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New murder, same old vow to crush pigs

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The June 1 fatal shooting of General Edward Katumba Wamala’s daughter Brenda Nantongo and his official driver Haruna Kayondo was a new grim broad daylight execution, which has drawn the same old script of vows over the years; vows to crush and defeat “these pigs, the shallow thugs, criminals and killers,” from President Museveni and his legion of government officials.

The vow to crush the pigs is a permanent fixture in six of Museveni’s angry speeches made in the immediate aftermath of the high profile murders but remains hollow in effect todate. This latest killing comes three years after the last public execution of Muhammad Kirumira in September 2018.

In the immediate aftermath of the killing of Brenda Nantongo and Haruna Kayondo, President Museveni said on his Twitter account that pigs who do not value life shot at General Katumba, killed his daughter and driver and injured him (Katumba). He vowed to defeat the criminals.

“We shall defeat the criminals as we did in the past. We already have clues to those killers. Besides, the new system of digital beacons on all vehicles and boda bodas will eliminate the misuse of vehicles and boda bodas to commit crimes,” Museveni said in his tweet.

The steady stream of threats continued during the president’s State Of The Nation Address at Kololo on Friday, June 4. In his speech the president took a swipe at police.

“The recent shooting of Gen Katumba by the usual shallow actors who I called pigs the other day showed the poor organization of the police. The cameras I put in place did their work. Why didn’t the camera centre (at Nateete) alert all the patrol cars to chase and block these killers? These wonderful camera managers think that their gadgets are only for storing videos for forensic analysis as part of the post-mortem of the operation. Yes, the cameras are for forensic but also for alarms while the crime is going on,” he said.

Gen Katumba’s vehicle was sprayed with bullets just like Kaweesi’s

Museveni said if the alerts were sent out in time, the criminals would easily be followed from all the camera centres if police officers heeded his directives. He said cameras are not being fully utilised. He further noted that he introduced cameras because of the killings of assistant Director of Public Prosecution Joan Kagezi, Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Felix Kaweesi, Muhammad Kirumira, Major Muhammad Kiggundu and the Muslim Sheiks.

“When the other killings of Kagezi, Kaweesi, Kirumira and the Muslim sheikhs even Kiggundu happened, by that time we didn’t have cameras. I actually introduced cameras because of those killings, which were going on. You remember when I addressed parliament and I outlined 12 steps, the cameras are just one of them. For instance the gun, which was used in the Katumba attack, is the same one which was used in the Major Kiggundu case and a number of those involved were arrested but they were released by court on bail. Why would somebody who has killed people be released on bail, I cannot understand. Bail for what?” he said.

He directed police to stop using mobile phones and switch to using radio calls that are open to all stations so that they can respond promptly to all emergencies like the attack on General Katumba. In addition to cameras, he said security officials are working to install digital monitors on every vehicle, motorcycle and even boats so that wherever someone is, the command centre can know.

“The people involved in the Katumba incidence I am sure we shall get them because we already have good leads and I am following very closely. But this is different from Kagezi’s, Kaweesi’s murder because at that time there were so many things, which were not in place. Now we have some of those things in place and it will be much easier this time. The country is secure, progressing and corruption and disorientation will be defeated,” Museveni concluded.

JOAN KAGEZI

Joan Kagezi, a former senior principal state attorney, was shot dead on March 30th 2015 by assailants who trailed her on a boda boda and pinned her down in Kiwatule, a Kampala suburb, as she drove back home.

During the requiem service for Joan Kagezi at St Luke’s Church, Ntinda, then minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Kahinda Otafiire said the justice, law and order sector upholds the values of the rule of law with justice for all as a cornerstone and therefore vowed to bring to justice Kagezi’s killers.

“I would therefore like to assure Ugandans and the family of the deceased that the sector through the police, the judiciary and other state institutions and structures that we shall bring to justice the perpetrators of this criminal act no matter where they are or how long it takes,” Otafiire said.

At the same service, the then Director of Public Prosecution Mike Chibita warned that his sector had waged a huge battle against extremists suspected of being part of the gang, which killed Kagezi.

