News / Africa

    Police Raids Alienate Kenya's Largest Ethnic Minority

    Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga at a peace rally in the Eastleigh suburb of Nairobi, Nov. 22, 2012. (R. Gogineni/VOA)
    Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga at a peace rally in the Eastleigh suburb of Nairobi, Nov. 22, 2012. (R. Gogineni/VOA)
    Roopa Gogineni
    NAIROBI—Frequent grenade and bomb attacks have plagued Kenya ever since it invaded Somalia in October of last year. The government blames al-Shabab for the insecurity, and Kenyan police have responded by conducting regular sweeps of Nairobi's predominantly ethnic-Somali suburb of Eastleigh, searching for supporters of the Islamist group.
     
    Clashes between Somali and Kenyan youth erupted in Eastleigh earlier this week, shortly after a bomb ripped through a minibus on Sunday, killing seven and wounding dozens of others. Kenyan police stepped in, firing bullets and teargas to disperse the rioting crowds.
     
    Residents look for survivors in wreckage of passenger mini-bus that was bombed in the Eastleigh suburb of Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 18, 2012.Residents look for survivors in wreckage of passenger mini-bus that was bombed in the Eastleigh suburb of Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 18, 2012.
    x
    Residents look for survivors in wreckage of passenger mini-bus that was bombed in the Eastleigh suburb of Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 18, 2012.
    Residents look for survivors in wreckage of passenger mini-bus that was bombed in the Eastleigh suburb of Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 18, 2012.
    The recent crackdown on ethnic-Somalis, with the aim of rooting out suspected al-Shabab cells, has alienated one of Kenya’s largest minority communities, and now some Kenyan officials are conducting political damage-control.
     
    On Thursday afternoon, a convoy of Kenyan politicians lumbered through Eastleigh's potholed roads to hold a peace rally.
     
    “We are united in our diversity, that is our strength as Kenyans," Prime Minister Raila Odinga proclaimed via loudspeaker, standing up through the moonroof of a car.
     
    But not everyone in the surrounding streets would hear the decree. Nearby, in one of Eastleigh’s many shopping malls, store owner Istahil Hersi did not attend.
     
    Her cousin was killed during Monday’s rioting. Eyewitnesses, she says, saw men in uniform shoot 25-year-old Abdullahi Aideed Mohammed, a recent college graduate. Relatives rushed him to the hospital but were too late.
     
    “They said he died already,” says Hersi, adding that police refused to release Abhdullahi’s body to relatives unless they signed a document pledging they would not pursue legal action.
     
    Though police have not commented on the allegation, Hersi describes it as blackmail.
     
    “They say, 'if you tell your lawyer, if you go to court, we can’t give you the body',” she says.
     
    Two stalls down from Hersi is cashier Mohammed Aralle Mohammed, whose apartment was stormed by police after Monday's riots. Shortly after midnight, officers arrested his brother, Farhan, accusing him of belonging to al-Shabab.
     
    “Either they say you’re involved in a gang or you’re part of al-Shabab," he says, explaining that Farhan is being held in a prison in Nairobi’s industrial area with around 60 others from Eastleigh, according to his brother’s estimates.
     
    “Yesterday and the day before I went to the court, and they said everyone must pay 100,000 Kenyan shillings for each person arrested above the age of 18,” says Mohammed.
     
    He cannot afford to pay the bond and does not know when Farhan will be released, and he claims police did not ask his brother, who holds refugee status, for any documents before arresting him. 
     
    Rights group weighs in
     
    Human Rights Watch researcher Otsieno Namwaya says police are becoming more heavy-handed.
     
    “Even Kenyan-Somalis with papers, like national identity cards, are being detained," he says. "To a Kenyan-Somali, [it means] that a national identity card is no longer a guarantee that you will be treated as a Kenyan.”
     
    Manwaya claims the number of arbitrary arrests is growing.
     
    “The Kenyan police do not bother to investigate to determine who were behind it," he says. "They will say it is al-Shabab. But when you ask them, what is the evidence it is al-Shabab and not just common criminals, they don't show you any evidence.”
     
    Police could not be reached for comment. Residents estimate hundreds were arrested during this week’s raids.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora