Rev Can Diana Mirembe Nkesiga, the former Vicar for All Saints Church Kampala has expressed dissatisfaction with the brutality used by security forces in quelling protests that erupted in Kampala last week.
She also condemned the acts of torture and arbitrary arrests which she says take away human dignity.
Rev Nkesiga, one of the most accomplished and respected female clerics in Uganda made the comments on Tuesday in an interview with SoftPower News on the state of human rights in the country and how the church views it.
Asked about the manner in which the military arrested people alleged to have participated in riots in Kampala, by beating them with canes, Rev Diana Nkesiga said it was disappointing.
On Monday of last week, rioters in downtown Kampala protesting the continued detention of popular singer and Kyadondo East MP, Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine) prompted the military alongside Police officers to deploy in a bid to restore calm. Video footage by media outlets showed soldiers severely beating civilians including journalists before arresting them.
This has since triggered an uproar in sections of the public and international observers, condemning the violation of human rights by government.
“Like many citizens, it didn’t sit down well with me. For me as a priest, those (victims of brutality) are my brothers, those are my sisters. When there is a provocation, I believe that our armed forces are trained on how to deal with the situation,” Rev Diana Nkesiga who is currently a priest at St Francis Chapel, Makerere University told this website.
“I was very disappointed with how they treated the media, and I was saddened by how they dealt with those who were injured,” she added.
Making reference to a previous case in which Police officers pinched breasts of FDC mobilizer, Ingrid Turinawe while arresting her, the cleric advocated for ways of arresting suspects that do not erode their dignity.
“How someone is arrested, how someone is carried away is very important. If I have committed a crime, and I have not harmed you, there has to be a way of arresting me. You mustn’t take away my dignity”.
She added; “I don’t think anybody should be tortured”.
She however advised the populace to ensure that they use peaceful ways while expressing their concerns to the authorities without causing a situation where wrong elements provoke the security agencies.
“If you cause a racas and you don’t have a way of engaging and bringing forward the issues, you might get infiltrated by someone who has a different agenda”.
“We should think of ways of not getting infiltrated, because the police are humans – if they feel their life is in danger, they will over react. They have to exercise a patience that’s extraordinary,” she said.
She condemned politicians who abuse the youth and make them come onto the streets for their own political gains.
Whereas the church has often come under criticism for taking on a spectator’s role when it comes to political issues, Rev Diana says the idea that religious leaders refrain from political issues is misguided.
“I think the country has misunderstood the role of the church, that where there is a politician, we can’t speak,” she said.
“We as a church refrain from jumping on the bandwagon of party politics, following A or B or C. We are called to be prophetic. As a pastor, my work is to reconcile and to make sure that things are resolved peacefully”.
If i jump behind a personality, I’m going to find myself unable to speak prophetically into a situation, she said.
She said that apart from attending church, she can not offer a politician a platform to speak in church.
“I have an obligation to the rest of the congregation that may not be part of your party”.
The Reverend added that that the church has an obligation to foster peaceful coexistence and agitate for a peaceful electoral process before during and after.