Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Amnesty International says the Kenyan government has a duty to protect the rights of all citizens

Over the past three weeks vigilante groups have been active in Kirinyaga district, ostensibly to provide community protection or security against the operations of Mungiki members who have been demanding money as protection fees from residents of the area.

Amnesty International emphasizes that the state has an obligation to respect and protect the right to life of everyone within its jurisdiction.

The Kenyan Government must not abdicate its duty to respect and protect life by explicitly or tacitly supporting the activities of vigilante groups. If the state permits vigilante or similar groups to carry out security or law enforcement functions, any abuses they commit in doing so, including extrajudicial executions or other unlawful killings of criminal suspects, are human rights violations for which the state is responsible. The Kenyan authorities cannot evade their obligations by letting vigilante groups carry out unlawful killings.

It is likewise an abdication of their duty for the police to state that they will not act because whenever they do, they are accused of extrajudicial executions. It is the role of the state, through its law enforcement agencies, to provide adequate security and protection against violent crime. In doing so, the police must use only such force as is strictly necessary and proportionate for the performance of their duty. The government must ensure that the police or any other bodies which carry out law enforcement functions comply with Kenya's international human rights obligations. Deliberately killing a criminal suspect rather than arresting them is an extrajudicial execution.

As the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, arbitrary or summary executions said, following his visit to Kenya in February 2009, "all Governments have to deal with criminals, and it is one of the central duties of a Government to protect its citizens from such persons. But ... the proper response to criminality is not to shoot a suspect in the back of the head ..., but to investigate, arrest, and try the suspect in accordance with law".

Amnesty International calls on the Kenyan authorities to ensure that independent and impartial investigations are carried out into all these killings, whether by suspected Mungiki members, by members of vigilante groups, or by the police. Those suspected of being responsible should be arrested and prosecuted in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty, and families of those killed should receive reparations.

Amnesty International also calls on the Kenyan authorities to investigate the role of the police and relevant security personnel in expressing support for the operations of vigilante groups carrying out killings of Mungiki members.

Quotes from Kenya government must protect the rights of all.

The Mungiki menace, and other militant groups need to be dealt with. It is alarming when some of the police force express their support for the Mungiki.

When I first heard about the Mungiki years ago, I assumed that part of their philosophy was not to kill their own people. These guys take butchering to another level altogether, and give me the creeps.

My prayers are with everyone who lost their lives, or was harmed by them last week.

Somali government has condemned the hard line islamic group invading Kenya

The new Somali government has sharply condemned threats of fresh attacks on neighboring Kenya by hard-line Islamic insurgent group al-Shabab. The group, which has refused to recognize President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's government threatened Monday to annex parts of northern Kenya and implement Islamic Sharia law. Nairobi on the other hand has begun strong measures to counter such an attack by deploying extra troops to man the Kenya-Somali border and maintain the disarmament of residents in the province.

Somali cabinet minister Abdirashid Irro Mohammed told VOA that Mogadishu stands in unison with its neighbor to thwart the insurgent group's violent activities aimed to destabilize the region.

"Really, we are very sorry and we condemn such actions. Kenya is our neighbor state and our brotherly country, and they have their own constitution. So there is no reason that al-Shabab should attack them and endorse the sharia law. So here, that is a very bad action and we condemn it, and we don't accept those kinds of threats… so I can say they (al-Shabab) are the enemies for all the region," Mohammed said.

Quotes from Somali Government condemns insurgent moves to annex parts of Kenya

My concern is that I don't think President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, is any way able to control these militants.

I just hope that sufficient troops are sent to the border to deal with this.

Monday, 27 April 2009

No rest for Kenya

Yesterday I met a Somali friend of mine. His view on what was happening in Kenya, was that Raila and Kibaki were just a smokescreen. He believed that the Somali government *coughs* were trying to destablilise Kenya. I laughed it off as another conspiracy theory. He kept on telling me that Kenyans should not go down the violence route, or we will end up like Somalia. I wish I had the power to make things right, but hey, I wait to see what will unfold, as always.

Then I came across this article,a Somali rebel group has threatened to invade Kenya, and think that my friend may have been talking sense.

A Somali rebel group which is fighting the transitional government of the Horn of Africa nation have threatened fresh attacks on Kenya, seeking annexing part of the east African nation's northern region and subject it to Islamic law

I think our neighbours are capitalising on our instability.

Update: That border needs to be tightened, but I guess that is not a priority for the powers that be, at this moment and time.

I wonder whether there is any truth in Chris's post on Kumekucha, that Kibaki insiders are plotting a third term.

A quote I like

I would rather tread with cautious pessimism than wild optimism. If two bulls are put in one kraal, expect no peace in that kraal, for both bulls but also for the other cows. The older bull will always want to flex its muscle and apply its authority on the young and new one. To do so, it has no choice but to use violence. But of course, the young and new bull won't take kindly to this. It will resist any moves to be sidelined. At the back of it's mind, the young bull is convinced that the old has no real stamina, and that in any case this is the moment for a new leader in the kraal.

Quote from Behkinkosi Moyo, after the swearing in of Morgan Tsvangirai as Prime Minister.

He could have been talking about Kenya.

Related article:Its animal farm all over again

Different voices on challenging the Kikuyu Oligarchy

Despite Mwai Kibaki's stated commitment to operate a meritocracy with regard to the diversity of Kenya, his appointments to the most sensitive and crucial offices have been biased towards members of a Kikuyu oligarchy, write Maina Kiai and Paul Muite.

Calling for their fellow Kikuyus to abandon 'blind ethnic loyalty to decisions made by some wealthy old men' who have 'nothing but disdain for the majority of Kikuyu, who are poor and struggling', Kiai and Muite reject the elevation of ethnicity 'beyond all other identities and interests' in favour of a national outlook and perspective. 'For us, it does not matter what ethnic group the leadership comes from: We expect and demand a government which has the interests of the nation at heart, which is fair, honest, effective, accountable and transparent. And we expect the government to follow the law, especially with regard to human life, and fundamental rights'.

Consider the following. It is during the time of a Kikuyu president, with a Kikuyu minister for internal security, a Kikuyu intelligence chief, a Kikuyu head of CID (Criminal investigation department), a Kikuyu PS in internal security, when there are extra-judicial killings of poor young Kikuyu men, claimed to be Mungiki. More than 600 cases are documented of these deaths in 2006, and hundreds more disappeared. For the sake of argument, lets assume they were Mungiki, despite the fact human rights defenders are sure that more than two-thirds of them were not. There are laws that govern these matters. Why were they not used? Killing poor young Kikuyu men, illegally, does not solve the problem of Mungiki. It shows utter contempt for the poor. It shows us that although we are expected to 'speak with one voice'; the Kikuyu community is certainly not one. There is the powerful, old class and there is the 'other' Kikuyu.

Quotes from Challenging the Kikuyu Oligarchy by Maina Kiai and Paul Muite.

Maina Kiai,Paul Muite, and John Githongo (who is not mentioned in the article), are seen as traitors by some Kikuyus.

I wonder why there is an expectation from some Kikuyus that they should all speak with one voice.

I feel that the violence towards Kikuyus after the rigged elections, was because some people believed all Kikuyus spoke with one voice, and took it upon themselves to harm them, which is wrong.This was a tragedy. The culprits were sitting in their ivory towers untouched, while other innocent Kikuyus were butchered.

Joe Ndungu in his post Maina Kiai, Paul Muite autophobia extreme, on his Kikuyu nationalism blog takes things further by stating Maina Kiai, Paul Muite and Binyanvanga are Kikuyus who suffer from self hatred.

Joe Ndungu acknowledges that Kibaki and co, may have failed in some areas.


However,I struggle with his view that Kikuyus who challenge the Kibaki style of government, corruption, theft etc have self hatred.I cannot see the link at all. As far as I am concerned John Githongo, Maina Kiai and Binyanvanga, are Kenyans first.

They are serving their country, and because they will not collude with the Mt Kenya Mafia that amounts to self hatred?

He also adds that these individuals are out to destroy the community.

What I am unsure of is what is Joe Ndungu's definition of the Kikuyu community, and would all Kikuyus, accept his definition?

I am not sure about his comment, that these men loathe everything Kikuyu. I have met some of these men, and have no recollection of them hating all things Kikuyu.

To draw a parallel if you are a parent, and you find out that your child has raped, or murdered someone, would you turn them in?

It is a tough call, and we are programmed to protect our families. However some parents will turn their children in, and others will not.

The big family is Kenya in this instance, and in my view these men are out to protect the family, ie Kenya first. If one child chooses to take all they can get at the expense of the others, some other members of the family will step in and challenge that behaviour. By challenging the behaviour, and trying to see that each child is accepted and valued does not mean that as a parent, you are trying to destroy the child who had attempted to take everything. You are modelling that things should be shared within the family, if you are to live in harmony.

My view is that constructive criticism is healthy,and expected, in all relationships.

Clearly if we are living under a dictatorship, then that is not going to happen.

I shudder at the thought of living in a society where individuals challenging leaders from their own tribe is seen as unacceptable.

No freedom of speech or justice.

I appreciate that Joe Ndungu may be experiencing hurt,anger and rejection by the positions that Binyanvanga, Paul Muite, and Maina Kiai have taken. My sense from his blog post, is that Kikuyus should not behave in this manner.

I question his need to be a part of a community where it is not acceptable to challenge your leaders who try to destroy our country,if they come from your own tribe.

However I accept that this may be his idea of Kikuyu nationalism.

Related article: This is not about Uhuru, its about a contemptuos Kikuyu Kingdom

Thursday, 23 April 2009

US based Human Rights groups worried about Key Western Allies in East Africa

A US based human rights group is alarmed about the number of governments in East Africa and the Horn, which use repressive and violent tactics to stay in power and silence their opponents.

Kenya is featured on the list, no surprises there.

Albin-Lackey says one of the biggest disappointments has been the government of political rivals President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga in Kenya.

The coalition government, considered one of the most important regional partners for the United States and the European Union, was formed last year after disputed presidential elections sparked country-wide riots and tribal fighting. Both Kenyan leaders had pledged to work together to heal the nation and to tackle poverty and corruption.

But Albin-Lackey says renewed allegations of high-level corruption, a government attempt to implement a law designed to muzzle the media and U.N. charges that Kenyan security forces were authorized to carry out hundreds of extrajudicial killings in 2007 have all raised questions about the government's commitment to democracy and reform.

"Kenya is so hobbled by corruption and by the quality of governance that the threat of poverty and ethnic violence boiling over again into something like what we saw after the elections is becoming more and more real," he said.

Something needs to be done, but will it be done?

How much power do our human rights groups have in Kenya, to effect change?


Related article: Kenya's crumbling government

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Another slap in the face

I have just read Gladwell Otieno's article about how rewarding ECK chiefs is like throwing good money after bad.

I agree with his sentiments. The send off packages that the former ECK commissioners will get, I feel is an insult. I see it as rewarding bad behaviour, disrupting the healing process that a lot of Kenyans are going through,and refusing to acknowledge the role that the ECK played in the 2007 elections.

Kenya yetu.

The sick society we live in

This video was brought to my attention by Prince Hamilton.Did any of these killers ever get tried?

I ask the question, and wonder whether in some parts of Kenya today it is standard practice to kill a person, knowing that you are above the law.

I have to confess that when I go home these days, I am fearful of gun crime, and car jacking in a way that I wasn't before. Back in my day ie the eighties, things were very different.

On my way to work this morning, I read this story about a twelve year old boy who took part in a gang killing.

Flipping hell, at twelve years old, I didn't have the guts or know how to do something like this. Here in London, when I see kids, or teens up to trouble, I don't intervene. Doing so, could cost me my life, and I am aware these kids are of another breed altogether.

Life is cheap.

I remember going to Dar es Salaam in the eighties, and staying with some friends. I was struck by how well behaved the children were in Dar. They respected their elders to the point that when you walked on the street, they made way for you. They made a point of greeting you first, as you passed them playing. It touched me. I don't expect children to bow down to their elders, however having some respect for them I believe is a good thing.

These are changing times.

Related article:Slaughter of the innocents

Monday, 20 April 2009

What is undermining Kenya's peace agreement

The European Union on Monday raised their concerns that impunity and accountability are key constraints to the peace agreement signed last year.

Priorities for the coalition partners:

  • Establishment of a tribunal to deal with Post election violence.

  • Accountability for extra judicial killings, and an establishment of the police review board.

  • Constitutional reform.

  • Freedom of association, freedom of speech,and freedom of assembly need to be safeguarded.

A determined Kenyan deportee in Kansas who prefers jail to being sent back home

The authorities in Kansas are having difficulty deciding what to do with David Kihuha. He would rather stay in jail than be sent back to Kenya, as he fears violence when he returns to Kenya. He has been in the US for 13 years.

The government want to sedate him, but it is proving difficult. Previous attempts have stopped them ,as Kihuha has covered himself in his own shit,and has been known to spit and bite. The commercial airlines have declined to carry a passenger, who behaves in this way.

This guy has been segregated, and put in four different facilities, but that is still a better option for him than going home.

The government have said he is not mentally ill, and his behaviour is acceptable.

Wow, smearing oneself in your own shit is acceptable or normal?

Since when?

In which culture people?

They still want to sedate him, but some civil liberties groups say this is life threatening.

I know of people who are not given that choice in the UK, the security company usually manages to wake them up in the early hours of the morning, ie 5am, and the next day they are back in their country of origin. Here in the UK they don't mess about, and the guards show no mercy.

I have questions about his mental health.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Inequality getting under my skin in Kenya

I have just finished reading an article on poverty and mental health. The report shows the importance of the poverty gap to both individual and collective mental health. The report by Dr Lynne Friedli, Mental Health , Resilience and Inequalities Gap, reveals how the gap between rich and poor affects the mental health of individuals by causing psychological and physiological changes.

A new book the Spirit level, by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett,covers a number of issues.

  • Countries with the greatest inequalities of income came out worst: higher levels of mental illness and addiction, higher homicide levels and prison populations, lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality, poorer educational performance, lower levels of trust, higher levels of obesity, more teenage births and lower social mobility.

