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So you think you have rights? Really?

Thursday February 20 2014

By ABIGAIL ARUNGA
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6: 45 pm.

Uhuru Park.

My friends and I are sitting in the park, laughing, talking, having a good time.

We notice a commotion behind us and turn. There is a mass of people running our way.

Unlike typical Kenyans, we do not pause to stop and look. We get up and start to flee in a different direction from the masses.

We hear voices shouting at us to stop. We don’t; but when we look back, we see men with guns chasing us.

We see one man aiming his gun at us. We stop.

CURFEW?

There are five men. They all have guns.

None of them is wearing uniform.

But they say they are  policemen.

Apparently, there is a curfew currently running in all parks.

Apparently, it is in our Constitution that anyone in a park anywhere in Kenya after 6:30 p.m. is liable to be charged with loitering.

There is no sign that we can see saying so.

We refuse to go to the holding cell; these men have guns, we do not know who they are, and they want to take us somewhere we do not know.

And they are talking about a law we have never heard about.

I ask one of the ‘police’ to show me his identification. He refuses. They all refuse. They start getting angry when we will not come with them.

I ask to see his identification again – as is my right.

He puts his gun in my line of view.

We are led to the holding cell.

'MASUSPECTS'

We sit in the holding area at Central Park – somewhere I never noticed before – and beg to be let free. They ignore us.

There are many people there with us. It is getting dark. There is no lighting. The cops tell us stima imepotea.

There is one girl we are with whose friend left her and took off running. They tell her they will not let her go until she calls him back.

She is distraught.

They take her into bushes on the side.

We do not see her again.

One of the cops tells us we need to just sort this matter out here before the cop truck comes to take us away.

‘Hivi ndio masuspects hupatikana tu. Mnafaa kujisort hapa kabla niwaweke charges serious ya ukweli’ ( This is how suspects are caught. You should take care of yourselves here before I hit you with serious, proper charges).

We bribe him.

We leave.

********

I have reproduced this incident as it was told to me yesterday.

This is Kenya at 50 – where policemen lead girls they are supposed to protect into bushes, and are judge and jury for any case you throw against them.

You think you have rights? You think you can ask a policeman for his ID, and actually have him show you?

You have no rights. We all have no rights. Those in power can do as they please.

All oppression is interlinked. It is only a matter of time before it happens to you.

And we are busy having anti-gay protests and parking fee melees. You think your MP was ever in Uhuru Park, nearly being gunned down by a police officer?

No. That only happens to we, the people.

We the people with no rights.

Twitter : @AbigailArunga