Uganda’s National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU) has contested the manner in which police handled People with Disabilities (PWDs) who were demonstrating early this week, over a disputed piece of land.
On Monday, PWDs under their umbrella body ‘Abalema United Efforts’ staged a demonstration at the Land commission offices in Kampala opposing the eviction from a piece of land in Wandegeya by Tirupati Company, and Bishop Patrick Baligasima. They were however thwarted by the police.
PWDs claim that the land in question measuring about half an acre on plot 175 Bombo Road was given to them by the country’s President Yoweri Museveni in 2005, to use for development. However records indicate that the Salvation Army holds the lease title to the same land.
Gerald Kaketa, The Vice Chairman of ‘Abalema United Efforts’ narrates how police tear-gassed, kicked and bundled them on a pickup, after confiscating their crutches and wheelchairs.
NUDIPU Chairperson Francis Kinubi wants the office of the president to provide clarity on the true ownership of the land in question. He says NUDIPU will lead a delegation of the affected PWDs to state house to have the matter resolved. He is also calling for punitive action against police officers who were involved in mishandling PWDs during the demonstration.
Kinubi adds that ‘Abalema United Efforts’ is also seeking legal redress through a case filed in court over the same dispute. The High Court is expected to deliver the ruling on the matter this Thursday.
However Edison Ngirabakunzi, The Executive Director NUDIPU noted that most police officers are ill-trained in dispersing crowds involving PWDs, citing the removal of mobility devices which demobilizes PWDs and puts them in danger of getting more disabilities.