime.
Like veteran journalist and Executive Director of African Centre for Media Excellence, Dr. Peter G. Mwesige says “the ban on live media coverage of Besigye’s defiance campaign is illegal, unnecessary, disproportional, unacceptable and unjustifiable even in a society like ours that is neither entirely free nor fully democratic.”
The petition running under the hashtag #StateWhereYouStand, targets media houses like; New Vision, Daily Monitor, The Observer, Red Pepper, NTV Uganda, NBS TV, Urban TV, BBS TV, KFM, Radio Simba FM and Sanyu FM, among others.