“The battle has been brought to our doorstep and we shall fight back. Where they use guns, we shall use law books, where they shoot us in highways, we shall battle them in courtrooms because the pen is mightier than the sword,” Chibita said.

Shortly after her murder, the then Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura said, “The murder of Joan Kagezi should only serve to increase our resolve to hunt down and bring to justice all those elements bent on disturbing the security and development of our country.”

Joan Kagezi was the assistant director of Public Prosecution and the head of the International Criminal Division in the ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs. In April 2017, Chibita told MPs on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee that no progress had been made in the prosecution of suspects.

Much as there were leads, he said, they were not credible enough. In September 2018 during his address to the nation, Museveni said he knew the suspect in the Kagezi murder though no one had been arrested.

“It is true Uganda Police has been slow on some issues like Joan Kagezi. I have been briefed by my intelligence and I know the suspect whom we shall soon arrest. It is clear that intelligence has been weak in cases where murders have been committed like in the case of Kagezi and others but this weak area is being strengthened,” Museveni said.

While presiding at the pass out Local Defence Unit trainees in Kaweweta Training School in March 2019, President Museveni revealed that Kagezi was killed by rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) because she refused to be bribed in the trial of suspects in the July 2010 Kampala bombings.

“Joan Kagezi was killed because she refused to be bribed by ADF in matters of prosecution. (Former MP Ibrahim) Abiriga and Kaweesi were also killed and then some people started making noise on social media that Uganda was insecure. I have decided to mobilise the youth to come and defend their country,” Museveni said.

Kagezi was the state prosecutor in the trial of 13 individuals suspected of taking part in the July 2010 bombings in Kampala. After her murder, over 50 people were arrested but all these were later released after the directorate of public prosecutions advised that there was no evidence linking them to the murder and up to today, no suspect has ever been arrested and charged for her murder.

MAJOR MOHAMMED KIGGUNDU

Major Mohammed Kiggundu was shot and killed by gunmen moving on a motorcycle on November 26 2016 at Masanafu, a Kampala suburb. Kiggundu who was driving to the city in a UPDF pick-up truck was killed together with his bodyguard Sergeant Steven Mukasa.

The late Andrew Kaweesi who was police spokesperson then said there was no doubt that the rebel ADF were behind Kiggundu’s murder because of the identical assassination methods. “This is the same method that was used in the past killings of Muslim leaders.

We thought we had neutralised ADF elements but it seems we still need to do a lot of work.”

Kiggundu was one of the former commanders of ADF who denounced the armed rebels with a group of other fighters and integrated into UPDF where he was promoted to the rank of Major in December 2007. He was a preacher of Islam on one of the radio stations and it is believed that he was one of the clerics on the list of Muslim leaders who were targeted by hitmen.

In February this year, the DPP Justice Jane Frances Abodo informed the international crimes division of the High Court that she had withdrawn terrorism charges against the 11 suspects who had been arrested in connection with Kiggundu’s murder. The judge then ordered for the immediate release of the accused persons from Luzira prison where they had remanded since 2017.

ANDREW FELIX KAWEESI

On the morning of March 17, 2017, Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Felix Kaweesi was gunned down by men riding on motorcycles alongside his driver Godfrey Wanbeyo and bodyguard Kenneth Erau a few metres from his home in Kulambiro, a Kampala surburb.

In a statement released that very day (March 17) about the murder, President Museveni said that as a consequence of the repeated murders in the city and other towns, he had directed the immediate installation of cameras in all major towns of Uganda and along highways.

“These thugs think they can use this remaining gap in our otherwise robust security framework. I have directed the Minister of Finance to work with police to immediately close this gap. Security personnel and all citizens should be vigilant and on the lookout for these thugs who have made it a habit to use motorcycles to kill people,” the statement read.

While eulogizing Kaweesi at his home in Kulambiro a few days later, Museveni said that police had been infiltrated by criminals and ordered the then IGP Kale Kayihura to clean up the police force because it was also contributing to the death of the people.

