Statement by Ugandan Literary Community about Stella Nyanzi

Statement by Ugandan Literary Community about Stella Nyanzi

Dear writers, editors, authors, bloggers, publishers, curators, literary activists, scholars and colleagues in the creative sector, kindly consider signing the petition / public statement below.

We will keep updating the list of signatories. By 11:15 am when we published the statement publicly, it was signed by 68 writers.

CONCERNS ABOUT THE STATE OF FREE CREATIVE EXPRESSION IN UGANDA FOLLOWING THE JAILING OF STELLA NYANZI

To the Government of Uganda

We, Ugandan writers, editors, authors, bloggers, publishers, curators, literary activists, scholars and colleagues in the creative sector hereby express our concerns as to the environment in which we operate in Uganda following the arrest and prosecution of one of us, Dr. Stella Nyanzi.

On April 10, 2017, we were shocked to learn that Dr. Nyanzi was charged with cyber harassment the particulars of which offence include her deployment of a metaphor to express herself. That using the metaphor of ‘pair of buttocks’ to refer to a person can form a basis for a criminal charge sent chills in the creative writing community.

This means that we are unable to express ourselves creatively, to contribute to our country’s literary and cultural wealth if our frame of references, our deployment of literary devices can lead to criminal prosecution.

While the right to free expression applies to everyone, it is of particular importance to the creative industry because it allows room to utilise imaginations, to entertain, to challenge, to inform, to educate, and to document among other functions of creative expression.

We are concerned that the imprisonment of Dr Stella Nyanzi, may open a floodgate for the criminalisation of creativity in Uganda. This would be a reversal of the achievements of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) in creating a favourable environment for the opening up of free and creative spaces in Uganda that have increased since 1986.

We therefore appeal to the authorities to reflect on the implications of the charges against Stella Nyanzi on the creative industry and drop them for the good of our literary culture and the country.

For God and Our Country

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