Then They Came for “Suspected Gang Members”
By Dorcas S
On this one, I am going to conflate several issues from the very get-go:
For starters, there is a direct line from the blatant impunity embodied in yesterday’s very public and brazen extra-judicial killing of suspected gang members in Eastleigh to what happened in/to the country during and after the post-election violence of 2007/8.
And just as there is a straight line linking the impunity at the very top of the country to the impunity at the bottom and all in-between, there is a distinct and disturbing disconnect between the outrage and calls for swift “justice” against crimes perpetrated by low level petty “gang members” and the “jameni ni fanye nini” obfuscation when those at the very top ADMIT to carting off billions intended for a failed medical system that admits responsibility for the death of sick citizens; death due to sub-standard and/or inadequate resources.
I am still trying to understand the thinking that supports blatant misuse of one’s monopoly of violence against obviously unarmed and subdued suspects – presumably innocent until proven guilty. I am also trying to understand the area’s Police Commander Japheth Koome’s bloviation that the video ‘was acted’ and “did not happen” even though (a) the video evidence is there for all to see and (b) one or two families have two relatives – dead from multiple gun shots.
Two very distinct thoughts come to mind after watching video of the 2nd suspect being executed and the primal baying of blood and high-fiving by some quarters of the country.
The first thought is a variant of Martin Niemöller’s powerful call for all to stand up against any injustice anywhere:
In speaking out against Adolf Hilter, the Protestant pastor offered the following:
– First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.
– Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
– Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.
– Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
The “They” in the foregoing lines is the dominant power structure i.e. Nazi Germany and its use of its instruments of power, law and order etc. against opponents – groups or individuals.
The other thought was yet another variant of the rather macabre
“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”.
Attributed, some say wrongly to Mahatma Gandhi, the foregoing speaks to the impact of acting out vengeance and a colorful way to say “two wrongs don’t make a right”.
It does not.
Kenya, supposedly a country of laws, human rights and due process will have to answer the question re: what happens when those whose duty it is to “to serve and protect” become judge, jury and executioner?
It is one thing to countenance the occasional default to the punitive, indeed human reaction to law enforcement colleagues felled in the line of duty, by criminals and thugs who have zero compunction about taking a life – any life. One would have to be extricated from their humanity not to feel nothing but love and support for those who put their lives on the line every day.
However, and this assertion is not intended to prompt a weighty penta-dimensional socio-anthropological discussion, what separates humans from animals is the former’s ability to think – through weighty emotion-filled issues and moments. The moment we, humans, rid ourselves of that faculty is the moment society degenerates into anarchy and in the nation/state construct, becomes a failed state. Already the words “Kenya” and “failed state” are increasingly used and written successively in sentences/statements as in “Kenya, a failed state….” or “Kenya IS a failed state” or “Is Kenya a failed state?”
For a variety of reasons, the country’s institutions of government have failed to counter-balance one another and the unchecked extra-judicial killings and acts of gross malfeasance are a direct result of that failure.
The executive has failed to lead as exemplified by a leader who constantly and consistently passes the buck – to the judiciary.
The court system for its part has lost all credibility because members of its highest office – the Supreme Court – have been accused of accepting bribes.
The legislature, one of the world’s highest paid, has repeatedly demonstrated that its sole focus is the self-enrichment of its membership even as said membership bears witness to the squalid living conditions of those it asks to serve and protect society.
And a near-tipping point of a terrified society chorus the line: These thugs don’t negotiate with their victims….thus police should not negotiate with them”.
The end result of the foregoing dysfunction is a society where impunity reigns supreme and a near-critical mass of its members rationalize the extra-judicial actions of its law enforcement by citing the actions of suspected gang members; effectively justifying the illegal actions of a law enforcement “because the thugs also do it”.
Yes indeed. The crazies are running the asylum and now that they are coming for you, who is going to speak up – for you?