Brutal cop assaults lady rights activist

Human rights activist, Philo Ikonya, has accused a senior police officer of brutalizing her when she and and others were arrested outside Parliament last Wednesday.

Philo Ikonya

Philo Ikonya

Writing in the website, Kenya Imagine, Philo describes the ordeal that resulted in her clothes being torn to shreds. She was beaten and subjected to verbal assault by a force whose motto is, Utumishi kwa Wote” (Service to All).

However, as she soon discovered, her tribulations were nothing compared to what the majority of struggling Kenyans are experiencing everyday. Read on:

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For some reason, I was released on Wednesday night on a bond signed by Florence Jaoko of the Kenya National Human Rights Commission. Activists Ann Njogu, Wangui Mbatia and others told her to act because I needed medical attention.

It is dark in Kenya… very dark… our freedoms are not ours anymore and all Kenyans are suffering. I do not want a seat in a bunge (Parliament) like that, never. But in the darkness the voice of a man in the cells cried out …

“Madam, they are trying to break your voice.. but it is powerful and unbreakable.. that is your spirit. I saw it here in the cells … we were wondering who will speak since we lost voices to politics…. I will never be the same again … just watching how you deal with things here…”

I refused to leave my fellow activists in the cells but once a bond is signed one cannot stay inside as it is illegal.

Needless to say, I feel much compassion for Fwamba and Kamotho who were also beaten up especially Fwamba. Tears flood my eyes when I remember how a merciless cop would hit him in the ribs every time he spoke up after I was boxed under the chin. He spoke gently but the cop yelled at us.

The cop had said he knew me and that I should have kept quiet not to be arrested. I had told him I did not know him and could not abandon Fwamba. Thank God Dipesh had mobilized the Press during our arrest but now here we were in the car being told there was no camera, and we would see …

In those hours at Central Police – we were transported at about 6:50pm – I managed to alert Mwalimu Mati whom I saw through the grills of the back of a van. The police hit the car on all sides so that he could not hear me.

Every few minutes they called us (over 50 men and 5 women) out of their cells for a roll call. The Officer In-charge asks what are our problems and we come forward fearfully and mutter something.

“I need to see a doctor, my chest hurts.”

“Rudi ndani….. utamwona.”

Another: “I need to go home, I am now here in the cells for three days, my eight-month old baby is in hospital admitted and I have nobody to help me take care of him.”

I need… I need and I need…..But really all the officer is doing is intimidating fear.

For many others, including the woman with the sick baby, the 24 hours in which they are supposed to be held in police custody before they are produced in court, long expired. But they are still here. And there is crawling lice, the toilet for women is a little hole as the so called ‘proper toilet’ is inside the gate of the men’s cells. The place stinks.

Every time we are called for roll call, I remind the police officer that I have no clothes on my back, since his boss, the Deputy OCPD tore them up on the street. I complain bitterly about having a bare back and being in the same room for the roll call with men arrested for different purposes… one of them told me he was definitely going to be hanged for robbery with violence. But the officer in charge …every time says, “You will get them Madam,” and finishes his roll call and throws us back in there as if we had not said anything.

The policeman who beat us up this afternoon in town and in the car hit us where no obvious bruises can come up, like under the chin. I remember asking him if he was going to break my jaw. He is the Deputy OCPD at Nairobi Central Police and when Fwamba and I get to the police station and activists flock in, they tell me that it is the same man who molested Ann Njogu on the streets as he arrested her.

I am horrified for indeed each time he hit me I told him to look into my eyes and see God and his eyes looked opaque and distant… he hit me again saying he would take us where we could never talk again. I suppose he meant the grave. But I continued to tell him, ‘ My father had never hit me, nor any man on the streets nor any male in my life… no one… and that he was oppressing me in the car.

At the Inter Continental Roundabout I had yelled to motorists saying, ” they are killing us…” and he hit us more turning the front seat of his vehicle low and leaning back and shouting at the cop on our back seat for letting us talk … No one heard us in this torture chamber. The journey between Parliament and Nairobi Police Station down City Hall Way, past Kimathi’s statue and through Moi Avenue was just blows and our voices since we are convinced that being threatened with being silenced is the last thing that will cow us.

Read more of Philo Ikonya’s story on Kenya Imagine.

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