Saturday, May 3, 2014

Be humane in search for illegal aliens

Apologies for delayed posting. But here goes:

Be Humane in search for illegal weapons

By Lukoye Atwoli
Sunday Nation 20 April 2014

There is no doubt at all in my mind that there are terrorists in our midst, hell-bent on causing chaos and inflicting suffering on our fellow citizens. Multiple explosions and shootings bear out this view, and only a person who does not live in Kenya would argue that there is no terror activity going on here.

What is not clear, however, is who the terrorists are. Traditionally, and in other countries, a shadowy terrorist group is always at hand to claim credit for terror attacks. For instance, Al-Qaeda took responsibility for the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam. Similarly, Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi.

In the more recent attacks, it is curious that no group has claimed responsibility, even as we all blame Al-Shabaab. Be that as it may, we cannot take this terrorist activity lightly. Kenyans are paying a cadre of civil servants good money to sniff out the terrorists and ensure that the rest of us get a good night’s sleep without worrying about being attacked.

It is in this light that the government launched an operation to identify and deal with actual and potential terrorists living in our midst. The operation appeared to initially target Somalis in Eastleigh area of Nairobi and some suburbs in Mombasa. The police have since announced that the operation would spread to other regions of the country, and was aimed at catching criminals and foreigners residing in Kenya illegally.

Unfortunately, the perception that Somalis are being unfairly treated persists. At the beginning of the operation, social media was abuzz with activity. Most Somalis pointed out the absurdity of targeting a single community or religious group and meting out dehumanising treatment in the name of searching for terrorists. They gave heart-rending personal accounts of the treatment they or members of their families underwent in the hands of police. 


Many non-Somali Kenyans appeared to fully support the raids, and opined that it was a small sacrifice to pay for enhanced security. That was only until they also bore the full brunt of the operation. Writing from a middle-class neighbourhood in Nairobi, a friend detailed how she woke up in the wee hours of the night to loud noises and bangs at her gate and doors, thinking that the house was being robbed.

In a panic, she called her friends and acquaintances asking them to get help. She later realised that the attackers were not robbers, but policemen conducting an operation to flush out suspected terrorists. Like most of her neighbours, she did not let them into her house. The only neighbour who did had his house ransacked and all rooms turned upside down. By the time the policemen left, most people in this neighbourhood had a very dim view of the police operation.

Is it impossible for our police officers to be more civil in carrying out these operations? Is there no other way of identifying potential terrorists and criminals without causing so much suffering to innocent citizens? Is ethnic profiling the only way of ensuring our national security and enhancing cohesion? How long will these operations last, and how shall we measure their effectiveness?

These are just some of the questions we must deal with, even as we pursue these miscreants. 

Dr Atwoli is a consultant psychiatrist and senior lecturer at Moi University’s School of Medicine.

1 comment:

  1. Breaking news I read only at and sometimes it's fun. Today I found information about woman that get married naked and it's really shocked me. Look for all information in this page with photos.


Say something about this post!