- Posted October 24, 2013 by
Williams Landing, Australia
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Quincy Timberlake: Who will defend Kenyans if the ICC fails us?
Retired President Mwai Kibaki presided over a government that was well-known for many gross violations of human rights which included unlawful detentions, extra judicial killings, toxic economic crimes and monumental malfeasance. His tenure was tainted with state-sanctioned killings and disappearances.
Excessive and disproportionate force by the police is a common leitmotif that has run through Kenya’s history since independence. Since that time, it has been common for the state to summarily execute people who opposed the ruling élite under the guise of them being suspected criminals or members of proscribed criminal gangs. Excessive use of force by the police resulted in much high numbers of deaths during the official opening of the Nyanza General Hospital in Kisumu in 1969, the 1991 Saba Saba riots and after the 2007/2008 general election. In the latter case, reports that the police were high on abused substances are unverified but investigations are ongoing. Of concern in recent years is a growing but insidious trend where executions are being conducted in isolated areas such as Ngong Forest, away from the prying eyes of the media and the public. In the last half of 2007, state security agents, mainly the Kenya Police, summarily executed and enforced the disappearance of large numbers of people ”suspected to be members” of the outlawed Mungiki militia group. Most young men who engaged in protests were arrested and never seen again. I was always fortunate to escape with injuries. Numerous deaths occurred all over the country in areas where the Mungiki had no presence at all. The killings and disappearances of suspected members of the Mungiki was a systematic attack against a civilian population, an act which qualifies as a crime against humanity.
Operation Okoa Maisha which was formed in 2008 included state security agents (Kenya Police and Kenya Army) who committed summary executions and enforced the disappearance of many suspected members of the Sabaot Land Defense Force (SLDF). 3 years after the operation, 300 are still missing, presumed dead at the hands of the security agents. The operation was formed to kill for the government and since then, the government has declined requests to investigate the violence on the mountain.
Whenever the state has been faced with allegations of extra-judicial killings and disappearances, it has always relied on its pre-rehearsed automatic responses which blatantly and unashamedly deny the allegations and attack the credibility or legitimacy of those making the allegations, rather than investigate those allegations. This is the main reason members of our party, the PlaCenta Party of Kenya (PPK) endured harassment, torture, death threats, degrading treatment, unlawful arrest and incarceration.
The government has always been hell-bent on deflecting public attention from our damning allegations of mass corruption and government sponsored killings . In my capacity as party leader, I had also called on the government to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. But instead, we were subjected to numerous court hearings with trumped-up, unsubstantiated charges. I have been put through various forms of torture, from spending several months in inhumane conditions within a maximum security jail, to enduring beatings and other forms of torture at unofficial places like Mazingara House. Like many others, I was forced to flee the country after an escalation of death threats. I am still living in fear even though am away.
TJRC ON HUMAN RIGHTS, UNEQUAL DISTRIBUTION OF LAND AND RESOURCES
Recently, Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta [Unlink] received a much-anticipated report from the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC). The commission, formed in August 2009, was supposed to have taken two years to complete its work. It said that, despite challenges, it had managed to collect more than 40,000 statements, more than any other truth commission in the world. The report named Uhuru and his deputy as being among those suspected of planning and financing the country’s 2007-08 post-election violence, where thousands of people died. We Kenyans were shocked and disappointed by the conclusion within the report that no action be taken against the two, as they already faced action before the ICC. The very commission which was established to bring justice and reconciliation thus restoring harmony, had failed them.
The report said that Uhuru’s father, Jomo Kenyatta , who held office from 1963 to 1978, had run a government that failed to remove the repressive state structures established by the British colonial government, and which used those laws to perpetrate human rights violations.
The government-funded report, which was years in the making also found that Kenya’s second and third presidents, Daniel Arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki, headed governments that were responsible for massacres, economic crimes and grand corruption, among other violations.
Human rights had been further violated by the retention of the one-party state by the Moi administration, resulting in severe repression of political dissent, intimidation and control of the media. The commission report also blamed the media for allowing violations to occur with little public scrutiny.
Kibaki is accused of presiding over a regime that oversaw killings. I just think he should be the prime suspect at the ICC trials for ordering the security agencies to propagate violence.
Another major reason addressed by the TJRC and a cause for public anger towards the government is historical injustices such as unequal land distribution.
Earlier in the year, Uhuru promised to address the land issue if elected. PPK discovered that between 1964 and 1966 one-sixth of European settlers’ land that had been intended for settlement of landless Kenyans had been sold cheaply to Jomo Kenyatta and Mama Ngina, his children, their relatives and close friends. Jomo Kenyatta himself appears to have benefited immensely from irregular allocations of land that should have gone to those who had lost land to Arab and British colonisers. His son, Uhuru owns 500,000 acres of land from Mombasa to the Rift Valley. Uhuru’s direct engagement in irregular land allocations compromises his position to prevent or remedy similar cases of land-grabbing by his close associates.
Before his election, Uhuru said his administration would ensure proper land policies that promote maximum useof the resource in production to spur development. “Land should be used as a resource to address food security and create jobs. Dwelling on select ownership is a way of promoting hatred which the Jubilee Coalition is against,” Uhuru is quoted as having said.
Uhuru promised that his government would address the causes and effects of past injustices which would contribute to national unity, reconciliation and healing, enabling Kenyans to move forward with a renewed sense of nationhood.
Since his election, that promise has become a fairy tale. The issue remains untouchable.
There will certainly be no move by this president to re-dress the land question in Kenya. Like on so many matters, Uhuru used that promise to win the votes of hapless Kenyans whose short memories mean that they never learn from their voting choices.
Historical grievances over land are the single most important driver of conflicts and ethnic tension in Kenya. The land issue is seconded by unfair distribution of resources.
Since 12 December 1963, a few Kenyans from one cabal have raised themselves by use of economic weapons and other policies that have resulted in the economic marginalisation of several key regions in the country. Uhuru is the wealthiest man in Kenya worth at least $500m, although he was dropped from a later list because his personal wealth was hard to separate from his family’s wealth.
President Director-General of the PlaCenta Party of Kenya