Justice be our shield and defender

“My father was shot as he stood in front of our house. The police were shooting indiscriminately, targeting anyone on sight. My father was shot in the stomach,” witness Alphonse Otieno said today by phone from Kisumu’s Kondele slum.

Proof that Kenyan GSU are using live rounds to kill demonstrators. A Kisumu demonstrator is shot dead in cold blood in Kondole, another is kicked brutally when he is down and dying. They are being hunted down as this video shows.

BBC clip here. Be warned: both clips are graphic and distressing.
Photobucket

Police club a woman suspected of being an ODM supporter

GSU Shoot, Police Club

Therein lies the problem. The Kenyan government should not be sending the GSU armed with kalashnikovs and live bullets to police the demonstrations. I do not condone police violence at all, whether by clubbing or bullets, but make the point that arming paramilitary forces leads inexorably to those arms being used against innocent civilians and with the inevitable loss of life following closely behind. Coercion of this sort does not quell violence, it nurtures it.

Note how in Kisumu yesterday Michael Barasa, a police officer said “At the moment, [demonstrators] have lit bonfires in some parts of the city but we do not want to provoke them yet.”

We do not want to provoke them yet. Non-violent actions turns violent when the other side uses violent means to suppress them. Using tear gas and bullets only ratchets up violence. Take the GSU out of the equation and the demonstrations would in all likelihood remain peaceful. The government must also lift the ban on rallies as there is no valid reason for assuming that “criminal elements” are taking advantage of them.

Joseph Karoki has posted photos of victims of police brutality on his blog. Graphic image.

Much of the worst violence has occured in Kisumu where many protestors have so far been shot dead. There are no reliable figures yet for how many have been killed to date. There are claims that 53 people have died and of those 44 have been killed by bullets. People are enraged by this; many of them did not vote for Kibaki and now he sends his guns in to shoot them dead. Frustration and anger levels are rising so it may now be too late to put the genie back in the bottle.

The police chief Grace Kaindi said she had no regrets about giving the “shoot to kill” order. Her statement to AP press is contradictory. She claimed that she feared the police would be overwhelmed by the demonstrators and then later said that all those killed were “looters and thieves.” Belying the video footage shown at the top of this post.

Photobucket

Nairobi demonstrators in a haze of tear gas

Human Rights Watch has criticised the apparent “shoot to kill” policy by demanding that Kenyan police follow the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, which state that law enforcement officers must apply non-violent methods when at all possible, leaving force as a last resort and only in proportion to the offence committed.

According to HRW even people who were not part of the demonstrations were hit by stray bullets.

Yesterday’s demonstrations in Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret remained peaceful until police started shooting tear gas and live rounds.
Eldoret demonstrations 16.01.08

Eldoret Demonstrations

This is what happened in Eldoret AFTER the GSU were sent in

The police ferried the bodies of the men they had shot to the mortuary. In the chaos, they brought some in alive, mixing them up with the dead, a priest said. Their suffering as they were left to die amid the corpses is unimaginable.

UPDATE:

Millions of Kenyans are very outraged by the brutal execution, captured by one of KTN’s courageous camera persons of a young protester in Kisumu whose capital offence appears to have been nothing more than making faces at and playing hide and seek with heavily armed goons in para-military gear… But does he have a name?

Does he have a family?

Yes, he does.

Let me resurrect him in a sense by telling you a few things about him.

His name was George Williams Omondi Onyango.

He was twenty two years old.

He was a mechanic employed by Simba Line Motors in Kisumu.

He lived in the Migosi area of that western Kenyan town.

He was also my brother-in-law. His older brother is married to my youngest sister.

Like every other television viewer in Kenya, I was gnashing my teeth and cursing the illegal and criminal assault on unarmed peaceful demonstrators all over Kenya.

I was expressing my outrage in my living room watching the news at nine pm when my cell phone rang and I saw it was my sister calling.

She was sobbing uncontrollably, asking me if I had seen the segment on the news about the young man being shot.

I replied that I had seen the piece at 4 pm, at 7 pm and now at 9.

Choking and wailing, she told me between bouts of weeping who the executed young man was.

To say I was stupefied with additional shock is probably the understatement of this week.

Photobucket

On the origins of the General Service Unit

I have been dipping into James Dianga’s book Kenya 1982 The Attempted Coup, The Consequence of a One Party Dictatorship ever since it was brought to my attention a couple of weeks ago and was intrigued to read why the GSU was formed. Kenyatta did not trust the army because the officer class was dominated by Kambas while the rearguard was made up of Kalenjins. Kenyatta was disdainful of the army because there were hardly any Kikuyu in its ranks and he believed it was made up of illiterates. For these reasons Kenyatta could not wholly rely on it so the GSU was formed alongside the Kenya Air Force. These two units consisted of carefully selected Kikuyus from Central Province and Kiambu and their function was to act as a bulwark against the Kenyan Army.

The GSU is a highly mobile, well trained (by Israel) and heavily-armed elitist paramilitary unit; it is a

political force, the regime’s coercive arm against its internal enemies’. Targeted for rapid transformation into a virtually all-Kikuyu hit squad, with its base at Gatundu, close to the President’s estate, there could be little doubt about the function of the G.S.U.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Advertisements

0 Responses to “Justice be our shield and defender”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s





%d bloggers like this: