Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Urgent Appeal to the Kidnappers of the Kenyan Hostages Sent Via the Arab Language Media

-----Original Message-----
From: onyango oloo
Sent: Tuesday, August 03, 2004 3:26 AM
To: 'contact@alarabiya.net'; 'rana@albawaba.com'; 'info@allied-media.com'
Cc: 'Sheikh Ahmad Kassim'; 'Sami Hindi'; 'Human Rights Network Koibatek'; 'A A Nasser'; 'Abdulatif Essajee'; 'Abdulghafoor Ganatra'; 'Abubakar'; 'Abubakar Yusuf'; 'Africa Muslim Agency'; 'Ahmed Abdallah'; 'Ahmed Aboud Hadi'; 'Ahmed Nassir'; 'Akif H. Butt'; 'Al - Muntada'; 'Al-Momin Foundation'; 'Amina Bashir'; 'Ayub Khalid'; 'Batuli Wazir'; 'Council of Imams & Preachers'; 'Dr Majid Warshow'; 'Farouk Adam'; 'Fathiya Mwai'; 'Fatma Mwinyi'; 'Hassan Mwakimako'; 'Idrees Khalid'; 'Islamic Training Teachers College'; 'Jami Iyatu Taalimil Qur'an'; 'Jamia Mosque'; 'Jamila Mohammed'; 'Jonnie'; 'Madrasa Resource Centre'; 'Mahat'; 'MEWA Secretariat'; 'Mohamed Eltaff'; 'Mohamed Nyaoga'; 'Mohammed Karama'; 'muguluma hamed'; 'Muhammad Mayanja'; 'MUJAHID'; 'Munir Chaudhry'; 'Munir Mazrui'; 'Murtaza Jaffer'; 'Murtaza Jaffer'; 'Muslims For Human Rights'; 'Mwinyi Mvita Ali'; 'Mwinyifaki'; 'Naim Hyder'; 'Najib Balala'; 'Nothern Aid'; 'Omar'; 'Omar'; 'Omar Amin'; 'Omar Dawood Kalinge'; 'Prof Juma Lugogo'; 'Prof Saad & Dr. Swazuri'; 'Prof. A. A. Aboud'; 'Prof. Abdulaziz'; 'Prof. Elbusaidy'; 'Prof. Jama'; 'Prof. Rajab'; 'Rabitat'; 'Rama'; 'Said Athman'; 'Said Chitembwe'; 'Saifu Madhani'; 'Sayyidna Fatima Hospital'; 'Sheikh Khalifa'; 'sofia.mavumba-chanzu@dfait-maeci.gc.ca'; 'Sumiyya Athmani'; 'Swaleh Kanyeki & Co. Advocates'; 'Tawasal Institute'; 'Willy Mutunga'; 'Word Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY)'; 'Zool Nimji'; 'Abdullah Al- Misfer'; 'FAD'; 'Hussein'; 'Haron M Ndubi'; 'NCEC'; 'MEDICO'; 'Antony Njue'; 'Alfred Kibunja'; 'Ababu Namwamba'; 'AAK'; 'The Summit'; 'Beatrice Kuria'; 'Peter Kiama'; 'Mutuma Reteere'; 'Mikewa Ogada'; 'steve ouma'; 'Samuel Mohochi'; 'Beth Mwanthie'; 'Maxi Wekesa'; 'nmwaura'; 'vmusebe'; 'fida-keny'; 'Fida'; 'rpp'; 'patorture'; 'jgitobi@winrock.org'; 'Samri'
Subject: URGENT APPEAL to the Kidnappers of the Kenyan Hostages in Iraq

This is an appeal for the release of the Kenyan hostages in Iraq. Please circulate as widely as possible. If you need to respond, please do so using the kenyademocracyproject@hotmail.com address. Let us know if you experience any difficulties accessing the link and we will work out some plain text alternatives.

From Onyango Oloo, Secretary, Kenya Democracy Project
Tuesday, August 03, 2004



Al Jazeera,

Al Arabiya,

Al Ahram

Al Bawaba

The Daily Star

Dar al Hayat

Al Watan

Allied Media,

and other Arab Language Media Outlets


My name is Onyango Oloo and I am the Secretary of Kenya Democracy Project, a network of Kenyan social justice activists in Canada, Sweden, Norway, Kenya and other parts of the world.

I am writing to your respective media houses hoping to convey, through your outlets, an urgent humanitarian appeal to the group that is holding the seven hostages in Iraq.

On behalf of all Kenyan people, we plead with the kidnappers to release ALL of the hostages.

Of course as a Kenyan, my immediate thoughts are with those three Kenyans whose capture has left a whole African nation embroiled in worry and tormented by apprehension.

Some of us have been spending near sleepless nights tracking all the latest news regarding this precarious situation:

click here

click here

click here

For a very brief moment, in the course of the last day or so, we sighed heavily with joyous relief, together with the families of the hostages, when our own Foreign Affairs minister, Ali Chirau Mwakwere announced that the hostages had in fact been released:

We quickly realized to our shock and traumatic despair that this was a cruel hoax perpetrated by our own government leaving us not only embarrassed as Kenyans in the entire world, but even more worried about what this rash statement from the Kenyan government may mean for the safety of those seven individuals whose lives continue to hang in the balance:

click here

Initially, since our government was ostensibly actively pursuing this matter, the Kenya Democracy Project felt that it was important to take the lead from Minister Ali Mwakwere and his team of diplomats in the region, to stay in the background and allow the Kenyan government to use the appropriate diplomatic and international channels that are often used in such delicate matters.

Our confidence was buoyed by the fact that our current Foreign Affairs was not only a former diplomat himself, but is, in addition, a practicing Muslim who would exercise tact and sensitivity in dealing with fellow Muslims to negotiate the safe release of other fellow Muslims in the custody of fellow Muslims.

Clearly, our high esteem in Mr Mwakwere’s negotiating abilities may turn out to have been slightly exaggerated and even totally misplaced.

We would like to assure the group that is holding our compatriots that the Kenyan people bear no grudge against the Iraqi people.

By and large, the Kenyan people opposed the invasion and occupation of Iraq by the United States, Britain and her allies, a blatant act of racist aggression that was deemed to be illegal and unleashed in defiance of a massive global mobilization against a war declared arbitrarily on a sovereign member of the United Nations.

Kenyan Muslims were at the core of several well-attended public demonstrations in the streets of Nairobi and Mombasa to oppose that war.

Here are some images that you may want to share with your respective audiences:

Our own organization has participated actively in the anti-war movement locally and internationally.

I now want to talk about

Ibrahim Khamis, Jalal Mohammed Awadhi and Faiz Khamis Salim and their hometown of Mombasa.

While I have never met Khamis, Awadhi and Faiz personally, I feel as if I have known them all my life.

I am in the same age bracket as Ibrahim Khamis and I grew up in Mombasa as well. Who knows if Ibrahim grew up three streets away from my father’s house on Mombasa Island? Perhaps we swam in the very same marine blue spot in the Indian Ocean near the famous Fort Jesus Museum. We certainly attended the same annual Idd ul Fitr fete held at the Makadara grounds behind the General Post Office.

I am not a Muslim, but all of us Kenyans who grew up in Mombasa saw each other as brothers and sisters regardless of religion, race, tribe and creed. Walking down the streets of Mombasa you could hear Arabic and Gujarati spoken, that is when you are not being greeted in Kiswahili or any of the many Kenyan languages spoken in this ancient, history drenched town.

That is why, as I appeal to you today, I am appealing for the release and safe return of people I rightly consider to be my brothers, my neighbours and my very own flesh and blood.

When I see their families distraught and weeping, as in the pictures below

I am seeing my own in laws, my own nieces and my own nephews.

