Incarcerated writer/novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija has been appointed honorary member of PEN Germany.
His Honorary Certificate issued at Darmstadt on 11th January, 2022 was received by his lawyer Eron Kiiza in Kampala on Friday.
According to Ralf Nestmeyer, the Vice President in charge of Writers in Prison, Kakwenza’s appointment was based on his outstanding literary work and his efforts in continuously recalling the utmost importance of freedom of expression “in our days”.
Kakwenza was in 2021 named International Writer of Courage by PEN.
PEN Germany is part of the worldwide association of writers founded in London in 1921, now known as PEN International. One of over 140 autonomous PEN centres around the world, PEN Centre Germany is based in Darmstadt, Hesse.
Opposition strongman Dr Kizza Besigye thanked PEN Germany for recognizing Kakwenza’s work despite being in critical condition at Kitalya Prison.
“The PEN Germany, appoints Mr Kakwenza Rukirabashaija an Honorary Member!This is while he’s in critical condition in Kitalya prison following intense torture by members of Special Forces Command (SFC) and Police.Thanks PEN Germany.Danke schoen,” Dr Besigye said in a social media post on Friday.
Former Makerere University research fellow also renowned government critic Dr Stella Nyanzi said,” Tonight, I join several others to congratulate Kakwenza Rukirabashaija for his appointment as an honorary member of PEN Germany. While the brutal dictatorship in Uganda unjustly tortures and locks up Kakwenza for his freedom of expression, the international community is celebrating him for “his outstanding literary work, continuously recalling the utmost importance of freedom of expression in our days.” Thank you Counsel Eron Kiiza for receiving the honorary certificate on his behalf, while our comrade sleeps battered and brutalized in prison.”
Kakwenza was on Tuesday charged with two counts of Offensive Communication at Buganda Road Court.
Kakwenza, a controversial government critic was arraigned before Court, charged and remanded to Kitalya State Prison.
The charge sheet stated that Kakwenza willfully and repeatedly used his Twitter handle to disturb the peace of His Excellency the President of Uganda General Yoweri Museveni and First Son Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba with no purpose of legitimate communication.
According to Police’s Criminal Investigations Directorate Spokesperson Charles Twiine, the writer will be brought back to Court on 21st January, 2022 for case hearing.
The development came hot on the heels of High Court’s order to security bosses to produce Kakwenza’s body before Court on 12th January 2022.
In an order for a writ of habeas corpus ad subjiciendum dated 10th January, Justice Musa Sekaana ordered the Commander of Special Forces Command (SFC) Brig Gen Peter Chandia, the Inspector General of Police Martin Okoth Ochola and CID Director Grace Akullo to produce the body of Kakwenza before Court on Wednesday at 10am.
Last week, the Makindye Chief Magistrate’s Court also ordered for an unconditional release of Novelist/writer Kakwenza Rukirabashaija but the requested was not honored.
In a Court order dated 4th January, 2022, Grade One Magistrate Irene Nambatya said Kakwenza should be unconditionally released from police custody and every police officer should comply with the order.
Kakwenza was arrested in December last year from his home in Kisaasi, a Kampala city suburb by armed men.
Police allege that the writer made offensive communication, under the Computer Misuse Act, against President Yoweri Museveni and his son, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, who doubles as the Commander of Land Forces, between December 23, 2021 and December 26, 2021.
Kakwenza’s lawyer Kiiza last Monday said his client had been tortured while in a week-long detention to an extent that he is urinating blood.
Kiiza said Kakwenza legs are swollen and his clothes are blood stained.
“A search is ongoing at Mr Rukirabashaija’s home in Iganga. He is urinating blood. He has swollen legs. He is clearly tortured. He needs urgent medication and counselling,” Kiiza said.
Although the spokesperson of Criminal Investigations Directorate Charles Twiine confirmed that Kiiza was able to access Kakwenza , he said the suspect was not tortured.
This is the third time Kakwenza is being arrested by security personnel. In all incidents, he has claimed that he was tortured. He was arrested in April and September 2020.
About PEN Germany:
PEN Centre Germany upholds the objectives of PEN International in protecting the freedom of intellectual expression throughout the world. PEN Centre Germany supports two main programmes: Writers in Prison and Writers in Exile. Founded in 1999, Writers in Exile is a programme supporting international writers who are given the opportunity to live and work in safety, with accommodation provided in Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg and Munich together with living expenses.
Since 1985 PEN Centre Germany has awarded the Hermann Kesten Medal for outstanding services to persecuted authors.
PEN Centre Germany is also a participant in the annual Writers for Peace Committee founded in 1984.
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