The African Studies Association—the largest organization of its kind, representing the interests of 2,000 scholars of Africa—deplores the behavior of Uganda’s police and military currently deployed at Makerere University, Uganda. Undergraduates have been abused and beaten, their halls of residence have been ransacked, and student leaders have been detained. Teargas has been used indiscriminately: police have fired canisters into student living quarters and into the University Library. Live bullets have been fired to break up student assemblies. Journalists covering these events have been assaulted and brutalized.
Undergraduate students’ protests at Makerere are occasioned by their disquiet over rising fees and tuition, and by their unhappiness with the fabric of the student residences. Their right to protest over these and other matters is protected in the Constitution of Uganda, which acknowledges the freedoms of expression, assembly, and speech.
Makerere University has long been one of Africa’s leading institutions of higher learning, and in recent years the University’s administration—supported by the Ministry of Education of the Government of Uganda—has been engaged in improving the standard of research and teaching. Makerere’s success is vital to Uganda’s future. Its institutional resources, its prestige, and the energy and trust of its students and faculty ought not be squandered.
We regard the Government of Uganda’s response to legitimate student protest as disproportionate and counterproductive. We urge the Uganda Government to de-militarize its response to student protest; to seek dialogue with responsible student leaders; and to work with faculty and staff to restore trust and order at this vitally important institution.
United States Embassy Statement on Recent Events at Makerere University
Uganda Monitor, ‘What Makerere tuition protest is all about’