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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Kisumu Riots Executions:Constable Kirui Just a Sacrificial Lamb

The gang-land style execution of two demonstrators by a police constable captured by a KTN cameraman was just a tip of senseless mass killings carried out by state agents but go unreported and unpunished in Kenya.

Had the cameraman not been keen to his profession or taken the bold move of capturing execution on camera and had KTN not stood their ground, the cold-blooded actions by constable Kirui would have been swept under the carpet just like many other executions carried out by the trigger-happy police in the past.

Any right-thinking human being could not find any justification in the macabre shooting of Mr George William Onyango and Mr Ishmael Chacha in a Kisumu neighbourhood on January 16. The two unarmed demonstrators were kicked as they lay on the ground pleading with Contable Kirui to spare their lives.

Kenyans watched the KTN news clip in horror. The KTN clip was also screened by international news outlets and hundreds of websites around the world. The crime committed by the constable was totally unjustifiable.

But what came out of the mouths of Kenya’s police chiefs’ was even more horrifying. In his characteristic norm, Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe hurriedly called a Press Conference under the instructions of his boss, Commissioner Major general Mohamed Hussein Ali, and dismissed the KTN footage as computer generated images manipulated and equated it to a Rambo Movie. The two police chiefs shamelessly justified the shootings to the utter shock of Kenyans.

In living up to its credibility, KTN stood its ground with the backing of local and international human rights groups and international media outlets. But Kibaki friendly media houses – Nation Media Group, the Royal Media (which owns Citizen TV and Radio), KBC, Regional Outreach Ltd (owners of Kameme FM and jua kali-type K24 TV station) – gave the Kisumu shooting and those of many other innocent Kenyans a total blackout.

The media houses listed above are either owned or under the leadership of Kikuyu managers and editors. There is no doubt these media houses were co-opted by the illegitimate Kibaki regime into a cover up conspiracy when the Presidential vote was being stolen and in the post-election violence when over 5,000 have been killed and they continue reporting only 800 deaths!

Maj Gen Ali and Mr Kiraithe finally gave in due to the expose by KTN and sustained international pressure and instituted an inquiry into the Kisumu shooting. A team of detectives has returned the verdict – Constable Kirui executed the two men in cold blood and he should face murder charges.

They arrived at the conclusion after reviewing the KTN footage (Kiraithe’s Rambo Movie!), a ballistic examination of the officer’s rifle and getting witnesses’ accounts.

It was an insult for those who respect human rights and human life to see Mr Kiraithe convening another Press conference yesterday to declare Constable Kirui had committed a crime and he would be tried for murder. There was no mention of the Rambo Movie and no apology was offered by this cunning officer.

This is the pretence we can do without. Maj Gen Ali and his side-kick Kiraithe are masters of public deception. The two make fools of themselves when they hurriedly shoot their mouths based on false information and before any investigations are carried out only to be proved wrong later.

Based on the earlier comments made by Mr Kiraithe, Kenyans should closely follow the murder trial in court. I’m willing to bet a fortune with anyone who is convinced Kirui will be found guilty of the senseless crime he and his fellow officers committed under the guise of protecting the stolen presidency.

Remember the October 2005 fatal shootings of three primary school kids and an innocent milk vendor? Maj Gen Ali hurriedly called a Press conference claiming police had shot dead four men who were part of a group that tried to raid Kondele police station to steal guns during a protest sparked off by the referendum on the proposed new constitution. In fact, the commissioner said he had no apologies to make termed those killed as “hooligans”.

Two days later, Maj Gen Ali’s lies were exposed when it turned out that those killed were young primary school kids and a milk vendor who were nowhere near the police station. Just like in the Kirui shooting, Maj Gen Ali “ordered” the arrest of the two officers involved in the shooting in an attempt to ease public pressure on him to resign and to cover international shame of his reckless statement. The two officers were quietly released later on when the heat cooled down.

When the Mungiki went on an murderous spree in parts of the Rift Valley, Central and Nairobi last year, Maj Gen Ali formed a special unit to hunt down the rag tag gangs. Between July and October, the special police unit rounded up thousands of jobless youth and anyone they suspected to be involved in the illegal sect. It did not matter if you were linked to the gang or not. If your face did not please the officers, you ended up on their death chamber vehicles and what happened afterwards is a horrific story that none of the media houses dared expose.

Most of those who were arrested disappeared without trace. They were not taken to any police station or court of law to be tried. They few who were lucky ended up in mortuaries (and at least their relatives had something to bury) but thousands of others were killed and their bodies turned into food for wild beasts and crocodiles in Tana River. It is estimated that well over 4,000 youths were executed by the police during that period under the guise of fighting Mungiki.