  • The book gives us the evidence at a macro level that is needed to take a stand against inequalities. On a micro level, inequalities permeate every part of our lives. We are aware of where we stand in the pecking order and who is in our league. However it is something we don't readily acknowledge and often feel powerless to do anything about.
  • The authors collected data from the World Bank, the World Health Organisation, the United Nations,and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development on health and social problems. They then combined this with data on income differences of 23 of the richest countries, ie the differences between the top 20% and bottom 20% of the population. The UK is amongst the most unequal, with the top 20 % having over seven times that of the bottom 20%.

Opinions of what will work differ widely, Colin Feltham, Professor of Critical Counselling Studies at Sheffield Hallam University feels that Government imposed equality would probably make life better for some, (higher taxes for the too rich) but feels that this doesn't at all get at the widespread greed.

Peter Morrall suggests that impossibilism ie the notion that nothing can be done about global suffering should be tackled.

I think about Poverty, inequality and Kenya , and feel are tasks are insurmountable,and wonder how and where we start.

I often read about some people wishing for Moi to return,and I wonder. The whole question of is it better or worse now, is something I think about. I remember reading on some blog, can't remember where now,(pole), that at least Moi left when he lost.

I just feel like it is more of the same, maybe before we knew what we were dealing with. It was blatant. Almost like you know you are going to die and how, but this time round, you are not quite sure what the death sentence is.

If there is anyone out there who has no idea what I am talking about It's our turn to eat by Michela Wrong, which is a book that is recommended on my sidebar, will fill you in on who are the people who have and have not in Kenya.

The result for me is disillusion with politicians, powerlessness and frustration.

The Economist, has an article about Jacob Zuma and voting for the people's man. South Africa a stable multi party democracy where elections are free, I felt envious that this is something that we lack in Kenya today.

We wait to see what happens to South Africa under Zuma, and whether he will follow in the footsteps of his other African brothers, where government is where you accumulate personal power,and give to your own, forgetting about the rest of the population.

I wonder whether I will go to my grave smiling knowing that the Kenyan society has been cured, or whether I will die of a broken heart?

I just don't get the sense it will happen in my lifetime, and I ain't middle aged yet.That said, I never thought I would live to see Barack Obama as the President of the United States.

So, maybe just maybe change will come to Kenya, but maybe not in my lifetime.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Migingo island this land is our land

The Mgingo island issue puzzles me the more I read about it. Geography was not one of my best subjects, however I wonder why the Ugandan government feel that they can now claim that Migingo island belongs to them.

The Ugandan Minister of State and Foreign affairs claims that the island was submerged until 2004, and had been submerged for four decades.

Is he serious?

I agree with Raila Odinga, that it is embarassing for Ugandan troops to occupy our territory, while we watch. ODM also urged to have Ugandan troops removed from the island.

As a Head of State, Kibaki should take control and protect Kenyans from the invasion by having the Ugandan soldiers out of Migingo immediately," said Prof Anyang Nyong’o the party’s secretary-general

A number of thoughts go through my mind, when I read about Migingo:

  1. What does it feel like for President Kibaki to have Kenyan land occupied, and maybe occupied for good, in broad daylight?

  2. If the island was not submerged for four decades, and there are Kenyans who were born and bred there, how do they make sense of their land suddenly being part of Uganda, if the Ugandans do not leave.

  3. I can remember reading an article about a couple in the UK who had some builders in, to do some work on their house while they were away. When they returned the builders refused to leave. What is astounding, is that the couple are still fighting for their property, and the issue is still in court. The house does not belong to the builders, but the builders seem to have some squatting rights. WTF.

Marvin Tumbo has an interesting post on land grabbing in Kenya, and how land grabbers come and stay because they are well connected.

I guess I am so accustomed to land grabbing taking place within Kenya, by Kenyans. It continues to sadden me that there are still Kenyans living in camps, homeless as a result of Post election violence.Yet, there are some Kenyans who continue to own vast amounts of land, which they grabbed.

What the Ugandans are attempting to do, is no better than the Kenyans within Kenya who have grabbed land, in my view. However I feel more uncomfortable with foreigners coming in, and occupying our territory.

I assumed that Museveni and Kibaki were friends,as Museveni was pretty upfront about his support of Kibaki during the disputed elections in 2007.

The words taste, and medicine, come to my mind when I think about Migingo, and Mwai Kibaki.

I hope the matter is resolved, as our list of problems in Kenya is endless.

Related article: Since bullets won't move Museveni to let Migingo go, deny him oxygen.

Update Related article: How Uganda seized Migingo

Update two Related articles : You do not reason with a military brat like Museveni, you draw your gun.

Kenya Diaspora in outrage against Yoweri Museveni