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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid