DefendDefenders mourns Mariam Nakibuuka 

DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) announces the untimely demise of our dear colleague and friend, Ms. Mariam Nakibuuka who passed away on Monday 26 July 2021. We extend our deepest condolences to her family and friends during this trying time. 

Mariam joined DefendDefenders in 2015 as an intern and rose through the ranks from being a fellow, a Protection Assistant, to becoming a Senior Protection Associate. She was a dedicated and committed employee and human rights defender, working tirelessly to ensure human rights defenders at risk received the support needed to continue their work. She will be remembered for her passion for human rights, care for the safety and wellbeing of both her colleagues and human rights defenders. 

Due to the prevailing pandemic and the presidential directives on COVID-19 that are being implemented in Uganda, we are unable to hold a public vigil or convene in large numbers to pay tribute to Mariam. Nonetheless, DefendDefenders will host an online vigil in honor of our fallen colleague, and together with the bereaved family, work around livestreaming the funeral.  

Mariam will be laid to rest on Wednesday 28 July 2021 at 12noon (EAT). 

We mourn with her family and friends, and celebrate her impactful life, lived in service of others. We commit the family into God’s merciful protection hands to find solace and comfort in this time of grief. “The Lord will be your everlasting light and your days of sorrow will end.” Isaiah 60:20 

May Mariam’s soul rest in eternal peace. 

Hassan Shire 

Executive Director, DefendDefenders  

Chairperson AfricanDefenders 

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Human Rights Defender of the Month: Anny Kapenga

As a young student, Anny Kapenga used to cringe at the cult-like worship of Mobutu Sese Seko, the then Zaire’s President. By then, in the early 1990s, Zaire was still under one party rule, and calls were increasing for Mobutu to open political space to allow other parties to operate. In the meantime, however, all Zairians were expected to show affection for Mobutu wherever they gathered in public.

Students across Zaire’s schools were required to sing and dance adoringly before his (Mobutu)’s portrait every morning before they went to class, and all school scholastic materials were emblemed with his portrait. A young Anny never really appreciated the obsession:

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