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Kenyan Muslims Protest Abduction of Campaigner


A Kenyan human rights group says a campaigner has disappeared in Nairobi, taken by people they suspect were Kenyan security agents. The lobby is planning to hold demonstrations this week in response. For VOA, Malcolm Webb reports from Nairobi.

The Nairobi-based Muslim Human Rights Forum is arranging street protests, following what they believe was the abduction of Farah Mohammed Abdullahi by Kenyan anti-terror police. Abdullahi was a vocal campaigner for the release of Kenyans held abroad for alleged terrorism links. The chairman of the forum, Al-Amin Kimathi, gave his account of what happened.

"Last Sunday but one, at about seven o'clock, as he was leaving the mosque in the Eastleigh section of Nairobi. He was confronted. Eyewitnesses say there were two gentlemen. To them they appeared quite friendly and later on he was put in a car, which they identified as one of the cars they suspected to belong the anti-terrorist police unit. From then on he has never been seen," he said.

Kimathi says the eyewitnesses have been advised by lawyers not to speak to the media because of fear for their safety. He says after nearly a week of extensive searching by Abdullahi's family, friends and the Forum, they concluded he had been taken by Kenyan authorities but the police have denied any involvement.

Abdullahi was known for his campaigning, in particular for the release of his younger brother, Abdi Mohammed Abdullahi, who was arrested by Kenyan police at the beginning of this year. Kimathi says Abdullahi had been in contact with Abdi, who said he had been take first to Mogadishu, and later imprisoned in Ethiopia.

Abdi was one of more than one-hundred-and-fifty people from at least eighteen countries, who were arrested near the border of Somalia, during the war between Somali Islamists and Ethiopian forces earlier this year. Some have since been released.

Human Rights groups say most of those arrested ended up in Ethiopian prisons, but Ethiopia has confirmed detaining only forty-one terror suspects.

Kimathi claims the Kenyan government is not pressing for the return of Kenyan detainees.

"We are seeing a pattern that is developing where the police act as if they are a law unto themselves, and the government does not even come to heed the cries to have the human rights and the legal rights of suspects adhered to," Kimanthi said.

VOA was unable to reach the Kenyan police for comment.

Human rights groups say Washington has a great deal of influence in the region, and say Kenya appears to have followed the clandestine U.S. practice of rendition, or transferring detainees to other countries.

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