From George Nyongesa (Bunge La Mwananchi)
Dear Kenyans and friends of Kenya,
At 9 am this morning (Sunday, 22nd February 2009), Gacheke Gachihi - a Bunge la Mwananchi network leader in Huruma - along with 20 other youth, were arbitrarily arrested while they were having tea in a food kiosk known as “Kwa Rasta” in Nairobi’s Kiamaiko area (famous for its goat market). In addition to these, the kiosk’s owner, Joel Kimani and several more people who were outside the kiosk were likewise arrested and the whole group was taken off to a field in Mathare North. 3 women, including one identified as Mary Wanja, whose family members were amongst those arrested, followed the group and were also taken into custody by the police.
I received a phone call from another Bunge la Mwananchi member alerting me to this news at around 10 am and we have spent the whole morning trying to trace the people arrested. Visits to the Huruma police post, Kasarani police station, area central police station and Buruburu police station proved futile as the group had not been taken to any of these police stations. Finally, the group arrived at Muthaiga police station at around 1.45 pm where they are now in the process of being booked.
Although we are being denied the chance to speak with them, it is apparent that they have not been told the reason for their arrest. It appears that when the 3 concerned women had traced the group to the field and were arrested, the police then bundled them all into a police lorry that drove off and parked by the side of the road in an unknown area instead of driving to any police station. They were held in the lorry until they were brought to the Muthaiga police station. We have not been able to establish how they have been treated by the police since they were arrested, but even the delay in booking them after arrest is cause for foreboding.
At this time when the UN is investigating extra judicial killings in Kenya, it is important to point out that today’s arrests bear very similar trademarks to arrests that have previously resulted in unexplained citizens’ disappearances and deaths. Indeed, the area from which the group was picked up is an area of Nairobi in which young people are routinely picked up by police, their activities criminalised and this is followed by their sudden disappearances from police custody only to show up dead in unexplained circumstances.
This is an appeal for civic vigilance and solidarity with those arrested. We wish to highlight this as one of many evidentiary incidents of the constant threat that Bunge la Mwananchi members are subjected to by oppressive government machinery – the police. We call upon you for your support in any of the following areas:
1. Please spread the word of this latest police harassment.
2. We invite you to write to or call anyone who you think should know and can do something about this.
3. Write to the President, the Prime Minister, the Minister for Internal Security and the Commissioner of Police to demand a reason for this obvious infringement of people’s constitutional human rights by the police.Click HERE for email addresses and phone nos.
4. Lobby for the immediate release of all those arrested.
5. Even as we continue to follow up, we anticipate that we will require legal assistance and will be grateful for anyone with legal expertise to immediately join us at the Muthaiga police station.
6. We may also require financial support in bailing out those arrested.
Bunge la Mwananchi wishes to reiterate that we mean business by organising and mobilising Kenyans to free themselves from failed leadership. We refuse to and will not be intimidated by these ominous arrests and will not be deterred by police harassment.