FRAUDULENT HUMAN RIGHT DEFENDERS
Posted on August 21, 2017 by juliusokoth
Going by the recent brutal government crackdown, systematic and targeted killings, painful violations and abuses by the same security agencies that was meant to protect them, which was documented and verified by the Kenya National Commision on Human Rights (KNCHR) after sporadic peaceful protests in opposition strongholds after the declaration of Kenya’s presidential results, i have had some serious soul-searching and deep reflection on the matter of targeted police brutality.
I am really pained as a human right defender, and i have to honestly vent my anger to some of my fellow grass root human right defenders without fear of “hurting” someone’s feeling for their application of double standards in defending human rights. I have agonized about this matter, and i have to speak out even if it proves unpopular in some quarters, because ultimately it is the truth that shall set us free.
Defending human rights to some of my fellow human rights defenders only becomes paramount and important only when it advances or favors their selfish interest, or when members of their community are executed, murdered, maimed, eyes gorged out and dead bodies are dumped in desolate places and rivers (Kinale, Kikuyu, Suswa, Mt Kenya, Kiserian, Mai Mahiu, Sabaki, Ol Donyo Sabuk etc). That is when we are called upon to show solidarity, to raise our clinched fists of justice to combat extrajudicial killings by highlighting instances and cases of these crimes, but it ceases to be so when it affects others.
I seldom talk about my tribe! Although my name betrays me, but looking at the gestures and postings of my fellow human rights defenders in social media platforms i have come to a conclusion that they are more or less supporting the brutalization of a certain community just because they do not agree politically. These has made me to come to a conclusion, that some of my fellow grass-roots human right defenders are deceptive and are in this field not out of passion and consistency but out of convenience.
When a clip showing a plain-clothed policeman shooting a boy (Somali) in Eastleigh without following due process circulated, we moved on very swiftly in solidarity, came out and protested in solidarity that police brutality is unacceptable in a civilized society, despite some members of the society praising the police for executing the boys. Those of us who spoke out were vilified and demonized as busybodies being that those boys were thugs and deserve to die extra judicially.
When ‘Hessy’ was posting pictures of his extra-judicial victims (mostly Kikuyus) on Facebook, we came out and protested in solidarity to condemn the act despite being told that those boys were members of “Gaza” gang and deserve to die extra judicially. We held vigils against extra judicial killings in solidarity with those who lost their loved ones, sons, brothers, husbands and uncles.
Now when the police are blatantly killing and torturing peaceful and unarmed demonstrators (mostly Luos) including kids, storming, breaking and forcing their way into the quite homes in some perceived opposition strong holds, firing in teargas, battering choking babies and their parents with batons, while at the same time demanding cash or phones, there is no solidarity among grass-roots human rights defenders to protest and condemned the act.
I am appalled at how some of my fellow human right defenders are silent in this matter of targeted police brutality. A human right defender who is silent on the ongoing atrocities, abuses and violations is an accomplice to the atrocities. “Elie” Wiesel, a human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize-winner once said that “silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented”. Amazingly, some of my fellow human right defenders were silent, and those who spoke said “these ‘Jaruos’ and their old man have been asking for it, they are criminals and looters who deserve to be executed extra judicially”.
Reading at their stuffs on social media, I’m amazed at how they supported perpetrators on the matter of targeted police brutality on Luo. Why? I ask myself. Then it comes to my mind that Adolf Hitler was a particularly popular leader. Even when he commenced his extermination of Jews and Gypsies and other minorities, the majority of Germans bought into his ‘sub-humans’ categorization of those he sought to persecute. Some went even extra mile and did their bit in the genocide. What made them? They were defending and protecting one of their own.
Whether we are Somalis, Kikuyus or Luos we are all human beings, created in Gods own image. A God that is not only the God of peace, but also the God of justice, the God of our National Anthem. None of us is a child of a lesser God, and none is in Kenya by mistake. Despite our odious beliefs or political orientation, we are all Kenyans and there is no justification or mitigation whatsoever by whomever that could be used to snuff out the others life. It is a taboo for a human right defender to treat other section of the society as strangers not owners of the country when they are facing atrocities, abuses and violations.
First, a human rights defender (hrd) is defined by his or her work, attitudes and behavior. It is an individual alone or with others act to promote, advocate, lobbying and protecting human rights impartially, formally and none violently without discriminating the victim or victims in terms of gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, tribe, color, class, religion or religious dress code, marital status, age, health status, ethnicity, language, geographical location, culture and lifestyle among others. A human right defender stands for what is right and strives for the realization of human rights even when it is not affecting them directly, and expresses the universally and indivisibility of human rights.
Judging by their silent, failing to speak up in a clearer, consistent and compelling voices in amplifying, condemning and demanding an end to the recent atrocities committed against opposition supporters by the police, have reminded me of best remembered quote by Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler. “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Because this targeted police brutality it did not happen to the communities of some of my fellow human right defenders, it did not matter to them, forgetting that tomorrow it shall be their turn. Life is a cycle Wheels do turn. Shoes do change. Nobody will speak when they will be clobbered to palp, and nobody will come to their rescue.
As human right defenders we should stand united against abuses and violation against any human being. Real change will come from us first as individuals and then as a collective. Personal values drive the collective action; and our destiny is in our own hands. Wiesel, goes further and says “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest”. United we should stand for each other’s joy and rights. Divided we fall to the abyss of us versus them. What affects me should affect you and vice versa! Let no Kenyan voice be suppressed. A suppressed voice grows to become an angry threat. An angry threat grows to become chaos.
Going by the quote of a Human rights Lawyer from Colombia that A human rights defender has to love life. To help others, s/he cannot fall into the trap of skepticism or defeatism. We have to overcome our internal and external limits, and that is only possible if we take care of ourselves. We have to transmit optimism and transformative messages; we can’t be with the victims in order to sow further misery. In general, human rights defenders have an enormous capacity to enjoy each moment in Life.
*SOCIAL JUSTICE ACTIVIST*