No mercy for rights abusers

As ordinary soldiers and police are arrested for crimes committed 30 years ago, it is becoming clear that there will be no mercy for abusers of human rights. This has clear implications for Kenya’s security forces who are blamed for the disappearances of thousands of people since 2006.

Former police driver, Bernard Kiriinya, seen here in this video grab from a testimony he made to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

Former police driver, Bernard Kiriinya, seen here in this video grab from a testimony he made to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

According to the BBC, a judge in Chile has issued arrest warrants for 129 people for allegedly helping to purge critics of former ruler General Augusto Pinochet. They are accused of taking part in killings and disappearances of dozens of leftists and opposition activists mostly in the 1970s.

The suspects – the largest group so far to face arrest warrants – all worked for the secret police agency, Dina. Many of those named in the arrest warrants are former low-ranking officers who were previously excluded from prosecution for Gen Pinochet’s human rights abuses.

Thousands of activists were killed or disappeared during the 1973-1990 rule of Gen Pinochet, who died in 2006 while awaiting trial.

The arrest warrants cited various Dina operations to track down Pinochet’s opponents, such as Operation Condor – a long-running campaign launched in the mid-1970s to hunt down and kill left-wingers. Condor was a continent-wide operation, also backed by the rulers of Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay.

These are good news for human rights activists in Kenya, who have for long condemned Kenya Police and security forces tactics of abducting people, torturing, then making them ‘disappear.’ It just proves that, someday, the perpetrators of human rights abuses will have to account for their deeds.

There is ample evidence linking the Kenyan government to human rights abuses. United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston released a report early this year accusing the police of human rights violations, including killing people without following due process. The Kenyan National Human Rights Commission,  itself a State body, has implicated police officers and their commanders in heinous crimes against humanity.

By far the worst evidence comes from a former police officer who confessed to participating in what can only be described as an orgy of butchering human beings.

Bernard Kiriinya, a former driver in a police death squad, told the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights that police officers abducted people from homes, roadsides and restaurants. The victims were taken to isolated locations where they were shot dead and the bodies chopped into pieces.

The bodies of the victims were deliberately disfigured with rungus and pangas to conceal their identity. This explains why hundreds of people are listed as missing even though their bodies may be lying in mortuaries across the country.

To what extent was the police command involved? Kiriinya said that Police Commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali and senior commanders were fully briefed on the activities of police death squads. Officers who were involved in killings regularly received cash payments ranging from Kshs 2,000 (US$25) to Kshs15,000 ($187) for each successful “assignment.”

Police officers outside of the death squads were not spared either. At one time, a Constable hiked a lift in a police Land Rover that was ferrying four Mungiki suspects to Murang’a. On arrival, the four suspects were ordered to get out and lie on their bellies where afterwards they were shot. The innocent constable was also killed in order to conceal the executions.

Unfortunately, Bernard Kiriinya is no longer available to produce further evidence. He was shot and killed in Nairobi soon after his testimony. The gunmen have never been caught. However, the tapes he left behind prove that truth will always defeat evil. Read more of his testimony by clicking here.

The events in Chile, coupled with an increasingly assertive International Criminal Court, means that violations of human rights can never be forgotten. It may take ten years, perhaps twenty years, or maybe even thirty years, but justice will sooner or later catch up with the guilty parties.

Showing his true colors: A despot speaks

by Scott A Morgan

Although not widely seen on the internet, a Swedish TV Channel had an interview that was both interesting and revealing. The Network TV4 had a show featuring Eritrean President Isayas Afewerki and some of the statements were stunning.

Eritrean family crossing a street in Asmara. This is perhaps the only country in Africa where people cross the streets at the right place!

Eritrean family crossing a street in Asmara. This is perhaps the only country in Africa where people cross the streets at the right place!

Eritrea’s relations with the rest of the world can best be described as tenous. It fought a war of liberation with Ethiopia. After gaining its independence in 1993, a line of demarcation was drawn that left neither party satisfied. To this date, tensions are still simmering along that border. Relations with Djibouti are also strained as Eritrean troops have occupied a small area of that country.

Another area of contention is the status of press freedom in Eritrea. Since private media was banned in 2001, several journalists were thrown into secret prisons without being charged or tried. There have been high profile cases of journalists such as the late Fesshay Yohannes who died in Custody. In 2004 President Afewerki stated that he did not know Mr. Yohannes.

When pressed for information about the status of Dawit Issac, an Eritrean journalist with Swedish citizenship, the President said that he didn’t know what crime was committed. He also said that “he did something bad.” In the lexicon of Eritrean politics that can be seen as saying anything that goes against President Afewerki.

Another statement President Afewerki made was interesting. Afewerki claimed that there were no actual private media outlets in Eritrea and that those media outlets were financed by the CIA. This is not the first time that President Afewerki has claimed that the US Government is working to undermine his government.

More often than not, this claim has centered around Somalia. It seems that every so often, the UN or the US claims to have evidence that Eritrea has been supporting the insurgency in Somalia. The UN often rescinds the claim but rarely will the US do so.

It seems that whenever any leader has issues with human rights or democracy in general, they blame the United States. That always seems to be the rule for hiding whatever abuses are being committed. Blaming the US leads to resentment of the US for intervening in internal affairs.

Another area of concern that the US has with Eritrea is over freedom of religion. Relations with Iran will also place Eritrea on the radar in Washington as well.

There is a saying that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Having people put in prison because they did not write anything about you is a sign of absolute power. As a hero who liberated a country, one would not have thought Afewerki could use such tactics while in power. Sadly, on achieving power, despotism reigns once again.

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The Author publishes Confused Eagle on the internet and comments on US policy towards Africa. It can be found at morganrights.tripod.com

Picture by Eric Lafforgue
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The dark side of Dubai

A video tape smuggled out of the United Arab Emirates shows a member of the country’s royal family mercilessly torturing a man with whips, electric cattle prods and wooden planks with protruding nails.

A man in a UAE police uniform is seen on the tape tying the victim’s arms and legs, and later holding him down as Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al-Nahyan pours salt on the man’s wounds and then drives over him with his Mercedes SUV.

In a statement to ABC News, the UAE Ministry of the Interior said it had reviewed the tape and acknowledged the involvement of Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al Nahyan, brother of the country’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed.

WARNING: The images you are about to see may be disturbing.

Click here to watch more graphic footage of Sheikh Issa bin Zayed’s grim hobby.

Read the BBC report.

Kenyan rights activist found dead

A Kenyan human rights activist has been found dead outside his house in the capital city, Nairobi.

The late Bantu Mwaura. Picture by the University of KwaZulu Natal.

The late Bantu Mwaura. Picture by the University of KwaZulu Natal.

According to the Standard newspaper, Bantu Mwaura’s body was found outside his gate at Sunlight estate in Nairobi’s Lang’ata area, on Monday morning. He had been missing since last Friday.

It is still not clear how he died but there are several theories doing the rounds in Nairobi. Speculation ranges from assassination by a government hit squad to suicide. Police are already investigating the death.

The news comes amidst revelations that the dreaded KweKwe squad has been renamed as “Eagle” squad. The mission of Eagle Squad is to kill anyone it suspects of having links to Mungiki.

Bantu was among human rights activists who urged the international community not to recognize the controversial re-election of President Mwai Kibaki following the bungled elections of December 2007.

Bantu was a university lecturer, human rights activist, poet, writer, art critic, performing artist, director, playwright and storyteller. He undertook his PhD in Performance Studies at the New York University and also has a Masters degree in Theatre Studies from Leeds University (UK) and another Masters in African-American and African Studies from the Ohio State University (USA).

His research has largely focused on examining how performance theory interfaces with theatre practice in Africa, how culture impacts and has been impacted upon by real politics, and on the politics of performance space.

Gruesome confessions of police killings by death squad driver

Testimony by a former member of a Kenya Police death squad reveals the extent to which senior police officers ordered the killings of thousands of people.

Former police driver, Bernard Kiriinya, seen here in this video grab from a testimony he made to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

Former police driver, Bernard Kiriinya, seen here in this video grab from a testimony he made to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

Bernard Kiriinya told the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights of police officers abducting people from homes, roadsides and restaurants. The victims were taken to isolated locations where they were shot dead and the bodies chopped to pieces.

The bodies of the victims were deliberately disfigured with rungus and pangas to conceal their identity. This explains why hundreds of people are listed as missing even though their bodies may be lying in mortuaries across the country.

For those Kenyans who support police death squads on grounds of eliminating Mungiki, Kiriinya revealed in his taped testimony that police officers killed people in order to steal money and property.

