Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Reports from human rights groups, based on information from monitors in the field, indicate that there are four sources of the ongoing violence in Kenya.
The first type of violence, which erupted in the immediate aftermath of the elections, was spontaneous, anarchic protest at the announcement of the presidential result. People took to the streets in Western Kenya, in the slums of Nairobi, in the towns of Rift Valley.
It was met with the second kind of violence, excessive force by the police and GSU. The government gave the police the right to use "lethal force" – in other words, live ammunition, and freedom to shoot to kill. The casualties were multiplied by the ban on peaceful free assembly, meaning any attempt at legitimate protest, including women walking to church, was met with tear gas and police brutality.
The third form of violence is organized militia activity. A report released last week by Human Rights Watch investigations indicate that opposition party officials and local
elders planned and organized ethnic-based violence in the Rift Valley. The attacks, targetted mostly Kikuyu and Kisii people in and around the town of Eldoret.
Meanwhile, PNU leaders reactivated and deployed the Mungiki militia in Nairobi and the Rift Valley, while Chinkororo were mobilized in Nyanza.
The fourth kind of violence, escalating day by day, is communal revenge for killings and attacks that have already occurred.
I think of the words of Arundhati Roy, Indian writer, in response to the 2002 communal massacres in India.
"This is us. In India. Heaven help us make it through the night."
This is Kenya. This is us.