Friday, July 11, 2008

Brig. Ali Testifies at the Waki Commission

Testifying before the Waki Commission looking into the post-election violence, Commissioner of Police Brigadier Hussein Ali stated his belief that the police never encountered a single peaceful demonstration, denied that they had effectively banned all political gatherings and accused Kenyans of being interested only in rights and not responsibilities. He said his officers had not used unwarranted or excessive force in putting down the riots and demos except for the single "unfortunate" incident in Kisumu where two protesters were shot in cold blood.

Many of us who were not locked up in ivory towers, smoking whatever it is our public officials smoke, will beg to differ. I distinctly remember scenes of bullet-ridden bodies lying in the Nairobi Mortuary, police breaking down doors and beating up innocent residents in Kibera. I recall allegations of rape and wanton murder levelled by people against GSU officers. Pictures of CNN's Zain Verjee being hit by a teargas canister as she reported on the barricading of Uhuru Park to stop ODM rallies remain vivid in my mind as do recollections of the teargassing of attempted peaceful marches by an ODM women's group and another led by Nobel Laureate Prof. Wangari Maathai. Of course, this footage did not make it into his presentation.

Another interesting feature of his testimony was the attempt to downplay the severity of the chaos. According to him, only 600 people were killed and 200,000 displaced. He also seemed to heap praise on his officers for managing to prosecute all of 168 cases related to the violence out of over 13,000 cases investigated. Oh, and he also believes that the violence was a spontaneous reaction to the announcing of the Presidential results and was neither organised nor pre-meditated, which flies in the face of all available evidence and common sense.

At this rate, is it any wonder that impunity is the order of the day in Kenya?

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