Posts Tagged 'Crimes Against Humanity'

Opposition Officials Helped Plan Rift Valley Violence

Human Rights Watch report on the (sotto voce) ethnic cleansing that has been taking place in Kenya. This report has some new information about how the violence against Kikuyus, Kisii and Luya was incited by elders and opposition Party officials after the election results were announced but it does not address the campaign to marginalise Kikuyu by certain ODM leaders. It is however a positive sign that these crimes against humanity can not and will not be swept under the carpet.

Opposition leaders are right to challenge Kenya’s rigged presidential poll, but they can’t use it as an excuse for targeting ethnic groups.

Georgette Gagnon, acting Africa director at Human Rights Watch

Opposition Officials Helped Plan Rift Valley Violence

Police Should Protect Displaced Persons Camps

(Eldoret, January 24, 2008) – Human Rights Watch investigations indicate that, after Kenya’s disputed elections, opposition party officials and local elders planned and organized ethnic-based violence in the Rift Valley, Human Rights Watch said today. The attacks, targeting mostly Kikuyu and Kisii people in and around the town of Eldoret, could continue unless the government and opposition act to stop the violence, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch called on the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leadership to take immediate steps to stop its supporters from committing further attacks. At the same time, Human Rights Watch said the Kenyan police should urgently deploy extra officers to the region to protect displaced people and resident Kikuyu communities.

“Opposition leaders are right to challenge Kenya’s rigged presidential poll, but they can’t use it as an excuse for targeting ethnic groups,” said Georgette Gagnon, acting Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “We have evidence that ODM politicians and local leaders actively fomented some post-election violence, and the authorities should investigate and make sure it stops now.”

Research by Human Rights Watch in and around the town of Eldoret, which has borne the brunt of the Rift Valley violence, indicates that attacks by several ethnic communities against others, especially local Kikuyu populations, were planned soon after the elections. In some cases, local elders and opposition politicians appear to have incited and organized the violence. Since December 27, 2007, clashes between members of the Kalenjin and Luya communities and their Kikuyu and Kisii neighbors in the Rift Valley have left more than 400 people dead and have displaced thousands more.

Human Rights Watch interviewed members of several pro-ODM Kalenjin communities who described the ways in which local leaders and ODM party agents actively fomented violence against Kikuyu communities. A Kalenjin preacher in a village in Eldoret North constituency told Human Rights Watch that on the morning of December 29, 2007, a local ODM party mobilizer “called a meeting and said that war had broken in Eldoret town, so the elders organized the youth into groups of not less than 15, and they went to loot [Kikuyu] homes and burn them down.”

The following day, the village held another meeting and the youth marched to the nearby town of Turbo. They were turned away by police. But they returned early the next morning, catching the police off guard, “and burnt almost half of the Kikuyu shops in town, including the petrol station,” according to the preacher. Human Rights Watch visited Turbo and found that most Kikuyu-owned buildings had been laid to ruin by the attackers. Displaced Kikuyu seeking shelter at the police station in Turbo confirmed to Human Rights Watch that their homes and businesses were destroyed by groups of Kalenjin youth.

Human Rights Watch spoke to numerous members of Kalenjin commmunities around Eldoret who provided similar accounts. In many communities, local leaders and ODM mobilizers arranged frequent meetings following the election to organize, direct and facilitate the violence unleashed by gangs of local youth. In one case, an ODM councillor candidate is said to have provided a lorry to ferry youth to burn the homes of Kikuyu families in a neighboring community.

Many Kalenjin community leaders told Human Rights Watch that if the area’s ODM leadership or the local Kalenjin radio station KASS FM told people unequivically to stop attacks on Kikuyu homes, then they believe the violence would stop. “If the leaders say stop, it will stop immediately,” said one Kalenjin elder.

Human Rights Watch also collected accounts from several Kalenjin men present at community meetings where local elders and ODM mobilizers urged Kalenjin residents to contribute money toward the purchase of automatic weapons. Some communities have reportedly managed to obtain such weapons already. The same sources confirmed that plans have already been made to attack camps of displaced Kikuyu and the two remaining neighborhoods in Eldoret town where many Kikuyu homes remain intact – Langas and Munyaka.

The Kenyan police are already investigating responsibility for the violence in the Rift Valley, but its forces are overstretched by the nationwide electoral crisis. In the light of apparent plans by some groups to attack camps for internally displaced persons, Human Rights Watch called on the Kenyan police to ensure that all locations of displaced people are adequately protected against attack. Fourteen displaced Kikuyu and Kisii people sheltering in a monastery in Kipkelion were killed last week in an attack by Kalenjin warriors. The sprawling tent camp in Eldoret is now home to more than 10,000 displaced persons, with only a light police presence to protect them. Any attack on the camp would likely prove disastrous. Other equally vulnerable camps have been set up in other areas.

“The murder of people sheltering at a monastery in Kipkelion illustrates the need for better police protection of displaced people,” said Gagnon. “Protecting the thousands of vulnerable people chased from their homes across the Rift Valley from further attack should be a priority for the Kenyan police.”

more…

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“Massacre” in Kibera – Medecins san Frontieres

“We have seen violence over the last two weeks but today it has really exploded. Young guys — 13 years — have died, young women, young men, this is unbelievable … this is like a massacre.”


Police Spokesman says police are using live bullets because of a shortage of rubber ones!

Fri Jan 18, 2008 11:25pm IST

By Nick Tattersall and Barry Moody
Photobucket

Kibera – running for cover

NAIROBI (Reuters) – At least 13 people were killed in Kenya on Friday when police opened fire in a Nairobi slum and ethnic groups clashed during protests against the disputed re-election of President Mwai Kibaki.

The worst bloodshed was in the huge Kibera slum, an opposition stronghold, where at least seven people were killed and a dozen wounded by police automatic gunfire. The French medical charity MSF called it a “massacre”.

Police also opened fire and lobbed tear gas in the port of Mombasa, where one person was killed in protests after Friday Muslim prayers, and the southern town of Narok.

Friday’s deaths were the worst toll from three days of protests called by opposition leader Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) against Kibaki’s re-election.

At least 21 people have been killed in the demonstrations, which were due to end on Friday. About 650 people have been killed since the disputed Dec. 27 election.

The opposition and human rights groups accuse the police of using excessive force and firing indiscriminately at unarmed protesters. Police say they only shoot at rioters and looters.

Reuters journalists counted seven bodies from the Kibera shooting, including a man with the back of his head blown off and 15-year-old girl, Rosina Otieno. Both were carried to the nearby Masaba hospital morgue in a white pickup truck.

Otieno’s aunt, Martha Mtishi, told Reuters: “If they can kill a little girl let them kill us all.”
Kibera 18.01.08

At least 11 wounded people were brought to the hospital. “We need more doctors because … we cannot handle an emergency of this magnitude,” hospital administrator Joe Momanyi said.

Outside the hospital a crowd shouted: “Murderers and killers.”

A Reuters reporter saw police shooting protesters in Kibera. One man in a red baseball cap and black T-shirt dropped to the ground, blood gushing from his knee.

Protesters built a burning barricade in the slum, and boys hiding in shacks and firing stones from slingshots played a cat-and-mouse game with police.

“They were trying to uproot railway lines. The police came to stop them and started shooting. They started howling and running away,” said James Muga, an unemployed 45-year-old as repeated bursts of automatic gunfire rang out.

VIOLENCE SPREADS

In southwest Kenya, officials said five people were killed on Friday in clashes between Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe and Maasai anti-government protesters in Narok town, gateway to the Maasai Mara game reserve.

They were killed with arrows and machetes.

Maasai and Kikuyu had been fighting in the area since Thursday with homes and shops burned and at least 23 wounded, the police said. Riot police had to be sent in to clear barricades erected by Maasais, a Reuters journalist said.

The opposition said police fatally shot two protesters in Mombasa, Kenya’s Indian Ocean port. Officials could confirm only one death there.

In Kibera, MSF official Ian Van Engelgem told Reuters: “We have seen violence over the last two weeks but today it has really exploded. Young guys — 13 years — have died, young women, young men, this is unbelievable … this is like a massacre.”

Odinga visited Masaba hospital and told reporters: “You have seen what we have seen, a shocking thing … this government is determined to finish anyone who is opposed to what they have done.”

Kenya’s swift slide into crisis has dented its democratic credentials, horrified world powers, scared off tourists and hurt one of Africa’s most promising economies.

A statement by envoys from nine countries including Britain, the Netherlands and Australia, urged Kibaki and Odinga to meet for direct talks without delay or preconditions, and called on Kenya’s security forces to show restraint.

“We have seen clear and disturbing footage of the use of lethal force on unarmed demonstrators,” it said.

ODM said earlier it would call off street protests after Friday and switch its campaign to small strikes and boycotts of companies run by Kibaki allies.

(Additional reporting by Bryson Hull, Nick Tattersall, Bosire Nyairo, Joseph Sudah, George Obulutsa)

Rosina Otieno

Bodies lie in slum after Kenya police shootings
Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:30pm EST
By Nick Tattersall

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Rosina Otieno, 15, was watching television with her family when police fired on anti-government protesters outside her house in Nairobi’s vast Kibera slum.

She opened the door to see what was happening and immediately fell back into the small room with a bullet in her stomach, her father Thomas told Reuters.

“The gun was aimed at her, it was not a bullet that just came and hit her,” Otieno told Reuters as his daughter’s body was driven to nearby Masaba hospital in a white pick-up truck.

“The policeman turned at her and directed the gun.”Rosina shared the journey with a neighbor, his skull shattered by another bullet.For three days security forces around Kenya have blocked banned demonstrations against President Mwai Kibaki’s re-election at a December 27 poll the opposition says was rigged.

Authorities say demonstrations would lead to looting and more violence.At least seven people were killed on Friday in Kibera, where corpses lay in the muddy alleys of the sprawling shanty-town.Human rights groups and the opposition accuse police of firing indiscriminately at unarmed protesters. The authorities say they only shoot looters and rioters.

Youths armed with stones and slingshots hid among the tin-roofed shacks of Kibera, playing a deadly game of cat and mouse with scores of heavily armed officers.

Some tried to uproot a railway line running through the slum, but scattered when police started shooting.Bursts of automatic gunfire triggered women’s screams and residents tried to scamper to safety.

One man in a red baseball cap and black T-shirt fell to the ground, blood gushing from his knee.Charles Omuse, 27, said he and his neighbors were forced out of their homes after officers fired tear gas.

“We heard some bullets and we tried to come out of our house because of the tear gas, but they shot,” he said as he arrived at the Masaba Hospital with three wounded people.Doctors said they were overwhelmed and running out of saline solution, antibiotic drips and bandages.

“The number of doctors we have cannot handle an emergency of this magnitude,” said one hospital administrator called Joe.Outside, a crowd chanted “Murderers. Killers.” Amid the chaos, Kibaki’s rival Raila Odinga arrived at the hospital.

“These are school-going children, shot in front of their houses,” he said. “This is genocide in the making and this is what the government is doing all over the country.”Rosina’s aunt said she was also ready to die.

“Let Kibaki kill us in Kibera. If he told police to come and kill us in Kibera, let them do so,” Martha Mtishi told Reuters. “We are ready for anything now. If they can kill a little girl let them kill us all.”

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