Saturday, August 14, 2004

KDP Calls for Kenyan Civil Society Groups to Lead Parallel Investigation into Ngugi Assault

For Immediate Release

Montreal, Saturday, August 14, 2004

The Kenya Democracy Project, a network of social justice activists in Canada, Sweden, Norway and Kenya is calling on Kenya Human Rights Commission, People Against Torture, Release Political Prisoners, , Mulika Communications, the Kimathi Movement, Citizens for Justice, CREDO, FIDA, LSK, FEMNET, Coalition of Violence Against Women, ICJ, and as many other Kenyan civil society groups to coordinate a parallel effort to unearth the truth about what motivated and who masterminded the recent brutal and violent attacks on renowned Kenyan novelist, playwright, essayist and political activist Ngugi wa Thiongo and his life partner,Njeeri.

The Kenya Democracy Project expresses its deep empathy, its sense of shared sorrow and its continued solidarity with the Ngugis and makes plain its utter and profound outrage at this heinous act.

We commend the efforts of the various investigating units of the Kenya Police which, going by the press reports, appears to be making rapid progress.

In this connection, The Kenya Democracy Project would like to publicly laud the courageous role played by the country’s media in providing frequent, fair and forthright reportage on this harrowing and sensitive issue and not flinching from asking the hard questions.

It is the position of the Kenya Democracy Project that the attack on the Ngugis raises more questions than it answers.

Comments attributed to Prof. Ngugi wa Thiongo would appear to indicate that the alleged assailants planned this ambush in a very premeditated fashion. The odd behaviour of the now incarcerated guards may or may not implicate them in the criminal activity itself. What would be equally intriguing would be to find out at whose behest if any these guards may or may not have been acting.

The Kenya Democracy Project is disturbed upon reading media accounts that suggest a longer than necessary delay on the part of the police in getting to the scene of the crime. At the same time, we are perplexed by the fact that the police arrived on the scene unbidden because neither of the victims nor any of the personnel present contacted the authorities directly to report the incident.

We are further perturbed by several other mystifying circumstances.

The Kenya Democracy Project finds it hard to believe that the cigarette torture session was the work of ordinary hoodlums-it has all the hallmarks of a secret police interrogation and the series of unspeakable humiliations that Ngugi and Njeeri were forced to undergo evoke Abu Ghraib more readily than the exploits of the infamous 42 Brothers.

The Kenya Democracy Project would like to acknowledge and incorporate the following critical perspectives shared by a very knowledgeable and long time observer of the Kenyan political scene:

The State in Kenya has the great onus to exonerate itself from the very strong suspicions by Kenyans of government complicity in the Ngugi asssault. The sordid project was most professionally-planned. It was so impeccably executed that any reasonable person would have difficulties believing that an institution exists in today's decrepit Kenya able to intrude so effortlessly into a fortress compound, cover up their fence-cutting tracks so carelessly, take their sweet time at a crime scene as if sure that no force on earth would dare rescue the victims, plant critical fake alibis and questions ("..member of Mungiki...?"). All this cockiness betrays a degree of high-level police protection which Kenyans need to drill-down to
expose. It has the strong stench of state complicity. By State one need not always mean a monolithic government machinery. It is enough that one or two wings are involved (clandestinely or otherwise) in a campaign they have designed or a practice they have always assumed to be normal. No matter, it is still the larger State which must account for wings of their system and take entire responsibility publicly.

Let us note that the fledgling, warring political wing of the State is disunited and weak. It has multiple tendencies. Could some factions be accomplices in the crime?

Let the State come forth cleanly and prove to Kenyans not.

Fractious as they are, the various NARC party fragments would readily agree on one thing. They, as a new putatively reformist, initially "anti-Kanu" coalition, have minimal control of the real bulk of the administration machinery the inherited last year. The middle management of government remains preponderantly under Kanu/Moi cronies. These elements have always had zero respect for change and love it when NARC looks dumb and incompetent - a not a very difficult mission. Moreover there is
little difference in content between old Kanu and NARC and the members flip-flopping across party lines, in and out of cabinet etc., since there is no credible difference nor a boundary of convictions and principle between the parties.

In brief, therefore, below is the growing conviction among Kenyans and their friends around the globe - a strong suspicion which the government must needs-be refute urgently. They must do so with clear evidence and action:

There clearly exists dangerous elements in the current Police force who along with old Kanu-Moyist (the "y" is an addition to indicate the Man as distinct from moist-wetness). These elements as a cohesive group employ all State means readily at their disposal to commit terror/intimidation even murder, to create elaborate fake alibis as cover-up, to manufacture deceit for the media and the public, and eventually help scuttle investigations. Thus have countless brazen disappearances and violent thefts gone unpunished, unexplained. Using state wherewithal they hire,
arm and protect brutal criminals then arrest innocent citizens as the fall guys.

Further, serious questions arise as to what these hydra-like Mungiki factions, so often and quickly invoked by senior police bosses as if on cue. Instant culprits with alibis cunningly planted at the crime scene. King'ori’s same-day judgment and utterances to the press betray an investigative efficiency uncharacteristic of his force. Very serious questions arise indeed. One suspects a dummy catch-all bogey-man created as cover for an official commando brigade of officially sanctioned killers.

The truth for the Narc coalition, or what remains of its ideals of last year, may be that there exists a parallel, night government by police and old Kanu, a fifth column within the State, that connives hard during the day and wreaks terror and murder after sundown and employs hired goons or night-riders when necessary.

These are sufficiently serious accusations. They warrant immediate and thorough public investigations. As said earlier, the onus is on the larger State to allay the growing fear and prove otherwise to Kenyans and the world. Sadly, Kenyans are once again afraid of the night and the State just as they were in 1952, in 1974 and throughout Moi's reign. Ngugi may have been the victim of a very confident section of government, political or administrative that refuses to accept that the past is gone and a new day can dawn. It is too easy to blame hotel security or arresting several hapless guards and a muzzled dog, and then present us as usual with a trail gone cold. It is the inevitable perception of the majority that the slickness of the Ngugi assault was undertaken under some assured official cover of some high-level kind.

The onus is on the system to exonerate itself the soonest possible and in no uncertain terms.

The Kenya Democracy Project IS NOT ruling out state complicity in this assault and that is why we feel it is important that human rights organizations with a proven track record in monitoring abuses, tortures and other anomalies must immediately embark on bringing to light aspects of the case that may be vulnerable to State cover up.

These Kenyan human rights and progressive civil society groups should commission their own public hearings to this scandal of a fifth column within government that can only get worse if left unchallenged. Only thus can public worries and perceptions about the motives for Ngugi's assault be laid to rest while using the incident to exorcise old Moi and Kanu demons still in positions of power.

We are convinced that these efforts will bear even more profit if this parallel investigation complements rather than undermines the official police investigation.

We call on the aforesaid civil society formations to work closely with all sections of the country’s print and electronic media.

In the gathering of facts, tact should be duly exercised to defend the constitutional and other legal rights of individuals who may or may not find themselves under increasing scrutiny.

One particular aspect that the Kenya Democracy Project would like to appeal to our civil society friends to look into are allegations of the possible existence of a “Third Force” that operated with such sinister precision in South Africa in the early 1990s.

Over and above these advocacy considerations, the Kenya Democracy Project is calling on civil society formations, especially People Against Torture and the Coalition on Violence Against Women to look into the modalities of providing concrete material, emotional, psychological and professional support to the Ngugis to enable them to overcome the shock and trauma of the violent assault.

Even as we do all this, we urge representatives of the Kenyan government to continue providing regular updates and ensure that it is seen to be pursuing the course of justice diligently, transparently and fairly.

In closing, we would also like to issue a call to Ngugi’s long time friends from around the world like PEN, the Pan African Movement, Amnesty International, progressive academics, writers, artists, activists and colleagues to use all diplomatic, bureaucratic, official and non-official avenues working assiduously to ensure that not only should the two victims recover swiftly and completely but that the organizers and masterminds of the assault and not just the hirelings are brought to justice where they are held responsible to the full extent of the law.

Statement Signed by

Adongo Ogony, Co-Convener, Kenya Democracy Project
Onyango Oloo, Secretary, Kenya Democracy Project

Saturday, August 14, 2004
4:56 am EST

No comments: