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PICTURES: Martyrs day celebrations or a police show of force?

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For many decades now, Uganda has been celebrating Martyrs Day every 3rd of June.  The event is marked by pilgrimage from all corners of the country who trek for days in order to reach the venue at Namugongo in Kampala.  For all those decades, there has never been any incident of serious security breach targeting the occasion.  However, of recent the Museveni military junta has hijacked the occasion and turned it into a security parade for a show of force.

The junta uses the excuse of terrorism to play on the psychology of Ugandans.  It unnecessarily deployed all its security arsenal in a show of force.  During the just concluded celebrations in particular, the junta deployed 11,000 of its personnel to take charge of security around the venue in and around Namugongo.

The police chief justified the extra ordinary heavy deployment thus; “We are to deploy a force of 11,000 officers both in overt and covert operations. This is a joint force because we anticipate threats of terrorism and we want to cover all the avenues that could be used by the saboteurs.”

The inter-agency deployment was comprised of Bomb Squads, Fire and Rescue, Canine (Dog Section), Sniper Squads, FFU (Anti-riot), covert intelligence operatives, Marines, Air Wing and the regular uniformed police. Various roadblocks were erected in and around Namugongo, security checks, motorised and foot patrols, planes hovering in the air, snap checks, presence of combat logistics was not only an unnecessary inconvenience to the pilgrims and local residents but a distraction to church service.

This business of holding at ransom, blackmailing and duping Ugandans must be checked.  Otherwise, if there had been a terrorist ploy to harm pilgrims, the nature of security deployment wouldn’t have deterred it.  Why couldn’t the so-called terrorists target these pilgrims during those treacherous unaccompanied day and night journeys on foot from the countryside to Kampala?  Is a terrorist attack only possible in the capital city and the venue of celebrations and no where else?


  1. The Museveni junta fears that the pro-change Ugandans could use the occasion to mobilise Ugandans from the countryside to the city for protests as had been the case with the Arab Spring.
  2. The Junta uses the occasion to further its terror scheme (instilling fear) into the minds of Ugandans by way of show of force.
  3. The junta uses the occasion to make a public demonstration of the logistical and human resources in order to justify huge budgetary allocation allotted to the security sector.

Otherwise, display and exposure of the level of preparedness, mode of operation, logistical and human resource backup etc. could play into he hands of a potential terrorist; if at all Uganda will ever be a target.  How come during the One Love concert by Ariana Grande in Manchester two days after the London Bridge terror attack we did not witness a heavy police deployment? That is not to say the UK police never heavily deployed; they did but because they were driven by a different motive, it didn’t look like a security parade as is the case under Museveni, the “security expert.”


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