Benin’s Angelique Kidjo and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin are among the dozens of stars who have signed a petition calling for the release of Ugandan musician-turned-MP Bobi Wine.
“We can’t just turn a blind eye – this is serious,” Dele Sosimi, who started his career as Fela Kuti’s keyboard player, told the BBC. He says he signed the petition because “it’s alarming to see the rule of law and basic human rights cast aside”.
“It’s like a re-run of Fela [Kuti]. He was often beaten for speaking out,” says Rikki Stein, the former manager for the Nigerian music legend, who started the petition.
Uganda’s army denies reports that Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, has been tortured while in their custody since last week, and President Yoweri Museveni has labelled it “fake news”.
The petition, signed by some of the biggest names in music, criticises the “vicious, life-threatening physical attack” on Wine and the killing of his driver after a by-election campaign turned violent last week in northern Uganda.
The artists say they are using their “voices and networks” to call for the MP’s immediate and unconditional release as well as the “lawful and humane treatment” of others detained alongside him.
Wine is due to appear in court on Thursday to face charges relating to the illegal possession of firearms.