Thursday, January 18, 2007

KochFM team arrested in Kariobangi, Nairobi

Monday the 15th of January we were all out in Kariobangi having a farewellparty for Inger-Lill and me that were leaving the following morning. I just came back from the washrooms when I could see Toto, Oti, Roba and the rest of my dear friends standing up as if they were frozen. It was quiet, and when i turned my head, I could see we were all surrounded by between 10 and 20 policemen with kalashnikows. Inger-Lill had been ordered "Tourist, sit down", she whispered this to me as I was standing there with my eyes wide open, trying to understand what was happening. We were ordered to proceed to the door, and the owner approached me to pay the bill, so I payed and started walking to the door.

There I tried to talk to one of the policemen who were blocking the door. He seemed friendly, but suddenly some of the other policemen shouted "Out! On one line!" So we had to walk out on one line, where a huge policetruck was parked ready for loading with everybody inside the bar. Inger-Lill tried to talk to another policeman to get an explanation of why we were arrested and the answer she got was "because you are here!". So it seemed that we were not allowed to have a goodbyeparty in Kariobangi on a monday. I tried to explain to one of the guards that we were supposed to catch a plane 10:30 the day after, so if we got arrested, we would not be able to go home. And that we had our vehicle there at the parkinglot. But he didn´t seem to care much, so I asked who´s in charge, and he pointed out this guy without uniform, so I approached him, and I could see the fire in his eyes. I tried to explain to him, but the only thing he did was to shout "In the lorry now!" and he pushed me towards the lorry, so I had to climb in.

As I climbed in people were pushed and they actually fell stubling towards the lorry. A very good example of police brutality in Nairobi. Inger-Lill got some filthy policemanfingers touching her behind and some dirty swahili glossary were exchanged between the policemen. My first thought then was to get Inger-Lill safe inside the lorry, so I tried to reach my hand for helping her in, but someone dragged her back, and ordered me out.

I jumped back out and someone ordered us to get in our car and go. I told one of the policemen there are 2 more tourists inside the lorry, and asked if they could come, so they talked to our australian friends that refused to come. And if it wasen´t for our plane the morning after we would also had joined KochFMs first common arrest to the station to get to experience how this "system" actually treats their people.

Anyway Inger-Lill and I went back to town shivering in anger over how the police can claim to treat people like this. The police is as far as I see it the biggest threat to the security in Nairobi. The Nairobi Police are brutal, corrupt, patheticly powerful, male chauvinist and racist. I´m glad our friends got back home in one piece on tuesday after being humiliated like if they were animals without human rights.

This was a violation against the human rights to a group fighting to gain them in the city of Nairobi. We shall overcome. This is what we are fighting for! Long live KochFM!


cathrine said...

just want to say that this is an absurd story, and that i hope everyone is allright. someone should teach the kenyan police about human rights or just put them all in jail and put the koch-people in charge of the peoples safety:)

KochFM said...

its was crazy being in the pub that night. We had been all day planning our theatre workshops and KochFm strategy at the World Social Forum. With the energy that was flowing in the room, the dancing and the conversation, the last thing we expected is for the police to show up!

They did and what a disgrace, at first they charged us with being in the bar "after hours", which was fictitious since then what they would have done is to arrest the owner of the pub for running an illegal business. But since they were brandishing guns and they outnumbered us there was no possibility of upstaging the. So we assembled in one line and were shoved into a waiting police truck already packed with other Kenyans whose main crime appeared to be out at night that particular hour

Our friends Rich and IL were not arrested simply because they were leaving the next morning and also because the Kenyan police force still operates as a colonial force that dispenses justice on the basis of colour. We were also in the company of an Ausralian and British citizens who defied the orders to remain and instead chose to go with us to jail, it was an experience for them.

In the lorry we had the most ridiculous stories of why some of the people in the truck were arrested, we would have laughed only that we knew too well that the next morning the police would fanricate charge aginst them, they have done it before and will keep doing it untill the day when we the poeple shall educate them otherwise.

Take for instance there was a lady who had kerosine and salt, she was in the middle of making dinner for her daughter when she realised that she was running low on fuel and salt, and so she left the food cooking on the stove and went to buy more supplies only to walk into the police trap. Her please were unheard and she was bundled into the car, while in the car she kept wondering if her house had caught fire and who would explain her abscence to the little child, who would close the door and put the baby to sleep or take her to kindergaten then next morning. Well we joined her and joined the chorus of how innocent we were.

Some of the people in our group started to get political and sung songs and started engaging the police, pointing out that they were going about their duties the wrong way, others started insulting the police and thats how we spent time in the truck.

Finally we arrived at Buru Buru police station and were put into the holding space after being told to leave all our valuables and one pair of shoe outside.

We have no trust for the police so we decided to give our valuables to comrade Nyash we had argued his way out since like IL and Rich he was travelling the next morning to Sudan.

The entry into the cell was dramatic, by rule the older and more seasoned inmates buly and beat newcommers( a case of horizontal violnce I think), so we decided to go in one lot and ready to fight anyone who would attemp to buly us. So when the door was opened we came in puffing and charged and the guys inside realizd we came from Koch and the sitation changed and we were wellcomed to the VIP, where the privilledge is that you could sleep seated! the other people were huddled in the corridor with people literary pilling over.

Our collegue from Asutralia was visibly distressed and he kept standing from time to time. As we were inside the cells we heard the police beat up a person and he cried all night. Also inside the inamtes would beat anyone who came and make them wash toilet.

After 11 hours it was morning time and we were taken out to have tea. then they started processing people, 3 of our friends were taken to court and charged with being drunk and disorderly, 4 others were made to cut grass and clean the police quatres and the rest of us were realeased without any specific charge

Its a scandal a a great human right violaion that the police can treat us like that, what they seem to be using is a piece of ledislation that should now be repealed-public order act that was introduced in Kenya around 1952 at the height of unrest where police had sweeping powers to disrup gatherings and charge people in a bid to intimidate and subvert the mau mau. But like the times of mau mau oppression and repression will not break the people, their resentment is what grows.

Am totally appalled by the manner of the police that night and am aware that its not an isolated incident. It has been alleged that the police do the swoops in the hope that they will nab criminals and also in the hope that they will get bribed

So now am back in Australia wondering why I should feel safe in a foreign counntry and scared of my mother land.

But for sure no one is safe untill we are all safe and as such the people of Koch and the community should work together to change the attitude of the police and as the international community we can join in those efforts.

We must turn the Kenyan police force into a service like what it is here in Australia and other countiries.

My greatest thanks to Rich and Il and the people of Koch for giving us that opportunity to share into their daily lives, life full of struggles and also success for the youths have shpwn that despite the massive human rights violations they are addressing the issues

KochFm taking ova