Uganda: Police Paint Protesters Pink

This post is part of our special coverage Uganda: Walk to Work Protests.

Ugandan police have responded to the past month's ongoing Walk to Work protests by spraying protesters with tear gas and live bullets. During a demonstration on Tuesday, they took a different tack, firing water cannons filled with pink liquid at demonstrators who were attempting to walk to Constitution Square in the center of Kampala.

Uganda's New Vision Newspaper tweeted a photo of opposition leaders covered in the paint. yfrog Photo user flashdancer11 shared the photo below:

Some bloggers pointed out the irony of the government spraying protesters pink — a color often associated with the gay and lesbian community — given the anti-homosexuality bill currently making its way through Uganda's Parliament. Blogger Afrogay writes:

…might this also be a subliminal response to the leader of the opposition, Kizza Besigye, for pledging four months ago to decriminalize homosexuality if elected?

To which AfroGay would say to the head of the military guys drenching opposition in pink: thanks guys but the pink color is really just a metaphor. There is no need to take it too literally.

The hashtag #pinkstuff is also popular topic in the Ugandan Twittersphere:

@Rosejackson3: So illegal to #walk2work in UG w/o permit. If you drive, windows smashed & tear gas to face. If you fly, blocked. If you stand-#pinkstuff

@ishtank: On the other hand, think of the stories we'll tell our great-grandchildren. “Kaaka, where were you the day #pinkStuff #trended on #Twitter?”

While many found the “pink stuff” humorous, others are still upset at the government's treatment of protesters. Blogger KellyUganda writes:

Why does this seem incredibly Hitler/Nazi-esque to me? As if people don't have the right to demonstrate! I don't know how Museveni can even pretend to be running a democracy. No doubt these people are being sprayed pink so that police can harrass and interrogate them and abuse them in the effort to crush their spirit of civic duty and freedom of expression!

In a post titled “Turning Pink,” another blogger, Rhino, laments the government's actions:

I'm starting to dislike my government very much, it shows so much fear, infantile logic and an alarming willingness to resort to violence. That is not what I want from it. I want it to be just, to inspire me to be a better person and to help me create a better place for my kin and I to live in. I don't want it to threaten me with death should I choose to differ in opinion and practice, if that is the society it wishes to create, then I would rather not be party to it.

This post is part of our special coverage Uganda: Walk to Work Protests.


Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.