"No Media, No Gatherings, No School": An Update from Auma in Migori, Kenya

Maria Jett
Posted January 23, 2008 from United States

I spoke at length with PulseWire user Auma via Skype this evening. She sends this update from Kenya:

Click this link to visit Auma's PulseWire profile: http://beta.pulsewire.net/user/105

No Media, No Gatherings, No School

The media has been gagged. They are not allowed to cover anything live, not allowed into certain forums.

Property has been destroyed and people left homeless. Our only arbitrator will be TRUTH AND JUSTICE.

If we get poorer than we are then many of us may stop living.

Me and my family try to keep safe, indoors when the going is tough. Police especially target the youth in their killings, and so I try to keep an eye especially on my sixteen year boy when the times are tough.

The youth are the most active in demanding for their rights, adamantly, especially those in their 20's and 30's. But the police dont care even if they are 10 or 20, when killing time comes they kill anybody in sight! Schools were supposed to have opened on the 7th, and the atmosphere is too tense for anybody to send children to school, and teachers too scared to reach school.

Amidst all this, my life and that of others must continue. I am doing what I must do. When the bulleting gets too scary, I retreat.

We sneak out everyday to buy something or get something done. Most businesses don't open, and when they do, they operate at a slow pace. Yesterday I was out all afternoon. I got to the post office to buy and to get my computer fixed to a wireless phone because the bluetooth is unreliable. Technology is so important to me... I wish I could have all of it in my hands!

We are living in anxiety and fear, but still, Kenyans are optimistic.

Now that Koffi Annan, former UN secretary general, Graca Machel, former South African first lady, East African community chairman, Mr. Yoweri Museveni and former Tanzanian president Mr. Benjamin Mkapa are here to mediate the talks. We hope that it will get us somewhere out of the crisis.

The Government is at Fault

Internationally,the conflict is presented as 'ethnic cleansing 'and 'Rwanda in the making,' since Raila and Kibaki are from two different ethnic communities.

But the bad situation is mostly of the government's making. The problem's base isn't ethnic but political. Why did we stay in brotherhood until December 27th? Weren't we aware aware that we belonged to different ethnic groups before that date?

Stealing votes is too commonly talked about, and will not spare them still. Gagging the media causes people to depend and react on rumours, speculation and guesswork. Denying the people from having peaceful meetings,like yesterday a funeral that was attended by Raila was scattered with arrogant statements by the govt, like 'what is Koffi Annan coming to do? Who invited him? We have no problem.' Or, 'Anybody who feels offended should go to court.' How can anybody go to a court where they are the judges?

And even if there are tribal clashes (the people demonstrating and destroying property) can't the government do something to stop it? What is worse than government forces shooting live bullets at public gathering?

We have seen and watched on TV police using the guns with arrogance. We have seen a policeman kicking somebody after he has shot him dead. Isn't that too personal?

We can see police all over the streets, then a lot of torching and killing. we have a little calm on one day and hell on the next.what are they actually out for, killing?

The government has the capacity to stop the violence, not to wait for it to happen and then comment negatively.

They have the power to gag... mouths and resources. Nobody will swallow that kind of dictatorship. Not even me here in Migori. (ha ha ha)

I am well aware that the people are not good either, like the Kibera slums, rioters pulled off a big part of the railway line in that area, hampering transportation... but that is the only 'sign language' they have resorted to, since there is no other forum.

If democracy worked on the 27th, and if that is the gospel preached,then that is how the country should be ruled.

The Electoral Commission Of Kenya failed to do it's duty well. Disputes arose before the announcements were made. And now the same chairman who announced the same results says that he doesn't know who won in the 2007 elections!

Dr. Wangari Maathai Calls for Dialogue

Speaking on Tuesday, the Nobel Peace Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai also blamed the state for the skirmishes:

'... [It is] astonishing since there is always a government on the ground, which should receive information about impending attacks.'

'If crimes committed during tribal clashes are not punished and the victims do not get justice and instead the govt sweeps the matter under the carpet, the perpetrators of tribal clashes get away.'

'Uganda alone is hosting six thousand refugees. There are thousands of displaced families that the govt is ordering to go home. Which homes, when they have all been burnt down? And who will guarantee them the security?'

'This time around, let Kenyans not sweep tribal clashes, demonstrations, murders, rapes and destruction of property under the carpet as they have always done. Only when the truth is known and justice is received can anxiety be reduced and all wounds healed.'

'It is easy to advice victims of tribal clashes to heal and reconcile from the safety of high offices and safe homes, but it is dialogue between the two leaders that would create a conducive environment for healing and reconciliation.'

Dr. Maathai also regretted that as the current political crisis persisted, Kibaki remained aloof and unreachable.

Comments 1

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Goldie Davich
Jan 28, 2008
Jan 28, 2008

maria -- thank you for sharing auma's story.

Goldie Davich, PulseWire Online Intern