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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll 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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs