I am very sure that the thing that has led you to this is blog is the curious title that it has. You very well know that Guantanamo is in Cuba, and hence the Kenyan bit in the title got you thinking. This is simply an effort directed at shedding light on the reasons non-Americans like myself are promoting this petition. Following a stream of similar questions, and which a fellow blogger Duncan also put forth in the Webinar that we had yesterday with Amnesty International, I felt that it was important to clarify why those of us who are not American are doing this. I am sure that you would rather sign a petition that directly affects you, one that can have an impact on the leaders that you elected, one that you can relate to without seeking explanations like the ones I will be giving now. Well, this post is about showing you proof of how this petition is both Global but with local ramifications. This blog post simply proves that there a piece of Guantanamo in each and every country, and where better to destroy these Guantánamo’s than at their source.
But before I continue, let me preempt the next obvious question. Where is the illegality in the existence of Guantanamo Bay Cuba? Well, for starters, it was established outside the soil that is the United States of America so that those it detained could not enjoy the constitutionally guaranteed Human Rights for anybody on the US soil. Once that was done, they could get away, if Amnesty International and other Human Rights bodies let them, with illegal detention, torture, and all manner of ill treatment towards detainees. I could quote to you how many treaties and conventions that this single act by the US contravenes, but I won’t. Instead, I would like to request you to walk with me down the following line of thought.
Amnesty International divided its checklist to President Obama into four major areas which are, Close Guantánamo and end illegal detention, Counter terror with justice, Eradicate torture and other ill-treatment, and lastly End impunity. And under each of these issues, I can bet you that our Government is culpable.
Close Guantánamo and end illegal detention…
In Kenya, we do not have a Guantanamo Bay but we might as well have our prisons renamed GITMO and shifted to some lawless Island where International Laws do not apply. In Kenya, all those issues raised by Amnesty International are committed here against Kenyans with total disregard to our constitutional Rights and Freedoms. In Kenya, you can be arbitrarily arrested for absolutely nothing, and like many similar cases, stay in remand for years, even decades without trial. Guantánamo in deed. Just in the last fortnight alone, over five cases have been reported in the news whereby those arrested for reasons best known to the arresting officers have ended up dead. That is torture cum murder, and nobody seems to be doing anything. These are just a few cases that the Media shed some light on, prompting the Internal Security Minister to make a Ministerial statement. This petition is against illegal detention and torture, and Kenyans know this too well. This may not be Guantanamo, but it sure is similar to if not worse than the real thing. If you feel me on this and if you have that urge to do your small part in making things right, and to force the Minister do more than making ministerial statements, please sign this petition… http://obama100days.amnesty.org/petition.html
Important links on Illegal Detention…
USA: Timeline: End illiegal US detentions
USA: Facts and figures: Illegal US detentions
USA: Solidarity with Guantanamo detainees: Voices from Guantanamo
Counter terror with justice…
For a while over the past few years, Kenya was under siege from illegal sects that run cartels which extorted money from hard working Kenyans. These sects, like the Mungiki and the Sabaot Land Defence Force committed crimes that would make your blood freeze in their veins. They maimed and decapitated their victims, at which point we wondered aloud where our police force was. The then Internal Security Minister gave a shoot to kill order that has seen thousands of youth die in the hands of the police. Our police officers have gone on the rampage, kidnapping, demanding ransom, and executing not only those suspected of belonging to these sects, but the youth in general. Kenya Human Rights Commission has raised a red flag on this, but so far to no avail. Ask any youth, especially males, what they fear most every time they leave the safety of their houses and they will tell you cops, not robbers, not accidents caused by drunk driving, not George W. Bush, just cops. The many local songs in Kenya allude to this fact too. Unfortunately, a leader of a local youth group in a slum area recently said that it has become useless to teach the youth about safe sex, and HIV/AIDS. This is because most of the youth there have died from police bullets than any other disease including AIDS. All these are extra judicial killings and hence the reason I urge you to sign this petition… http://obama100days.amnesty.org/petition.html
Eradicate torture and other ill-treatment…
Kenyans surely remember those scenes of young men, women and children being smoked out of their houses using tear gas, and then beaten and forced to lie, face down, on the sewage laden streets of the slum corridors. You must also remember those fear stricken youth who were then forced to search for weapons in the highly polluted Nairobi River. This was before they were stuffed into the waiting police vans and ferried away. This is surely not the first time we have seen this, and because of it, it has come to be seen as the norm, the way the police work. I had to warn a good friend of mine, Ronald Waweru, who has just come back from a six year sojourn in China not to intimidate or provoke any Kenyan police officer, even if they assault him. A normal encounter with the Kenyan police force always proves that the only way they get their confessions is through torture. They normally slap you even before you are arrested and the beatings get worse once you are arrested. Torture here is just normal once you are arrested. Honestly, we do not know any better. But as much as we have seen these things happen since we were born, they should not be happening. I hope you will help end this treatment that we have been subjected to, and signing this petition is the first step… http://obama100days.amnesty.org/petition.html
Impunity; if ever there was a word that Kenyan new better. In the 45 year history of this country, no recommendations of the dozens of commissions set up to investigate the various assassinations, corruption cases, land issues, or reform agendas have ever been implemented. The corrupt are never fired, they are instead transferred or appointed to new positions. To proper understand how impunity is entrenched in Kenya, just recall a while back when MP’s signed the retrogressive media bill. Legal Crimes. It this impunity which has ensured that, 45 years on after our independence, we are still fighting for the same fundamental rights and freedoms that we thought independence from the colonial masters assured us. The right to assembly and the right to free speech are still negotiable as our leaders move to gag the media. Our leaders break rules and walk. The powerful in society do not abide by the same laws that the rest of us Kenyans, and when they break the law, they are never held to account. Only commissions whose recommendations will never be implemented are set up, just as smokescreen that something is happening. Yet another reason for you to sign this petition… http://obama100days.amnesty.org/petition.html
But ultimately, one thing can be claimed to be the case. The United States once had the Moral Authority to question human rights policies of any other country. Most countries (Kenya inclusive) that abuse Human Rights treaties and conventions like to hide under the term “Sovereignty”, whenever these accusations are cast their way. However, they have lately started using more than sovereignty in their defense. They these days tell America to clean its house first before acting like the International Police. This means that they have taken cue from the abuses committed by the United States itself, and this has acted as a buffer against those who usually claimed to be holier than thou. If President Obama finally makes things right, and given his special attachment with Kenya, our leaders might feel compelled to also reform. That is why this petition is international, and if you still have not signed, this is once again the link to that petition. http://obama100days.amnesty.org/petition.html
Your signature is important… For so many reasons, to so many people.