Lecturer arrested for ‘buttocks’ slur
Lawyers for a Ugandan academic, who was detained after she called President Yoweri Museveni “a pair of buttocks” on Facebook, said she feared authorities were trying to have her declared insane.
University lecturer Stella Nyanzi was arrested this week after repeatedly criticising Museveni and his wife, who serves as education minister, in “sexually explicit” terms.
Her case is seen as a key test of freedom of expression in the east African nation. The country is considered a reliable Western ally in a region often roiled by violence, but critics say hostility to dissent is growing in Uganda.
Activists such as Nyanzi, who was charged with cybercrimes on Monday, have criticised Museveni’s alleged corruption and nepotism, as well as rights violations by security agencies. The 72-year-old Museveni has been in power for more than three decades.
Nyanzi said that, instead of being offended by her language, Ugandans should be offended by the president’s failure to keep his promises, including a pledge to provide free sanitary pads for poor girls so they don’t have to skip school. Nyanzi’s lawyer, Nicholas Opiyo, said she told him that prison authorities tried to trick her into taking a psychiatric test shortly after she was arrested. He said that two men presenting themselves as ordinary doctors were from a government mental hospital. During her court hearing, prosecutors asked for an evaluation of her mental health, which she refused to take part in. Frank Baine, a spokesperson for Uganda’s prisons department, denied the men were mental health specialists. The medical exam was “a routine medical exam that every new inmate undergoes to avoid risks of spreading infection”, he said. International rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have called for Nyanzi’s release.