Stella Nyanzi sparks new debate on freedom of speech

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Ugandan activist Stella Nyanzi has been charged with cyber harassment for referring to President Yoweri Museveni as "a pair of buttocks".

The 42-year old Dr. Stella Nyanzi has rapidly become a house-hold name in Uganda, and some would say a much- loved liberation struggle icon, after she unleashed a volcano of colorful alleged "vulgarities" at Gen. Museveni and his wife Janet, the Education minister, whom Dr. Nyanzi accused of having an uncaring attitude towards the Ugandan and African girl-child.

Stella Nyanzi criticised Janet Museveni on Facebook after the government reneged on a campaign pledge to supply free sanitary pads to schoolgirls.

Nyanzi appeared in a court in Kampala on Monday April 10th where she was charged with making a remark that was obscene or indecent.

Semakadde said they wrote to the commissioner general of Uganda Prisons Services to protest what he called a government action that violates the sub judice rule.

"The arrest and criminal charges brought against Dr. Nyanzi are yet another clear indicator that those who express critical views of the government can face its wrath", Burnett said. I reject the forgiveness from her tiny /i *wrote Nyanzi. "She was picked up after the Rotary Fellowship that she addressed this evening", someone posted on Nyanzi's Facebook page on Friday.

A year ago she was in the spotlight when her battle against eviction from an office at the prestigious Makerere University's Institute of Social Research came to light.

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Nyanzi is popular on Facebook for her relentless criticism of Museveni, who has ruled since 1986.

THE Ugandan government is under pressure to release a staunch critic of President Yoweri Museveni and the First Lady for failure to provide sanitary pads to schoolgirls.

In an interview with a local TV station earlier in April, Janet Museveni said she had forgiven Nyanzi's criticism.

In her customary graphic language, Ms Nyanzi accused the first lady of being out of touch with reality.

Dr Nyanzi also organized a public fundraising drive to buy sanitary towels for girls in school, which has collected thousands of dollars and gained widespread publicity among Ugandans at home and overseas.

"The manner of Nyanzi's arrest on Friday was more about intimidation than law enforcement", she added.

The academic, who trained as medical anthropologist, often uses sexual imagery to underscore her points on Facebook, leading many to accuse her of obscenity in this conservative country.