Museveni further assured Kaweesi mourners that he was going to either arrest his killers or kill them and if they didn’t want to die, they should surrender rather than trying to hide.

“These pigs do not see the value of people like Kaweesi. If the criminals do not want to die, they should surrender. We shall defeat the boda boda method of killing people. Criminals are now using boda bodas because they are many and Kampala population has increased. They think they can use this method after killing 10 people,” Museveni said.

IBRAHIM ABIRIGA

Former Arua Municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga was also killed by unknown men riding on a motor bike on June 8 2018 near his home in Kawanda, Wakiso district alongside his driver Saidi Kongo in his signature yellow beetle car.

When President Museveni visited the crime scene in Kawanda the next day, he said that Abiriga had died because of some issues relating to him as a person but it was possible that he was killed over NRM issues because he was a strong NRM supporter.

“It is possible they thought by killing him they would hurt NRM. This shows the foolishness of these people who are fighting NRM. NRM has the ability to kill but we have never killed a single opponent. We fight with ideas, if your ideas are good, the people will adopt them. These murderers want to see how they can destroy our country but we shall defeat them because these killings are not new,” he said.

During his burial in Arua which Museveni personally attended, he stressed the fact that Abiriga’s murder was politically motivated and warned anyone who was planning a war against NRM supporters that they shall soon be defeated.

“These people who kill people because of politics are pigs who cannot value life. I am sad, angry but I am confident that
we are going to defeat these people. They have opened a war by killing our people. They are going to see what NRM means in war. They killed some sheikhs, Joan Kagezi , Kaweesi and now they have killed Abiriga here, it is time really for all us to wake up and say stop this and we have the capacity,” Museveni said.

Museveni also ordered a ban on covering of heads or wearing hoods by motorcyclists while riding their bikes and also instructed all of them to get new helmets with identification numbers on the back.

MUHAMMAD KIRUMIRA

Former Buyende district police commander Assistant Superintendent of Police Muhammed Kirumira and his female friend Resty Nalinya Mbabazi, a mobile money agent, were gunned by armed men riding on a motorcycle at Bulenga trading centre on September 8th 2018.

Kirumira and Nalinya who were travelling together in a car were pronounced dead on arrival at Rubaga and Mulago hospitals respectively where they had been rushed.

Through his social media pages, Kirumira had accused senior officers of corruption, working with criminal gangs and hiring out guns to wrong elements and said he was a target of an assassination plot. Following Kirumira’s murder, President Museveni in a statement said that pending the installation of cameras everywhere, they were going to re-activate the Luweero methods to deal with these cowardly pigs.

“Condolences on the brutal killing of police officer Muhammad Kirumira at Bulenga. I visited the scene of crime at 23:00hrs. The criminals are still using the gaps I identified in my speech to Parliament on 20th June 2018. The police are working hard to fill the gaps. We are to stop these pigs by not just relying on the old police methods. They have started installing cameras and other measures are being put in place. Pending the installation of cameras everywhere, we are going to re activate the Luweero methods to deal with these cowardly pigs,” Museveni said.

MUSEVENI ON SECURITY

While addressing the country on Sunday, June 6 June, Museveni denied media reports that investigations into all these killings have never been completed.

“I have got a report here by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). It has got all these cases and what has happened. A total of 68 cases have been identified including these murders and many of the people have either been killed or arrested. I will tell Grace Akullo (director CID) to publish and give the country a brief about these murders. Even the killing of Joan Kagezi, the killers were identified but some were abroad and we were supposed to use Interpol to look for them. So that line that all these cases are never concluded is not wholly correct,” Museveni said.

He also added that a high ranking General if he is not alert and the population is also not alert can be attacked because generals also have blood.

“In the case of Gen Katumba Wamala, he had also made mistakes because apparently, he was moving without a follow car. He used to move with a follow car when he was CDF but when he became minister, he was moving with one escort and a driver. I did not know that because a 4 star general given that we still have some of these isolated incidences should be having a follow car. If he had a follow car, it would not have been easy to attack him.”

jjingoernest1@gmail.com



Source – observer.ug

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‘Suddenly, she’s gone’: Mud and death in COVID-hit Indonesia | Coronavirus pandemic News

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Jakarta/Kudus, Indonesia – It should have been a time of celebration for Puji Apriani’s family – she was pregnant with her second child, and just weeks away from giving birth.

But instead of welcoming a new life, her family is now in mourning.

“I miss her. She was healthy, her pregnancy was normal. And suddenly, she’s gone,” her younger sister Ery Jurniastuti said.

The family lives in Kudus, Central Java – one of the worst affected areas by Indonesia’s recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

“She felt out of breath, and she was coughing. She felt contractions in her stomach, too,” Ery said.

Home to almost 900,000 people, Kudus has recorded a 7,594 percent increase in cases since the beginning of this year.

Following a steep rise in cases this month, overwhelmed hospitals have been forced to turn patients away.

After being rejected by two hospitals, Puji was finally admitted, and her oxygen levels increased slightly.

But it was too late. Her condition deteriorated and she died in hospital.

“She died first, then they checked the heart of the baby. The baby is still inside, they didn’t take it out. It died there.”

 

Puji Apriani was pregnant and only a few weeks away from giving birth when she caught COVID-19. Now, instead of celebrating a new arrival, her family are morning the death of both Puji and her baby [Jamaah/Al Jazeera]

Doctors vs Delta

At the Loekmono Hadi General Hospital in Kudus, Dr Abdul Aziz Achyar said he was “surprised” by the ferocity of the surge, which has pushed bed occupancy rates in hospitals to more than 90 percent.

“During Ramadan, it was so quiet. We only had 18 patients. But then, when it started … I myself was also hospitalised,” he told Al Jazeera.

One hundred fifty-three of his colleagues also contracted the virus, and two of them died.

Indonesia’s capacity to track variants is limited, but doctors believe the current outbreak in Kudus is driven in part by the spread of the Delta variant, which was first detected in India.

“We sent cases from health centre [for genome sequencing]… from 72 samples, 62 were the new variant,” Dr Abdul said.

At Aisyiyah Kudus Hospital, Dr Najib Budhiwardoyo said his hospital is completely at capacity.

“We are full of COVID patients. This second wave started after Eid,” he said.

“All hospitals in Kudus are experiencing this problem … oxygen scarcity. We have to be selective; we can only use oxygen for patients with very low saturation.”

Swamp turned cemetery

It is not just the hospitals in Java that are close to capacity, but cemeteries too.

In the Indonesian capital, the designated COVID-19 burial sites, such as Pondok Rangon Cemetery, that were opened in the early months of the pandemic are already full.

Cemetery workers told Al Jazeera they are struggling to keep up with their workload.

“Before COVID, I used to dig 10 graves each day. But yesterday, we dug 46 graves. The day before, it was 51,” Darsiman, a gravedigger of 20 years, said.

“We are very tired. We work from morning until night.”

Darsiman, a gravedigger of 20 years, waits for Wahyudin to finish writing on a wooden headstone [Jessica Washington/Al Jazeera]

In Rorotan, North Jakarta, a new burial site for those who have died from COVID-19 opened just weeks ago – and already, more than 800 people have been buried there.

As the death toll continues to rise, finding room for the dead in this densely packed city is becoming a challenge.

The land at Rorotan used to be an empty swamp – the families of the deceased have to trek through the mud, to pay respects to their loved ones.

“This is a new cemetery … the other locations are full. There are just so many COVID cases, so they have to bring them here,” Darsiman said.

“It’s been raining so it’s muddy. It’s very sad to see funerals here, even the ambulances get stuck trying to come in.”

Headstone writer Wahyudin said his workload has increased because of the pandemic – and working at the cemetery takes an emotional toll.

“I feel so sad seeing this many burials. Seeing those families cry, I think about my own family,” he said.

“Before COVID, I also made headstones but it’s busier now. So many people have died.”

Moments to rest are scarce – just as workers lower a plastic-wrapped coffin into the ground, more ambulances arrive, with more dead to bury.

