Breaking News

Lest we forget those killed in polls violence

Saturday August 26 2017

Rioters take off after police officers lobbed tear gas at them in Kibera, Nairobi on August 12, 2017 as they protested against the IEBC declaration of re-election of Uhuru Kenyatta as president. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Rioters take off after police officers lobbed tear gas at them in Kibera, Nairobi on August 12, 2017 as they protested against the IEBC declaration of re-election of Uhuru Kenyatta as president. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By GABRIEL DOLAN
More by this Author

It is business as usual when agenda number one for the newly elected Members of Parliament is to reject the recently published salary scales from the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC). To hear one public representative claim that SRC’s proposal of a monthly income of Sh621,250 is living like a ‘pauper’ is a preposterous insult to the thousands of poor citizens who rose at four in the morning to vote her into office.

They should press the recall button right away and give a red card.

Makes you realise how representative democracy has failed miserably. We continuously elect a bunch of politicians who are more committed to represent their own interests rather than those of the public.

There is nothing honourable about their behaviour and such titles should be earned and not merely bestowed because you get the nod of approval from your party leader.

Change and reform rarely comes from the so-called august houses; houses haunted by greed and corruption rather than blessed with commitment to service and social justice.

KILLINGS

Most decent people would have expected the newly elected MPs to prioritise an inquiry into the killings in the post election period.

These have been conveniently forgotten as politicians and media outlets have adopted the foreign narrative at relief that we had not another bloodbath like 2007.

So the conversation goes that ‘only 21, 28 or whatever died’. We proudly celebrate that the police killed fewer protestors and bystanders than they did a decade ago. As a result, the elections are deemed a success.

We tolerate mediocrity as we want to resume our normal lives and move on.

Thankfully, not everyone has forgotten. In Mombasa this week, civil society actors held a silent march through the coastal city in remembrance of the slain.

The marchers carried banners with the names of the slain while acknowledging, with the assistance of the KNCHR, that 10 of the 31 dead are yet to be identified.

ARM BANDS

Clad in white with black arm bands, they processed silently through the streets and concluded with prayers and another period of silence.

They were never going to accept the narrative of Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i that these were common criminals, including an infant and a nine year-old-girl.

Their silent witness spoke volumes but they also had a message to the government of the day.

They demanded that each of the deaths be investigated thoroughly and those police officers responsible be prosecuted immediately.

Further demands included the waiving of hospital fees for the injured and deceased and an assurance by President Kenyatta that the Constitution guarantees all Kenyans a right to peacefully demonstrate.

PROTECT LIFE

The Mombasa initiative reminds us of the sacredness of all life and the moral duty to cherish and protect each and every life.

It also demands accountability from the state and its law enforcers. This week we also remember Fr John Kaiser who was slain 17 years ago.

We continue to ask why those adversely mentioned in the public inquest on his killing have not been investigated.

As in Mombasa, do not presume that our apparent silence indicates forgetfulness. We have not gone away are will not be silenced. 

 

Father Dolan is a Catholic priest based in Mombasa. [email protected] @GabrielDolan1