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Man Killed by Kenyan Police While Protesting Marketplace Eviction

Protester killed during a demonstration against the forced eviction of traders from a marketplace in Nairobi.

Tensions are high after a standoff between police and protesters that left one dead on Waiyaki Way, one of Nairobi's busiest roads.

More than 400 merchants gathered near the Kangemi slum in Nairobi to protest the demolition of their marketplace in the neighboring Kabete Native Industrial Training Department.

Many of protesters reportedly left their children dressed in school uniforms at the office of the commissioner for Nairobi's Westlands District to demonstrate the effect of the marketplace's destruction on their families.

According to a source who asked not to be named, the group used ropes to tie themselves together and sat down on the road to prevent cars from passing. The demonstration, made up of mostly women, refused to leave the road until they were given an audience with the Provincial Commissioner of Nairobi, Njoroge Ndirangu.

Police reportedly fired teargas in an attempt to break up the demonstration, and then shot at the crowd, hitting a man taking part in the protest in the chest. The man, who was not identified, died at the scene. The police spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

The director of Amnesty International Kenya, Justus Nyang'aya, condemned the actions of the police and called for the Kenyan government to respect the merchants' right to be heard.

"The government needs to treat the women and people that are vulnerable with a lot more dignity and respect," he said. "These people, the only thing that they need is for somebody to talk to them and explain why certain actions are being taken. They just want respect, they want an audience, they want engagement with the government. They were carrying out a peaceful demonstration on something that had been agreed upon by the government, the same government now that is shooting them."

According to Amnesty, the marketplace at Kabete was demolished by bulldozers on June 10, destroying around 100 homes and 470 market stalls on orders from the Nairobi City Council. The merchants returned and attempted to rebuild, only to be driven out once again a few days later.

The land for the marketplace at the Kabete site was originally granted to the merchants after they were evicted from their roadside stalls in nearby Kangemi to make room for a road construction project.

While the initial relocation to the Kabete site was conducted with consultation from the community, Nyang'aya told VOA that the merchants were given no prior notice of last week's evictions. The protesters say they will not move until their voices are heard.