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The results of the December 2007 Kenyan election are contested, and have resulted in significant political conflict in Kenya that has become divided on ethnic lines. There has been widespread violence in different parts of Kenya, including parts of Nairobi, Nyanza Province, Western Province, the Rift Valley and Coast Province. The violence was largely instigated by supporters of the opposition party, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), who believed the presidential election had been rigged in favor of President Kibaki. There were reports of excessive use of force by the police against protesters, including protesters being shot dead.
There have been many attacks on Kikuyu people, often with machetes, stones, clubs, and bows and arrows. The Kikuyu are largely perceived to have supported President Kibaki, while the Luo and Kalenjin are thought to have supported the opposition candidate, Raila Odinga. Recently the number of retaliatory attacks by Kikuyu gangs on Luo and Kalenjin people has increased.
All except one of the human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists who were threatened are of Kikuyu ethnicity. The threats they have received include accusations that they are “traitors” to their ethnicity, because they have spoken out about what they believe to have been irregularities in the election result, or about human rights abuses committed by the police and armed gangs, including gangs of Kikuyu people, throughout the country.
Four of the human rights defenders and activists are also named in an anonymously authored pamphlet that has been circulating within the Kikuyu community in Kenya by print and email in recent days. The pamphlet includes the four as part of a list of more 25 people of Kikuyu origin, who it calls “traitors (who) live among us in peace”, and included a veiled threat that they should be killed.
Over 600 people have been killed in Kenya’s post-election violence, and the UN has stated that over 250,000 people have been displaced from their homes. Thousands have crossed into Uganda and Tanzania as refugees.