Ugandan author Kakwenza Rukirabashaija flees the country: Lawyer | News

Rukirabashaija was released from prison in late January after an arrest linked to tweets about President Yoweri Museveni.

A Ugandan author who spent nearly a month in jail after criticizing President Yoweri Museveni has fled the country, his lawyer has said.

Internationally acclaimed writer Kakwenza Rukirabashaija was released from prison in late January after being arrested in late December for communication offenses related to a series of tweets he posted about Museveni and his son, an army general.

Rukirabashaija fled Uganda across the land border with Rwanda and will at least temporarily settle in an unnamed European country, Eron Kiiza told the Associated Press news agency.

“The conditions had become impossible for him,” he said of Rukirabashaija. “They continued to monitor him. They took away his passport. He had no choice but to go save his life.

The US government recently cited ‘recurring credible accounts’ of enforced disappearances and torture by security forces that ‘paint badly’ President Museveni’s government [File: Mike Hutchings/Reuters]

Police spokesman Fred Enanga said he could not comment on Rukirabashaija’s case as it was in court.

The novelist, who won the PEN Pinter Prize for International Writers of Courage last year, is best known for ‘The Greedy Barbarian’, a novel about corruption in a fictional country widely interpreted as a satire on Museveni.

“Picked Flesh”

Rukirabashaija has alleged he was tortured by officials while in custody, and photographs of his mutilated back have shocked many in the East African country.

“They started using a pair of pliers and ripping flesh off my thighs and everywhere,” Rukirabashaija said in an account to the local Daily Monitor newspaper.

“That day, I thought I was dying and I thought about denouncing my Ugandan citizenship.”

Chief Magistrate Douglas Singiza had refused to ease Rukirabashaija’s bail conditions, which included the suspension of his passport and an order not to speak to journalists.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Rukirabashaija addressed Singiza as a “stubborn bespectacled magistrate,” writing, “You are a disgrace! Now put my passport in the dock and try it. I won’t face you again.”

Rukirabashaija was held incommunicado for most of the time he was held in a detention center, Kiiza said previously, and only appeared in court after much domestic and international pressure, including from of the United States and the European Union.

The European Union Delegation to Uganda issued a statement on Monday expressing concern at “a situation which for more than a year has seen a significant increase in cases of torture, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, harassment” and other attacks.

Last week, the United States cited “recurring credible accounts” of enforced disappearances and torture by security forces that “cast a bad image” on the government of President Yoweri Museveni, in power since 1986.

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