The Road to Garissa
#KasaraniConcentrationCamp: “Operation Usalama Watch was launched on April 2, 2014, following a major terrorist attack last year and a series of smaller bombings in Nairobi and Mombasa. The name “Kasarani Concentration Camp” comes from Kasarani Stadium, which was turned into a police station early in the operation, and where an unknown number of people are still being held. (Numbers have been a huge problem this whole time; those who have passed through the stadium are said to be in the thousands, those held at any given time in the hundreds). The detainees include women, children, and the elderly. Conditions at the stadium and police stations where people are held are atrocious. Humanitarian organizations have been told to keep out.”
Westgate: “During and since the four-day siege of Westgate, I have been thinking about discourses of violence, and about the forgetting-ness that such violence requires. One of the gunmen shooting people at the mall stopped to explain why they were killing even women and children. He said, “You did not spare our women and children. Why should we spare yours?”
our grief may not
be branded for profit
an eight-year old is an eight-year old is an eight-year old
Wagalla is Waziristan is Westgate
a pregnant woman is a pregnant woman is a pregnant woman
Garissa is Kismayo is Nairobi
Kenya is the seventh highest military spender in Africa: “Kenya bought a huge consignment of arms last year from Serbia, a Russian ally that was once part of Soviet-bloc nation Yugoslavia, after a lull in purchases of heavy artillery in 2013, a new global report has revealed.”
“After nine days of late night meetings and plenty of arm-twisting, the fragile government of Somalia was finally forced to accept that a further slice of its territory had slipped beyond its control. The deal, signed in Addis Ababa, recognised Jubaland as yet another quasi-independent entity. This strip of land in southern Somalia and bordering on Kenya and Ethiopia, it is the illegitimate heir of both of these countries.”
Kenya police unleash 10 weeks of hell on Somali refugees: “The report documents how police used grenade and other attacks by unknown people in Nairobi’s mainly Somali suburb of Eastleigh and a government order to relocate urban refugees to refugee camps as an excuse to rape, beat, extort money from, and arbitrarily detain, at least 1,000 people. The police described their victims as “terrorists,” and demanded payments to free them. Human Rights Watch also documented 50 cases in which the abuses would amount to torture.”
Kenya invades Somalia: “No. Longer. Impotent. Our boys in uniform will prove they are MEN! Let the women talk about politics—the men are going out to secure our borders. Kill the terrorists. Make Kenya Safe. New blood is pumping into our national erections. We are pointing proud and straight.”
Kenyan writers warn “all Kenyans will pay” for invasion of Somalia: “We, the undersigned, register, in the strongest terms, our opposition to Kenya’s military incursion into Somalia. We note that several months at minimum is required to plan a military operation that involves crossing borders. Therefore the reasons put forward by the Kenyan government for this operation are demonstrably false.”
The U.S. warns Kenya not to invade Somalia: “U.S. cables made public by WikiLeaks show that the United States warned Kenya two years ago not to launch an offensive in southern Somalia against al Qaida-allied al Shabab rebels, but a U.S. official also offered to check on the “feasibility” of a U.S. review of the plans. Kenya went ahead with an invasion a month ago, saying it was a response to a recent series of kidnappings near the border between the two countries. But the existence of the cables undercuts Kenya’s claim that the move had not been long planned.”
Ethiopia invades Somalia: “The UIC (United Islamic Courts) defeated the warlords and created peace in Mogadishu for the first time in 16 years and without any help from the international community. Rather than engaging with the UIC, the U.S. and its African clients considered them as terrorists and Ethiopia was given the green light to invade and dismantle it. Ethiopian forces took over Mogadishu on December 25, 2006, and the prospect of a peaceful resurrection of Somalia perished.