 

‘India should be our lesson’

This week, Indonesia surpassed two million confirmed cases of coronavirus – and more than 55,000 confirmed deaths.

Dr Nadia Siti, the head of Infectious Diseases at the Ministry of Health, said the rise in cases is not surprising.

“We know that if there is a holiday or event, there is an increasing number of people moving and travelling from other cities,” she said.

The cemetery at Rorotan has been built on what was once a swamp in northern Jakarta [Fakhrur Roz/Al Jazeera]
The cemetery at Rorotan has only been open for a few weeks and more than 800 people have already been buried there [Jessica Washington/Al Jazeera]

“The government had restrictions on mudik, which is the tradition of Muslims to visit their hometown [during Eid Al Fitr]. Still, there are four to six million people who travelled.”

The situation in Kudus and capital are of particular concern to the Ministry of Health, where bed occupation rates are high and hospital workers are already overwhelmed by the crisis.

“In Jakarta, the bed occupation rate is almost 80 to 90 percent. We instruct hospitals to convert their beds into COVID-19 services, so they can be available for patients,” she said.

“The last strategy is to establish field hospitals with the coordination of the army or police.”

Long before the pandemic, Indonesia had a shortage of medical professionals – and there are concerns about how its stretched healthcare system will cope when infections are expected to peak in July.

“With the existing doctors, paramedics and nurses, it might not be enough. We might need an experienced doctor to supervise five or 10 new ones, who don’t have experience in taking care of patients,” Dr Nadia said.

“We do hope we won’t face the same situation like India. What happened in India should be our lesson.”



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Former Philippine president Benigno Aquino dies at age of 61 | Obituaries News

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Aquino was the country’s 15th president from 2010 to 2016, and was succeeded by current president , Rodrigo Duterte.

Former Philippine President Benigno Aquino III died early on Thursday, after a prolonged illness, according to several news reports.

Aquino, 61, served as the country’s 15th president from 2010 to 2016, and was succeeded in office by the incumbent, Rodrigo Duterte.

According to ABS-CBN News, he was hospitalised last Thursday.

But he has been undergoing dialysis for at least five months and had recently undergone a heart operation.

It was during Aquino’s administration that Manila took on China and filed a case before the Court of Arbitration at The Hague over the South China Sea dispute.

The Philippines later won that landmark case a month after Aquino left office in 2016.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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The scrappy Hong Kong tabloid that refused to bow to Beijing | Freedom of the Press News

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Hong Kong, China – The last edition of the Apple Daily, the small scrappy Hong Kong tabloid that emerged as a champion of democracy and outspoken critic of China, has rolled off the presses, four days after the newspaper celebrated its 26th anniversary.

The paper had been raided by police twice during the past 10 months on suspicion of violating the National Security Law that was imposed by Beijing almost a year ago. Since the first raid last August, founder Jimmy Lai, 73, has been in jail awaiting trial under the law.

Last week’s raid saw five top executives, including its chief editor, arrested for alleged security offences as 500 police officers swooped in on Apple’s headquarters, with another staffer – the head editorial writer – apprehended on Wednesday morning.

The final nail in the coffin, however, was Hong Kong authorities’ freeze on the bank accounts of the media group that owns the paper. The move made it impossible for the paper to pay its staff and vendors, even as readers snapped up copies to show their support.

The decision was based on “employee safety and manpower considerations”, Apple Daily said as it announced its closure on Wednesday.
“Here we say goodbye. Take care of yourselves.”

Staff members of Apple Daily and its publisher Next Digital clap out the final edition of a paper that began publishing in 1995 and became a thorn in Beijing’s side [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under the “one country, two systems” framework meant to guarantee rights and liberties absent in the mainland. For most of the past 20 years, the territory has remained a bastion of press freedom in a country where media is muzzled.

“The demise of Apple Daily negates ‘one country, two systems’ and sets the stage for ‘one country, one system,’” said Willy Lam, a longtime commentator on Chinese politics and a veteran newspaper editor.

Bold, brash

Founded just two years before the handover, Apple Daily was at once a gamble and a leap of faith.

“The paper wanted to have some impact not just on Hong Kong but also to support the liberalisation of China,” Lam told Al Jazeera. “But as China has become less open to Western values, the paper has focused on defending Hong Kong values and holding Beijing to account.”

In its inaugural editorial, Apple Daily said it aimed to be a paper for the Hong Kong people.

Lai, its founder and funder, a devout Catholic who had made a fortune in the fashion business, named the paper after the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden in the Old Testament. Its rhyming couplet jingle – “An Apple a day, no liars can hold sway” – caught the attention of Hong Kong readers used to more staid offerings.

It was loud. It was bold, It was flashy.

The paper grabbed attention when it splashed a surreptitiously shot photo of Deng Xiaoping – China’s then-paramount leader died in February at the age of 92 – on his deathbed on the front page.

Brashness was its selling point.

Its reporters frequently skewered public officials and needled the comfortable.

“It speaks truth to power and finds a way to do profitably,” said Lokman Tsui, assistant professor of journalism at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Jimmy Lai, standing by one of the printing presses in 2009, created a hugely popular paper that supported democracy, was unafraid to speak truth to power and critical of the Communist Party in Beijing [File: Alex Hofford/EPA]
Apple Daily’s founder and funder, Jimmy Lai, was arrested in August under the national security law and the paper’s headquarters raided. He has now been jailed [File: Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

The paper catered to high brow and low. Colourful spreads of scantily-clad female models appeared in the same section of the paper as erudite columns featuring quotes in Latin and Classical Chinese. With a couple of exceptions, its ranks of columnists were the who’s who of the territory’s pro-democracy circle.

Giving people what they want

Launched at the dawn of the internet age, the daily was quick to adapt to the digital world. Its website pioneered animated news – a mix of stills, short clips and clever graphics with narration dripping with sour sarcasm. Its lifestyle channel on YouTube built a fervent following.

A decade in, the paper’s circulation peaked at 500,000 in a city of approximately six million people with a dozen dailies.

Apple Daily’s brand of advocacy journalism would soon make the paper a thorn in the side of the Chinese Communist Party. But to Lai, a rags-to-riches maverick millionaire now named Public Enemy No. 1 by Beijing, it was all about giving his customers what they would buy, even down to protest poster inserts.

In the summer of 2019, amid popular opposition to legislation that would send Hong Kong residents for trial in mainland China, the paper shorthanded “extradition to China” into the homophonic colloquial Cantonese expression of seeing someone to the grave. The expression immediately caught on and became a rallying cry in the protest movement.

“At times, we might have gone overboard but everything we did fell within the bounds of the law,” said Robert Chan, 45, who has covered mainland China for the paper for the past three years.

That is until the passage of the security law, which punishes what the authorities deem subversion, sedition, collusion with foreign forces and secession with possible life sentences.

Prosecutors have used Lai’s frequent meetings with US officials in recent years, from the then-vice president on down, as “evidence” of his alleged “collusion with foreign powers”.

Staff from Apple Daily and its publisher Next Digital work on the final edition of their newspaper on June 23. In its first-ever editorial, the paper said it wanted to be a publication of the Hong Kong people. It printed a million copies of its final edition [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

Early last month, rumours started to circulate that Beijing wanted to see the paper be shuttered in time for the Communist Party’s centenary celebrations on July 1.

Technology reporter for a decade, Alex Tang, 37, said like most of his colleagues he had become conditioned to taking unsubstantiated gossip with a grain of salt – until the second raid and the company asset freeze.

During the past few days, some of the 800 reporters at the paper were frustrated by the lack of a definitive answer on the last publishing date and severance.

“Management said they’d hang on till the bitter end, and they’ve kept their word,” said Tang. “The company has done its best.”

Apple Daily will live on as a website on the self-governing island of Taiwan, where it ceased paper publication last month.

But in Hong Kong, China news reporter Chan said he will mourn the loss of far more than his livelihood.

“With the paper gone, so would the values it represents: pursuit of freedom and democracy,” he said.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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