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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