Hacktivists have reportedly downed the website of Uganda Police in the wake of protests triggered by the arrest of Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, also known by his pop star alias, Bobi Wine.
Wine is the presidential candidate of the center-left progressive political party, the National Unity Platform (NUP). He was arrested in Eastern Uganda’s Luuka District and charged with violating government restrictions on gatherings put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 by holding mass rallies.
Nicholas Opiyo, Wine’s lawyer, said that the Iganga Court released the singer on bail in the afternoon of Friday, November 20. According to RedPepper Digital, the Uganda Police website went down later that same night.
Visitors to https://www.upf.go.ug/ were redirected to a different address where the following message was displayed: “This site can’t be reached. www.upf.go.ug took too long to respond.”
RedPepper reports that well-known international hacking collective Anonymous was responsible for the cyber-attack.
“Anonymous owned up to the incident revealing that they were responding to recent events in Uganda that saw lives lost as police tried to disperse protestors who were against the arrest of NUP presidential candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine.”
Anonymous shared the following message via its Twitter account @YouAnonCentral on November 20: “#Uganda: Anonymous has taken down @PoliceUg’s website in response to recent violent government repression & killings.
“Anonymous calls for police to respect human lives & the freedom of peaceful assembly and protest. #UgandaIsBleeding #ugandanlivesmatter.”
Last week, Ugandan officials said that 37 people had been killed in violent protests in the country as Wine’s supporters clashed with security forces.
Uganda Police’s chief pathologist, Moses Byaruhanga, said that while it was not clear who was responsible for the deaths, most of the individuals whose lives were snatched away from them through violence died from gunshot wounds and traumatic injuries.
Opiyo said the arrest of Wine was an attempt to stifle the voice of the country’s strongest political challenger to Uganda’s longtime leader Yoweri Museveni ahead of elections scheduled to take place early next year.
Recent political rallies held by 76-year-old Museveni have not attracted police interference or resulted in any charges being brought against the president for coronavirus violations.