Do These Images Show the Recent Protests in Uganda?

There are images circulating as part of the hashtag #EndPoliceBrutalityinUganda campaign, claiming to show the level of police brutality and the current unrest in Uganda.

Background

Civil unrest broke out in Uganda on November 18 when presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, commonly known as Bobi Wine and his fellow presidential aspirant Patrick Amuriat were arrested. A statement from the Ugandan Electoral Commission says that Bobi Wine was arrested for failing to comply with the given guidelines for election campaigns.

Crowds protesting the arrests were met with armed police and military officers, who are reported to have harassed the protestors hence the hashtag #EndPoliceBrutalityinUganda. According to a tweet published on the Uganda Police Force handle, at least 45 people have died in the riots.

The Electoral Commission’s Media and Public Relations Manager Paul Bukenya announced that the Ugandan general elections will take place on January 14, 2021.

Verification

This tweet with an image portraying a woman hiding from a group of armed officers is actually from Kenya. A Google image reverse search reveals that the photo was taken in 2017 during the violence that followed that year’s elections. This image was featured in reports published by The New York Times and the BBC.

Another tweet with an image of shirtless men lying on the floor while armed officers stand over them is also not from the recent events in Uganda.

A Google image reverse search shows that the photo was taken in 2011. The image was published on April 29, 2011 by The Atlantic website in an article covering the ‘Walk to Work’ protest led by Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye. It was also published on The Journal website. A second image on the same tweet, showing five police officers handling a man seating in a trench is also from 2011. The image was featured in an article published in June 2011 on the Free Uganda blog.

Another tweet showing a petrol station on fire is actually from September 2020, before the political unrest had begun. A Google image reverse search reveals that the image is of Moka Energy Petrol Station located along Entebbe Road. Articles published on New Vision and The Observer websites indicate that the fire broke out from a canter that had been transporting fuel.

However, the second image attached to the tweet – showing a destroyed street with smoke – is actually from the recent protests.

Verdict

The images claiming to show the impact of electoral protests that began in Uganda on November 18, 2020, are FALSE.

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Linda Ngari

Linda is a fact-checking and data journalist. She is currently the Piga Firimbi editor. She is passionate about acquiring and utilising OSINT tools and skills to tell stories that matter to a modern day tech-savvy audience in innovative ways.