Mabira Riots: Indian Man Killed, Two Assaulted in Racist Attack

3492 Views Kampala, Uganda
A man of Southeast Asian descent has been killed in Kampala by a mob of demonstrators protesting against the planned giveaway of Mabira Forest. A Uganda Radio Network reporter on the scene says the mob stopped the man in his late 30s as he was was riding on his motorcycle from the Diamond Trust junction to the Clock Tower on Entebbe Road. They shouted racist abuses at him and accused him and other Indian nationals were in cahoots to rob Uganda of its natural resources. Despite protests, the man was dragged off his motorcycle. Using sticks and stones he was bludgeoned to death by the mob near Shoprite and his motorcycle was burned. His body has been taken to the Mulago Hospital morgue by the police. The 7,100 hectares of Mabira Forest under contention are to be given to the Sugar Corporation of Uganda (SCOUL), which is owned by the Mehta family that originated from India. The mob also attacked two other Asian nationals who were coming out of Shoprite at Clock Tower. However the police blocked the crowds and swiftly took the victims to safety. They were taken to Mulago Hospital for treatment. The chaos in town started at about 10 o'clock this morning, when a group of about 1,500 demonstrators gathered at the railways square on Jinja Road. The group had been given permission by the police to stage a peaceful demonstration against the Mabira giveaway. Discontent in the crowd arose when the police allowed only a small group of opposition Members of Parliament among whom were Elias Lukwago, Beatrice Atim and Beatrice Alaso, to proceed to the Parliamentary Buildings to hand over a petition to the Speaker. The crowd grew rowdy and attempted to forcefully approach the Parliamentary Avenue, prompting the police to fire teargas at them. The mob retaliated by attacking a police patrol car, smashing its windscreen and sending the five police officers in the car fleeing down Jinja Road. According to the police, the crowd was instructed to leave the city center through Nasser Road, but it ignored the instructions and used the parallel Nkurumah Road. Overwhelmed, the police called in reinforcements from the Military Police and the local defence units. The security officers fought running battles with the crowds along Entebbe Road, Nakivubo Road, Nakasero Road and Ben Kiwanuka Street. However the mob is quite large and the police are not able to keep up with the chaos. A group stopped a Kenyan registered Mercedes Benz truck on Nakivubo Road that was loaded with sugar and burned it. The driver of the truck fled for his life. None of the leaders of the demonstration are to be seen on the streets. Once the commotion broke out, they fled into nearby shops and offices and are still in hiding. The usually busy Clock Tower junction is completely deserted as motorists seek alternative routes out of the city. The police spokesperson for Kampala Extra, Simeo Nsubuga, says the security officers were forced to act against the crowd because it had broken its pledge to hold a peaceful demonstration. He said the full force of the police has been brought out to quell the riots.