MPs condemn attack on journalists in Lira


Eight journalists from Unity FM were arrested and the radio station closed

Members of the Lango Parliamentary Group have expressed concern on the manner in which journalists working with Unity FM, a radio station in Lira, were handled by security agencies amid the ruckus that rocked Lira town on Saturday. 

It had to take the intervention of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces to calm the situation after Police got overwhelmed by rowdy locals involved in attacks against Asian traders in the region sparked by the alleged killing of 11-yr-old Dickens Okello, a pupil of Alito Primary School in Kole District on November 9. 

Residents claim that two men of Asian decent operating in Lira strangled Okello and accused Police of trying to covering up the crime, sparking rage among the locals. 

During the violent protests shops were looted and goods stolen as tear gas and live bullets were fired to contain the irate locals. 

Amid the chaos, eight journalists from Unity FM were arrested and the radio station closed on grounds that they were inciting the already angry locals. 

However these were released on Police bond on Tuesday but the radio station remains closed as investigations are still on going. 

While addressing journalists at Parliament on Wednesday, MPs representing the people of Lango led by their chairperson Jonathan Odur (Erute County South), condemned the act, stating that the force exhibited by security personnel was rather uncalled for. 

“Media freedom is being tampered with and this was portrayed by the clamp down on Unity FM. Do not kill the messenger because he is bringing bad news,” said Odonga Otto (Aruu County).

The MPs also rubbished the government statement on the issue presented by state minister of internal affairs, Kania Obiga, on the floor of Parliament on Tuesday stating that it was one-sided and misleading because it ignored the core issues. 

“What were those guns for? Langis have for long been known as peaceful people. We have co-existed with so many people. These Asians even live deep in our villages and we have never attacked them,” said Santa Alum (Oyam Woman). 

Alum who is also the vice chairperson of the group, said the way government is handling the matter “is not satisfactory with such a serious matter.” 

“What is happening in Lango is not good; government is treating us as if we are secondary citizens. We are disappointed by the impunity of these Asians. Government should tell us why the laws of this country are applied selectively,” said Odur.

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