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Uganda: Women's Groups, Lawyers Join Walk to Work Protests

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

The temporary absence of Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye, who was flown to Nairobi for medical treatment after being sprayed directly in the eyes with tear gas during Walk to Work protests on April 28, 2011, appears to have spurred even more citizens to action.

As the protests enter their second month, the original group of opposition politicians has now been joined by women's organizations and lawyers who are angered not only by high fuel and food prices, but also by the brutality of the government's response to the protests.

Edward of the Echwalu Photography blog describes the women's demands:

Express solidarity with women, men and children suffering from the high food and fuel prices, no more use of live ammunition, indiscriminate physical assault on civilians, promote fundamental rights of citizens enshrined in Chap 4 of the constitution, address social and economic issues, address food security, unemployment, health and education.

Edward also posts a number of photos of the women's organizations protests, including one of women near a fuel station sign advertising premium fuel for 3,490 Ugandan shillings per liter, or approximately $5.50 per gallon:

Ugandan women's organizations join protests against rising fuel and food costs. Photo by Echwalu Photography

Timothy Hatcher of Araa Linuga blog compares the women's protest to the British suffragette movement a century ago:

I read on the internet today that the spirit that the suffragettes in the UK possessed in the early 20th century was lost in our world. Uganda at times seems a world away from the UK, but some sentiments are universal and do not depend on locale. I hope that Monday's display of solidarity of women for a cause important for all within their society, even when there was the potential for personal harm and/or arrest, is a sign that the spirit is reviving.

Last week Uganda's lawyers went on strike to protest the violence with which police have cracked down on demonstrators. This is the not the first time Uganda's lawyers have gone on strike to protest the government's treatment of Kizza Besigye, who has been arrested and jailed numerous times in the past few years. In 2005, Brian of the blog Black Star Journal described an earlier strike:

Today, the Ugandan Law Society held a one day strike in favor of the independence of the judiciary, which the lawyers feel is threatened.

They are particularly incensed by an event that I wrote about earlier. Dozens of military commandos showed up to surround the court building, during legal proceedings launched against opposition leader Dr Kizza Besigye.

If Dr Besigye is truly guilty of the crimes the regime accuses him of, then surely they don't need military intimidation of the civilian courts.

Though Besigye appears to be at the center of the protests, Iwaya of Mad and Crazy cautions observers to remember that the true heart of the demonstrations is not support for the opposition but outrage over the country's current economic situation:

W-2-W is not about Dr. Besigye though the government propaganda machine has worked its damn hardest to try and reduce it to the person of Besigye. It is about the appalling economic situation Ugandans find themselves in today led by an unresponsive government that folds its hands and declares, “There's nothing we can do,” to alleviate your suffering, but you have got to keep paying those taxes on time.

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

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