Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Kenyans for Peace, Truth, Justice
Statement from Concerned Citizens and Governance, Human Rights and Legal Organizations
We speak in the name of Kenya's governance, human rights and legal organizations, as well as the concerned citizens who have been working with us over the past weeks.
We have received alarming reports from human rights monitors in Nairobi’s low-income areas. They report that local political leaders are mobilising gangs of youth to deter attendance at rallies called by the Orange Democratic Movement on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
These leaders are taking advantage of the police ban on the said rallies to incite youth along tribal lines, with calls to rise up and ‘defend their government’. This information is already causing great anxiety amongst residents of the affected areas, causing further displacements of families as they seek to flee the threat of violence. These insidious activities are confined to low income, high population areas, Police protection for the poorest sections of society is sadly wanting, allowing such militia to rein havoc.
The continued ban on public rallies creates an environment for the criminal element to breed fear and perpetrate acts of violence against innocent Kenyans. The ban creates the impression that the government is at war with its citizens, and that citizens need to take sides-perhaps even through violence. This situation is untenable. Unless addressed, we fear it will degenerate into a catastrophic cycle of ethnic hate and violence.
We hereby reaffirm the universal right to organise and assemble
. We ask the police to uphold this right, and protect the lives of each and every Kenyan citizen, regardless of ethnic origin, economic status, or political persuasion.
The continued lack of dialogue between the Party of National Unity and the Orange Democratic Movement is driving further divisions between communities in the country. We urge comprehensive dialogue not only to redress the electoral travesty that took place, but to also address the underlying causes of ethnic division and political violence in our nation.
Lastly we urge the police to investigate these reports with haste, and to immediately arrest the said perpetrators of political violence, and to ensure adequate security and protection in the affected areas and other political hotbeds around the country in the days to come.