From: Reuters
Published November 23, 2007 11:41 AM

Police beat protesters during Commonwealth summit

By Justin Dralaze

KAMPALA (Reuters) - Police beat protesters during a Commonwealth summit on Friday as they tried to demonstrate against human rights abuses in Uganda.

Some demonstrators were carried away with head wounds, their clothes splashed with blood, after more than 100 police blocked a march on Kampala city centre and charged with batons.

Witnesses said one police officer also suffered a head injury when the demonstrators threw stones after the march was halted.

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"This is nothing new. This is what we have been living through all this time. This is a police force that does not respect the rights of citizens at all," opposition leader Kizza Besigye said as the demonstrators scattered.

Police said they were acting within the law and the protesters had known they were not permitted to march out of a suburb where the demonstration was authorized.

The protesters said the Commonwealth, which began a three-day summit on Friday, had ignored human rights abuses by the government of President Yoweri Museveni, which Western diplomats say ruthlessly suppresses opposition in Uganda.

Elizabeth Evenson, of U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, condemned the police action.

"Using force to keep opposition supporters out of sight of the Commonwealth summit reflects continuing limitations on political freedoms. Commonwealth leaders should take President Museveni to task," she said.

The demonstrators earlier waved banners criticizing Queen Elizabeth, who opened the summit. "Queen, you are the head of our problems," one said.

(Writing by Jeremy Clarke, editing by Barry Moody)

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