Ugandan Activist Allegedly Beaten Amid Crackdown on Oil Pipeline Protesters

Stephen Kwikiriza, a campaigner against the controversial $5 billion East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), is recovering in hospital after allegedly being beaten by the Ugandan armed forces. Kwikiriza, who works for the Environment Governance Institute (EGI), was reportedly abducted in Kampala on June 4 and abandoned hundreds of miles away on Sunday evening.

The EGI stated that Kwikiriza was found in poor condition after enduring severe mistreatment and abuse. However, the Uganda People’s Defence Force denied responsibility and accused Kwikiriza of faking his abduction.

According to the International Federation for Human Rights, Kwikiriza is one of 11 campaigners against oil projects targeted by Ugandan authorities in the past two weeks, with an additional 11 students arrested and awaiting trial for staging a peaceful march against the pipeline in November.

The EACOP plans, backed by Total, China National Offshore Oil Corporation, and the Ugandan and Tanzanian governments, have faced criticism from environmentalists who claim the route endangers national parks and will displace tens of thousands of people. At least 47 protesters have been detained or arrested by Ugandan security forces since September 2020.

Kwikiriza had been reporting on alleged human rights abuses around the Kingfisher oilfields, and the EGI’s chief executive, Samuel Okulony, stated that there had been increasing violence due to the success of the campaign against oil activities in Uganda.

TotalEnergies E&P Uganda expressed relief at Kwikiriza’s release and reaffirmed its stance against threats or violence towards human rights defenders while monitoring the situation closely.

About Geraldine Boechat 2762 Articles
Senior Editor for Medafrica Times and former journalist for Swiss National Television. former NGO team leader in Burundi and Somalia