And when police cover was blown off after some of the bodies that were left in forests were found (in fact, the wild beasts had so much flesh on their hands and they could not finish), furious Maj Gen Ali called a Press conference challenging anyone to prove that police were the killers. But blood was all over his hands, clothes and on his face.

Although he denied police involvement in the mass killings, he was unable to explain why police failed to open up any investigations into the killings. Police only collected the “discovered” bodies from the forests and ferried them to the mortuaries. That was all. Maj Gen Ali would have ordered an investigations against himself had he opened investigations into the mass killings!

Kenyan police – especially commissioner Maj Gen Ali – should not be allowed to get away with Crimes Against Humanity. Those who have blood on their fingers must face justice no matter how long it takes.

If Maj Gen Ali wants to convince Kenyans and the world that the Kenya Police has seen the light, he should do should the honourable thing by resigning for ordering his officers to engage in mass killings under the guise of fighting crime. Mr Kiraithe should also throw in the towel.

And the Kibaki regime, if it wants to be seen to have any slight respect for human life, should order an in-depth audit of the Kenya Police by forming an independent commission to probe incidents of gross human rights abuse since Maj Gen Ali became commissioner. All officers found to have engaged in Crimes Against Humanity should be punished and put behind bars. Anything short of that is mere public relations exercise.

Constable Kirui is just a sacrificial lamb, most likely because of his ethnic background. There are thousands of other Kiruis in the Kenya Police and they should all join Kirui in Kamiti or in the gallows. Maj Gen Ali should answer for the mass killings that have been committed under his watch in the five years he has been at the helm of the Kenya Police.

The KTN cameraman who risked his life to capture the macabre killing deserves an international human rights award. It’s encouraging that while the likes of Nation Media Group takes over the role KBC in doing public relations for the illegitimate Kibaki regime, there are few journalists who are ready to risk their lives to live up to their professionalism.

Compare the KTN bold with a shocking one at Nation Centre. In the height of political unrest in the country in January, Nation journalists in Kibera counted 14 bodies of demonstrators who had been killed by the police in a single day in Kibera slums.

But when the reporters returned to the office to file the story, they were told by their Editorial Director, Mr Wangethi Mwangi, to call Mr Kiraithe for the police version. Mr Kiraithe claimed only one person had been killed in Kibera that day! Mr Mwangi then told the journalists to ignore what they had personally witnessed and report what the police were saying. That has been the reporting style since Mr Linus Gitahi became the CEO over an year ago. The media house that was once respected for standing for the truth has reduced itself to Kibaki’s PPS, a worse situation than when Kenya Times was Kanu’s mouth-piece.

Just to show you how Nation Media Group is slowly killing itself by evolving into Kibaki’s mouth-piece, Mr Gitahi has completely snuffed out the independence of the Editorial Department by ensuring that mostly news friendly to Kibaki, his fellow Nyerian, sees the light of the day.

Mr Gitahi manipulated what was published and aired by NMG’s news outlets during the general elections. He also contributed to the famous Sh1 million-plate lunch for President Kibaki at Safari Park Hotel. Mr Gitahi spent the night of Dec 27 at Nation Centre monitoring the Presidential tally of votes. NMG had set up its own Command Centre to receive election results from their own reporters and correspondents in all the constituencies.

The figures received were fed into a computer and tallied. However, the figures disappeared mysteriously on Dec 29 when it was clear that Mr Raila Odinga was leading Mr Kibaki by a margin of one million votes. Gitahi is in a better position to explain the mystery which was to prepare the ground for the ECK to announce doctored figures.

Bravo KTN cameraman, Bravo KTN, Bravo Justice.

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12 comments:

Anonymous said...

For people espousing a 24hr economy, I am surprised at the weekend breaks in negotiations considering the urgency

Kemmy said...

Thanks Chris for this piece. However, I would like to point out that it's not just the Kenya Police that needs an overhaul. All public/government institutions in Kenya need to be completely audited and re-built from scratch.

Also, do you happen to know the name of that cameraman that captured the shooting, or is he anonymous for now due to safety concerns?

Anonymous said...

People are still dying/being killed. Camps are filling up further. This is very far from over, if it ever will be.

Anonymous said...

Kibaki says the people promoting violence will face the full force of justice.

Ah. So he will start with himself and then Michuki and then Kirui.

Steve said...

Kemmy, anon@9:43 I fully agree. Everything has changes. Kenya needs to turn this crises into an opportucity for change.

Check out Githogo's comments.

"The postcard Kenya that everyone sees with elephants and nice sunsets is gone," he said in an interview. "We have to now deal with the reality of Kenya, which is the majority of people who live in slums with no toilets and have a very hard life."