A Corporal Njoroge took a new Subaru Outback owned by a man he abducted and killed in Kiambu. The same Corporal Njoroge took two vehicles from a Kariobangi based businessman known as, “Mashukaru” after abducting and torturing him to death. Mashukaru had his eyes removed during torture at Matuu, where he had been taken. After he was killed, the body was dumped in a dam. Njoroge returned to Nairobi and gave the two vehicles to senior policemen as gifts.

Virginia Nyakio, wife to jailed Mungiki leader Maina Njenga, was abducted and killed because of Kshs5 million (US$62,500) in her possession. Her body and that of her driver were extensively mutilated by police officers to make it appear as the work of a rival Mungiki faction. This was the line of investigation that police sold to the public back in April 2008.

Unfortunately, Bernard Kiriinya is no longer available to produce further evidence. He was shot and killed in Nairobi soon after his testimony. The gunmen have never been caught. However, the tapes he left behind prove that truth will always defeat evil. Whatever is done in the dark will someday come to light regardless of how long it takes.

To what extent was the police command involved? Kiriinya said that Police Commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali and senior commanders were fully briefed on the activities of police death squads. Officers who were involved in killings regularly received cash payments ranging from Kshs 2,000 (US$25) to Kshs15,000 ($187) for each successful “assignment.”

During the torture of suspected Mungiki leader Kimani Ruo at Ngong Forest, police officers called their bosses and replayed tapes of his confessions. On hearing the tapes, Provincial Police Officer Njagi Njue ordered over the telephone that, “kazi iendelee,” meaning the work should continue. Police Commissioner Ali ordered that Kimani Ruo be killed with instructions that the body should never be discovered. Indeed, Kimani Ruo’s family never knew what happened to him, until Kiriinya’s tape was made public in February.

The Police Commissioner recommended for promotion several police officers who excelled in death squad operations. A Mr Maina was promoted overnight from a Corporal to Inspector of Police. His colleague was promoted from Constable to Corporal under similar circumstances. There are many such promotions that continue to take place within the Kenya Police force.

Police commanders encouraged financial fraud in order to reward death squad operatives. Senior officers in the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) ordered junior officers to make false overtime claims in order to get paid for their secret activities. The officers complied and went home with Shs10,000 each ($125).

Such tactics are deliberately designed to frustrate future investigations as records will only show payments for overtime. It also makes it easier for police to request extra funds from the Ministry of Finance on grounds that officers are putting in “extra hours.”

Police officers outside of the death squads were not spared either. At one time, a Constable hiked a lift in a police Land Rover that was ferrying four Mungiki suspects to Murang’a. On arrival, the four suspects were ordered to get out and lie on their bellies where afterwards they were shot. The innocent constable was also killed in order to conceal the executions.

Most Kenyans do not appreciate the extent of rot within the police force. It is common to hear individuals arguing that the deaths of a few innocent people is a worthy price to pay in the war against crime and Mungiki. But who decides between innocence and guilt? Isn’t that what the courts are for?

Giving individual police officers the power to decide between guilt and innocence is a disaster in the making. Kiriinya’s testimony reveals that the officers involved in death squad operations are driven by the desire for wealth and glory. Police officers get overnight promotions for torturing and killing people. Others do it in order to steal money, vehicles and other property.

Surely, this is a lawless society. Unless death squads are stopped and the guilty officers brought to book, the future of Kenya is in doubt. And for this, President Mwai Kibaki must accept responsibility.

The Nairobi Chronicle recommends that every Kenyan read for themselves the signed confession by Bernard Kiriinya. Its only 16 pages long and just 1.4 MB in size. Click here to download the PDF document from Mars Group.
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Police blamed for Oscar killing

By Casper Waithaka (Daily Nation)

Slain human rights activist Oscar Kamau King’ara was buried on Saturday in a sombre ceremony at his father’s farm in Muchatha, Kiambu District.

The late Oscar Kamau Kingara

The late Oscar Kamau Kingara

Family and friends eulogised King’ara as a man who always set out to do what he wanted. Kepta Ombati – who was speaking on behalf of the civil society – accused the police of killing King’ara and trying to cover it up.

His widow Nancy said: “I am very proud of my husband. Twenty years from now, when my children ask me who their father was, I will confidently tell them he was a man who did what he believed in.”

