Uganda News

“I was tortured, but my commitment to effect change remained unshaken,” recalls James Mubiru of the NUP.

The situation we discovered there was extremely horrible, with the sole benefit being that we could converse and see the sun, but everything else was misery.

Following his arrest in March 2021 for alleged possession of military material, Rubaga North Lord councillor James Mubiru believes his desire to effect political change has not changed.

Mubiru detailed his ordeal while in military detention and spoke about many other subjects in an interview with Bazzup as he continues to pursue his political career.

Welcome back from your incarceration. What method did you use to be captured, and where were you at the time?

Thank you very much, my brother. I was a member of the Kalangala crew and managed to flee, but I was apprehended later while we were in Namisindwa district. We were escorted to the Mbale police station and remanded to the Manafwa prison, which is a civilian prison.

The situation we discovered there was extremely horrible, with the sole benefit being that we could converse and see the sun, but everything else was misery.

Things were a little different when I was in the military prison since I was kept in a single room and given a little bed and some bed sheets, and the food was not horrible.

The one downside I encountered at the military prison was that you can’t communicate in that environment, so you don’t know what’s going on. A circumstance like this might traumatize your mind; there was a point when I couldn’t feel myself. Although I was not tortured in the military prison, the environment I was in was dreadful.

During your incarceration, you were declared dead multiple times. So, what exactly happened?

When I was caught in the first week of March, I was transported to the headquarters of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI), where I was viciously tortured, my eyes were closed, and I was confined to a single room. Those individuals [officers] arrived and began abusing and tormenting me. I couldn’t see who was abusing me because I couldn’t see them. Their voices were all I could hear. I could see the people through the small holes in the material they used to cover my face, but I couldn’t recognize their faces.

I was eventually taken somewhere else, I believe it was on the second floor, where I met a man who I believe was a captain.

He inquired about my arrest and then began accusing those who were abusing me. I believe he stated all of those things to get me to give him the knowledge I didn’t have. Who is financing us [National Unity Platform], I was asked.

They rushed me to the General Court Martial after I was declared dead. They filed the charges against me that I informed you about, and I was remanded in military jail. I was alone and unable to connect with anyone. My phone was taken away from me, and I was unable to communicate. I was unable to contact my family or lawyers.

Do you have any regrets about joining NUP after spending several months in a prison facility?

Not really, because we expected whatever we’re going through. If you come and tell it how it is, you will have to deal with the consequences. I don’t regret anything because I understood what I was getting myself into, and I knew that once you stand up for the truth, you’re in for a difficult ride. We are fighting for the people’s rights as well as for justice. This country’s rule of law is what I’m after. Every day, I’m getting stronger and stronger.

We know you as a human rights lawyer, and I believe you can provide excellent service to the public in that position. What prompted you to enter politics?

It is regrettable that we see professionals simply sitting and watching the chaos unfold in our country.

I wanted to be a voice for those who had no one else to speak for them.

It doesn’t work if we, the professionals, just sit back and watch as people are abused and their human rights are violated. The majority of people rely on specialists, but many of them are afraid to come forward and discuss these difficulties.

What do you think NUP will look like in the next five years? Do you believe the party can continue without Bobi Wine?

Because it has the backing of the people, I envision NUP being the next party to take control of the state. Bobi Wine has a staff that he works with, and I disagree with some who believe he overshadows the party. He is a good leader who has allowed others the chance to speak about important national issues. NUP is bigger than everyone, even if some people don’t see it.

You’ve mentioned ousting the dictatorship from power. Do you know how that will be accomplished?

In this struggle, people must be real, and we must be together. You are aware that, no matter how hard we have fought, some people have been duped, and that this has caused delays in our objective. We will not be diverted, no matter how much we have been penetrated by hypocritical people who claim to be fighting for justice while supporting injustice.
We will uphold our standards and continue to pursue our aim of deposing the dictator through nonviolent methods. The people we are leading are already united. The leaders are the ones that need to come together the most.

What are your plans now that you’ve been sworn in as Lord Councillor Rubaga North?

Several of our members are still incarcerated. One of the things I must do before I can consider anything else is to ensure that I continue to fight for our members who are still incarcerated. We still have a large number of people detained in various cells.

Do you think you’ll be looking for a new job in 2026?

My objective is to ensure that we are able to free this country from the grip of terrible leadership. That is the goal of my political career. My ideal leadership would be one that upholds the rule of law, respects human rights, and values people. My objective is to work in a small office. I came as a member of parliament at first, and that vision has not faded.

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