"We should not consider what has happened an aberration that can be corrected," Githongo remarked. "We need to realize that the elections were merely a trigger for problems that have been there for a long time."

"there's no quick solution that can be hammered out overnight and then everything returns to normal."

To help Kenya, outsiders need to grasp how fast Africa is changing from a rural to an urban society:
"People think of Africa as small populations living in the cities, mainly English-speaking sort of modern people with computers and cars and electricity, with the majority living in the rural countryside digging in the land. That's no longer true. The majority are now living in cities and, of the people who live in cities, 70 per cent live in slums with no toilets, no electricity, and they're the ones we see carrying machetes on TV."

http://www.thestar.com/News/World/article/301983

Anonymous said...

Without debating the innocence or otherwise of Kirui, the following points come to mind.

I coudnt agree with you more on the point that the prosecution of Kirui shows that Kibaki administration is not commited to dealing with human rights abuses by police. One wonders why the govt chose to investigate only these two deaths. The police shot in excess of 100 people in Kisumu alone, why not investigate all deaths and arraign all those responsibe in court. By looking at only two, the government is telling us they really dont care about the shootings, they are only acting when its documented and publicised by the media.

The policeman has been charged with the wrong crime, murder. We all know that murder charge will not stand in court of law and the policeman will go scott free. The government has not intention of having anyone punished for these crimes. This is just a public circus using taxpayers money.

The OCPD commanding the Kisumu police admitted to giving "shoot to kill" orders. Did anyone say she will be prosecuted? I haven't heard. Why prosecute a policeman who was just following her orders. Justice dictates that she must be prosecuted for such reckless disrespect for human rights.

In the final analysis, Kibaki administration can not be expected to investigate and prosecute itself. This is why an external team must be be considered. Those responsible (from Minister to the constable) must be charged. This is the only way to ensure that such crime will never be repeated.

On coverage of the election by Nation. I did see what you described. In the night Nation changed results from 2 million to 55,000. Then they changed again just to show ECK figures. I read mischief and knew something was wrong. Nation media lost all its credibility. I would not be surprised to note that they will face declining circulation going forward.

Why is Gitahi trying so hard to make Nation a tabloid. Since Kibaki came to power, Nation has been on a free fall. It is just too partisan to be taken seriously. Shame on Gitahi.

cicero said...

Of course Kirui is a scapegoat because, alas! he turned out not to be of the ethnicity you would have liked to be culpable. Shouldn't justice be blind to tribe?

Would you have put up such a spirited defense had the cop's name been Mwangi Waciuri.

Anonymous said...

People
wait until the picture of the police who shot the innocent Kenyan is enhanced! the word is that it is not Kurui- so let his Lawyer find the exact photo- Kurui is saying that was not him and he wan`t the picture to be properly enhanced to show his face
so seems there is something fishy going on or PNU has forgotten this days pictures can be worked on until you see clearly the face of an individual- so lets wait and see which face turns up.........

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Kirui is just being used. The people who should face charges for starting all this are the pentagon members, especially Ruto and Raila. These are the people we want to see prosecuted and preferably thrown into prison and the key tossed into the ocean. As for your independent KTN and Standard, phooey. Kirui a sacrificial lamb? dont be stupid. you must be terribly disappointed by the fact that the guy was not a kikuyu. Journalism clearly isnt one of your strengths because you are morbidly tribal. Maybe you should try selling mandazi instead. This is the problem with idiots trying to sound intelligent.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Kirui is just being used. The people who should face charges for starting all this are the pentagon members, especially Ruto and Raila. These are the people we want to see prosecuted and preferably thrown into prison and the key tossed into the ocean. As for your independent KTN and Standard, phooey. Kirui a sacrificial lamb? dont be stupid. you must be terribly disappointed by the fact that the guy was not a kikuyu. Journalism clearly isnt one of your strengths because you are morbidly tribal. Maybe you should try selling mandazi instead. This is the problem with idiots trying to sound intelligent.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Kirui is just being used. The people who should face charges for starting all this are the pentagon members, especially Ruto and Raila. These are the people we want to see prosecuted and preferably thrown into prison and the key tossed into the ocean. As for your independent KTN and Standard, phooey. Kirui a sacrificial lamb? dont be stupid. you must be terribly disappointed by the fact that the guy was not a kikuyu. Journalism clearly isnt one of your strengths because you are morbidly tribal. Maybe you should try selling mandazi instead. This is the problem with idiots trying to sound intelligent.

Anonymous said...

The shooter was not a kikuyu or a gema? What a big disappointment to Phil and his ilk?

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