More on this story from the Daily Nation >>

Killed for plotting radical change

Murdered human rights activist, Oscar Kamau King’ara, was mobilizing Kenyans to massively vote against the country’s cruel and corrupt rulers in the 2012 General Elections.

human_rights_quotes

The Liberators Movement was seen by certain powerful personalities as a threat to their political ambitions in the 2012 General Elections. These personalities were scared enough to organize the termination of Oscar before his initiative took off.

The Liberator movement has an elaborate membership plan: “We are organized into cells of 20 people from grassroots to national membership. And as a member you are required to form your cell, inform others why change is needed, share with them initiatives undertaken by Liberators family and call up for training and recruitment,” reads part of the information on the Oscar Foundation website.

In Kenya, such talk will provoke an immediate and brutal response from the ruling elite.

Oscar printed huge posters of President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Environment Minister John Michuki describing them as examples of tyranny in Kenya. Raila is shown with duct tape covering his mouth, implying a policy of silence.

Oscar wrote that the “Liberator” is a movement of people whose mission is to redeem Kenya from the captivity of political leaders. It is meant to unite all Kenyans who are tired, unhappy and feel suppressed by the actions, nature and structure of the current crop of political leaders.

Here’s a sample of quotes from Liberator Movement documents:

Our vision is to create a Kenya in which all citizens belong in words and in life. A country of prosperity, justice, good governance and peace for all.

As liberators we share a lot in common; We pay heavy tax to finance the lavish life of our Members of parliament, Ministers, Prime Minister and the President of Kenya; We toil everyday but never have the good returns for our hard labour; We thirst and hunger and even die, when our leaders thrive and make profits in our suffering; We have seen the corrupt going unpunished and public properties being looted. We are assumed to be weak helpless and easy to forget. We appear to be easily divisible in tribes and region. That is what our leaders have been thinking of us all along.

But now we are rising as Liberator, to show them that we can free ourselves and that what they have known or thought us to be is not and will not be what we are or can be. We are waking up in readiness to let them know that though we may look weak and vulnerable, never in this initiative can we fail to achieve the change of our choice and expand the space and value of our democracy.

We have come to this point and we are not going to wait any more. By our numbers, we will find strength and by our united commitment we will coin victory and win against our political leaders who have turned the masses into goods of trade.

The Liberators’ guiding principles are love for the nation; sacrifice and commitment towards its reclamation; information sharing about the happenings in our country; and adoption of non-violence as a tool of struggle towards liberation of our nation. Our brief is very simple, to give you information, so that you can know your rights, know when it is being infringed upon; know whoever is responsible; and then show him or her that you will not take it any longer.

We are determined to stand up to be counted, we pledge not to let Kenya drown or go to the dogs – the dogs will simply eat it! As our leaders continue to conspire against us; forming themselves into a fellowship of thieves; thriving in impunity with less care and concern to the rest of us, let them know that we swear never to take it any more. We intend to employ all tools and tactics available within our reach to ensure that good governance in Kenya is not made a mere token or an act of goodwill by our leaders but an inherent foundation of democracy, governance and political representation furnished and powered by the will of the people.

You and I, in this country; must stand up and be the light of our villages however remote or near. We must be the hope for our oppressed generation; the inspiration for the young ones to come; the tower and the source of alternative leadership by the people and for the people. We must stand and give compass and direction when the Government and leadership cheats the masses. We are the repository of knowledge and so we must inform the moment; we are determined to send home all thieves, liars and looters who reside in the parliament; we demand our country back.

We want 2012 to be a lesson to them; to send them all packing. It is happening in the rest of the world; America, Ghana are just but a few countries which have shown in the recent past that power belongs not to the leaders but in the hands of the people. And if our leaders can not see the written signs and heed to our demand now, we promise a peaceful liberation of this country by making it ungovernable for them. We will fight them with the power of our numbers through civil disobedience, mass processions and public defiance. But key to all we are not willing to make them thrive in our silence.

We are organized into cells of 20 people from grassroots to national membership. As a member, you are required to form your cell, inform others why change is needed, share with them initiatives undertaken by the Liberators family and call up for training and recruitment.

Our ideology is patriotism and the strength of numbers backed by conviction that we hold it as a duty to defend and determine the kind of the country we wish to live in.

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