Kenya’s behavior in the Kismayo region and its involvement in undermining the Somali government have alienated most Somalis. The brutality of the Ethiopian occupation has been documented by human rights groups. Resisting the Ethiopian occupation became the rallying cry for all Somalis. Some of the toughest challengers of the Ethiopian war machine were segments of the UIC militia known as al-Shabab. Their valour endeared them to many Somalis and this marked the birth of al-Shabab as we know it today. Had the international community and particularly the West productively engaged the UIC, I am confident that al-Shabab would have remained an insignificant element of a bigger nationalist movement.”
The Somali state collapses: “As traumatic as the Westgate tragedy is, it must teach thoughtful Kenyans and others that the largest number of victims of al-Shabab are not Kenyans, Ugandans, or others, but Somalis in Somalia. Al-shabab has imposed an incredible tyranny on the population and has disabled them from rebuilding their war-torn country. The international community, including Africans, have been not only oblivious to the plight of the Somali people, but have turned them into a disposable political football since the collapse of their state in 1991.
“For over 16 years the world watched warlord terrorists rape, loot and kill Somalis with impunity. In some instances, members of the international community used the warlords as clients to affect their agenda in Somalia. For instance, the value of the Somali shilling against the US dollar appreciated significantly in late 2005 and early 2006 as the market in Mogadishu realised that there was a flood of dollars coming into the city. The source of these was American intelligence sources that supported some of the warlords against what later became known as the Union of the Islamic Courts (UIC).”
Wagalla Massacre of 5,000 Kenyan Somalis: “Survivors have told the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission how they were forced to strip naked and to lie on the ground. They were held for five days without food and water. Clothes doused in petrol were put on them and some were burnt to death. Those who tried to escape were shot. The dead bodies were not buried but were dumped in the nearby bushes where they were eaten by hyenas.”
Garissa Gubay massacre of 300-plus Kenyan Somalis: “Mr Hamud Sheikh Mohamed, a retired public health officer, told the hearing at the Garissa Public Library that security personnel rounded up residents of Garissa Town, shot at people indiscriminately, raped others and torched houses. A total of 300 people were killed in the Garissa Gubay massacre.”
Shifta war and the mass graves of Isiolo: “On a sunny morning in 1963, a lorry full of military servicemen roared into a dusty village in Isiolo. The soldiers jumped out and started marking houses with what looked like chalk. Residents thought it was some sort of a population census routine, but they were wrong. The Shifta War had begun, and would continue officially for four years and behind the scenes for three decades.”
From the report of Kenya’s Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission:
“I received beatings every day. All of us — women, children, and men — were all the same. We were shiftas in the eyes of our tormentors.
“There was no water in the camp, and life was very hard. Military personnel would remove women’s headscarves and pull us by our hair.
“We watched helplessly as our children were trampled on and killed. Many of the women in the camps were also raped repeatedly.”
Leader of Evidence: You did indicate that some people were given poisoned meat. Is what you wrote true? Do you know about this?
Hassan Kuno Ali: It is true. When they came, they injected the animal with poison. They then slaughtered the animals and gave the meat to the people. When people ate the meat, they slept and could not wake up. They died.
Leader of Evidence: Who poisoned the meat?
Hassan Kuno Ali: It was the police and the army personnel.
“Archival material from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom suggests that the Government of Kenya was indeed poisoning water sources as a way of limiting the movement of people and their herds and enabling security forces to patrol smaller and more contained areas.”
Somali northeast votes to join Somalia: “Kenyan-Somalis’ sore relations with the government of Kenya have a rich history. Carved out of Somalia by the British, the arid northern region was neglected by both colonial and post-colonial administrations. Born out of this history of marginalization, Kenyan-Somalis identify more with their ethnic group in Somalia than with the rest of Kenyans.
“In a 1962 referendum, residents voted overwhelmingly to join Somalia. But Kenya refused to accept the results, hampering Mogadishu’s plans to form “Greater Somalia” by annexing all Somali-populated areas in the region, including Djibouti and Ethiopia’s Ogaden state.”