The Jobless Brotherhood formed recently to protest peacefully against youth unemployment and advocate for a free democratic society in Uganda.
Their first act was to stealthily release two yellow painted pigs into Parliament. Yellow is the color of the NRM ruling party. Pigs were the animal of choice due to their symbolizing the greed of MPs and other high-level politicians. Norman Tumuhimbise and Robert Mayanja were arrested briefly for carrying out this action.
Shortly thereafter, the group paraded through Kampala with a coffin, symbolizing the death of their dreams as university graduates. This won two weeks in prison not only for Norman and Robert, but for seven of their colleagues as well.
Following these events, Solidarity Uganda delivered training and consultation to the participants of the Jobless Brotherhood, a close affiliate group of the National Association of the Unemployed. It was clear during the training that despite experiences of torture cells, threatening phone calls, kidnappings, and other accounts of insecurity, the members of the Jobless Brotherhood were determined to carry on with their goals of advocating nonviolently for a transformed economy and political system.
This week, yellow pigs were again released in the streets of Kampala. The police declared a search for those who had released the pigs. Upon hearing of this search, Norman and Robert chained themselves together and presented themselves to Kampala police, demanding that they should be arrested if activism is a crime.
And indeed they were arrested. Solidarity Uganda has lost all contact with Norman as of October 1. An inside informant affiliated with the Jobless Brotherhood, who claims to have suffered infections from tear gas during recent demonstrations, tells us that Norman and Robert are being held at Central Police Station in Kampala. According to this informant, Norman and Robert are being deprived of food. Visitors have not been allowed to see them or deliver anything. They have been denied the right to a lawyer.
Solidarity Uganda is issuing the following emergency requests:
1) Civil society groups and the public at large should use creative nonviolent means to advocate for the immediate release of Norman and Robert, as well as fair reparations for their hardships.
2) Human rights groups specializing in law, counselling, and the monitoring of criminal justice systems should come to the aid of Norman, Robert, and the various members of the Jobless Brotherhood who have been psychologically, emotionally, and physically abused as a result of standing up for victims of poverty.
3) Health care providers should offer ongoing pro bono services to the members of the Jobless Brotherhood.
4) All sympathizers should participate in prayer and fasting in solidarity with those hungry and incarcerated.
5) Well-wishers can contribute to Solidarity Uganda, and we will use the monies to address various unmet needs of the Jobless Brotherhood. If enough money is raised, we will host a public celebration to declare their activist activities as a “win” – not a loss! (When contributing, email info[at]solidarityuganda[dot]com to indicate that your donation is specifically for the Jobless Brotherhood. Those without access to online giving can request alternative methods of donating at the same email. In-country bank account information cannot be shared publicly due to security concerns.)
Stand together with the youths of Uganda who are transforming the nation for a better future!