ODM MPs criticise harassment of bloggers

Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi said the Jubilee government was bent on “hiding something” from the public

Wednesday January 27 2016

ODM MPs Opiyo Wandayi (centre), Denittah Ghati (left) and Fred Outa address journalists at Parliament in Nairobi,January 26, 2016. PHOTO | JAMES EKWAM | NATION MEDIA GROUP

ODM MPs Opiyo Wandayi (centre), Denittah Ghati (left) and Fred Outa address journalists at Parliament in Nairobi,January 26, 2016. PHOTO | JAMES EKWAM | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JOHN NJAGI
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A section of ODM MPs on Tuesday decried what they termed harassment of bloggers and journalists, and called for more tolerance for Kenyans to express their views freely.

Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi said the Jubilee government was bent on “hiding something” from the public, explaining why it was keen to clamp down on social media commenters especially those who were critical of the government.

“Kenyans should be very afraid when the government in power starts becoming fearful. What are they trying to hide? Bloggers should be allowed to express their opinions freely,” he said.

Four ODM MPs, who spoke at a press conference at Parliament on Tuesday, were reacting to the arrest of blogger Yassin Juma, for allegedly posting online images of scene of the deadly attack on Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers in Somalia.

He was, however, released without a charge, which MPs said raised eyebrows and was a pointer to a government keen on intimidating, harassing people who expressed views that were contrary to what the government would like to be projected.

Mr Wandayi said Kenyans should be on guard not be taken back to the “Kanu days” where freedoms were handed over by the State, saying the Jubilee government was trying to take away from Kenyans their freedom of expression, which they had fought for.

Seme MP James Nyikal said the government had resorted to arresting suspects and detaining them, as they fished for evidence of the crimes they had allegedly committed, which was akin to detention without trial of the repressive days.

Migori Woman Representative Dennitah Ghati said the government should not target bloggers because they did not express views supportive of the government.

“It is the work of bloggers and journalists to criticise the government. If the government does not want to be criticised then they should become pastors but even pastors face criticism nowadays so they should learn to live with criticism,” she said.

Ms Ghati said the government should not arrest and harass bloggers that criticised its policies while leaving its own bloggers, who often trumpeted government strength, to operate freely.

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