Over the last year or more, Kenya has been dealing with a series of terrorist attacks said to be the work of the Al Shabaab, an Al Qaida linked group based out of Somalia. The attacks had almost reached a fortnight frequency, like clockwork, on weekends. While in the past they’ve mostly used grenades in their attacks, which usually just take out one or two people, they’ve more recently changed tactic to have gunmen walk into public areas and shoot anything that moves. This has been more devastating with higher casualties, the most high profile incident being when 4 gunmen attacked Westgate mall.
With their attack a little over a month ago, on a church in Likoni, which left 4 dead and 17 others injured, the government, which was probably feeling the pressure and more than a little embarrassment that they had failed to prevent this after heighten security measures around the country, launched an operation in Eastleigh, long known to be the capital of the Somali community in Nairobi.
The operation is an attempt to find illegal people in the country and have them sent back to refugee camps and their own countries. This operation was launched probably because most of the terrorists seemed to be of Somali decent and this was likely where they would be hiding. Also, I assume the police were acting on other information that we’re not privy to.
All people in the sweep found to be lacking official documentation or suspect documentation were detained and taken to Kasarani Stadium for processing and to determine their origins.
Of course when this happened there was talk of profiling and targeting certain communities. Leaders from the Northern ends of Kenya began the stupid talk of “our people”. Several people expressed the opinion that it was wrong of us to target a section of society so. Talk of human rights violations abound. Some people even went as far as calling Kasarani “Kenya’s Guantanamo Bay” and I’ve been seeing a lot of talk about concentration camps on my timeline.
I really don’t envy the position that the president and his security team are in; they’ve had to make some pretty difficult decisions. Any decision they made in this situation would have been criticised and I think they chose the lesser of two evils. We would all be complaining of inaction if they hadn’t done something visible.
This operation is something akin to the terror attacks but meant to achieve the opposite result: to reassure and calm the public and investors that the government is still in control of the situation and is doing everything possible to catch these guys.
Further, I doubt this is an action born of rash decision making; I want to assume that the government is acting on information that’s just not available to the rest of us. There’s also the fact that it would be easier for them to hide amongst people who look like them.
Now while I’m fully and completely in support of the government’s actions, I am a little worried about the claims of human rights abuses and would like to have those put to rest by allowing unrestricted access to a few organisations once every so often, 3 or 4 days.
Of course we can’t have too many people looking over our shoulders while we conduct this operation so the organisation with access can be limited to just one, which would have to be above reproach, I suggest UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), so no one can claim bribery, intimidation or otherwise.
I’d be doing wrong not to point out that several organisations did have access, although they say limited. I guess they can’t allow full access due to national security issues, and had nothing much to report.
To end this post let me leave you all with a conspiracy theory I saw on twitter
“You’ll find that this whole operation was just launched so someone could justify the new tender for the digital registration of people.”
Funny but still…
Anyway, I urge everyone to calm down and let the government do their job and hopefully, just hopefully, we’ll all be safer for it. Peace!!!