I would like to convey to the group holding the hostages a simple truth:

Kenyans who go to the Middle East to work bear no malice against the people of the region. Our compatriots are driven by a simple determination to try and earn an honest living in order to support their struggling families back home in Kenya. That is the primary reason that will make them risk their lives to drive into a dangerous war zone-not because they harbour any hostility towards the Iraqi people, but rather because their employers have assigned them that route.

Reading the Kenyan papers earlier this evening, it would appear that the Kenyan drivers may have been forced to drive to Iraq by their Kuwaiti employer against their own expressed wishes. I will reproduce this story from the Nairobi based Daily Nation:

click here

Publication Date: 8/3/2004

“A Kenyan truck driver for the Kuwait and Gulf Link Company (KGL) escaped and arrived home in Mombasa on Sunday afternoon.

“Mr Adnan Said escaped after the company ordered seven drivers (six Kenyans and an Egyptian) to ferry supplies to Basra.

He said: "On July 27, we were asked to drive to Iraq with supplies. We protested that our fellow Kenyans were being held there but the company would not listen.

"As I speak to you now, 15 Kenyans are on strike in Kuwait, demanding their travel documents to come home. But the company will not listen."

Mr Said narrated his harrowing experience at KGL hands, saying it had confiscated the travel documents of all the more than 50 Kenyan drivers working for it.

“The US forces that escorted drivers to Iraq drove at high speeds while the company trucks' speeds are controlled.

“He said: "We basically drive on our own without security as the jeeps that escort us are mostly too far ahead and their drivers are scared of the militia roaming Iraq. They occasionally stop and abuse us, but there is nothing we can do as our speed is controlled."

“In an exclusive interview with the Nation, Mr Said, 30, said he managed to escape at Abdalyin, a border town between Kuwait and Iraq while on his way to Iraq after it became apparent to him that the company did not care about its drivers' welfare.

“He said: "Kenyans are KGL's favourites. They say that we understand and speak English so all assignments to the troubled country are given to us," he said.

“Mr Said, who looked weary, arrived at Mombasa's Moi International Airport at 3pm on Sunday on board an Oman airliner, which has scheduled direct flights to the town.

“The escapee said he agreed to travel to Iraq so he could be given his travel documents.

"It's only when you are traveling outside Kuwait that KGL can give you the passport, and I agreed to travel to Iraq in order to get my passport as I planned my escape," he said.

“On his arrival in Jahra, in the outskirts of Kuwait city, Kenyans working there organised an air ticket for him and he managed to fly out to Oman aboard Oman Air, and then on to Mombasa.

“Mr Said, who was recruited through a local agency, said he spent more than Sh60, 000 but was paid a Sh19, 000 a month salary, or about Sh15, 000 after taxation.

“Speaking at his Majengo home, Mr Said said six Kenyans were working for KGL now at Basra, distributing supplies. They are paid an additional Sh2,000 a day.

“Mr Said, who left Kenya last December 19, described the situation facing Kenyans as grave and appealed to the Government to compel KGL to return to them their travel documents.

“He said most of the Kenyans were living in shanty structures, in which a room was shared by 10 people.

“The soft-spoken Majengo resident told the Nation that two months ago, a Kenyan working for KGL was ambushed in Iraq, and his money and other personal effects were taken away.

“The company instead demanded that he travels back to Kenya to acquire another driving licence without giving him any travel allowances. The man he named as Abdalla from Kisauni is still stranded in Kuwait, as he cannot be employed by any other transport firm, Mr Said said.

“Holding his first-born child, Said, 6, Mr Said appealed to Kenyans to help drivers working for KGL to come home immediately, as their lives were in danger.

“Mr Said has another child, Ibrahim, 3. The two children held their father firmly as he narrated his ordeal.
His elder brother, Mr Abed Basala, called on parents and Kenyans to raise funds to bring the 15 Kenyans back home. “

From the story above, it would appear that Kenyans captured in Iraq while working for the KGL company have been hostages of the Kuwaiti company far longer than their current captivity in Iraq.

These are Kenyan workers who have been driven by difficult economic conditions at home to endure less than ideal conditions in Kuwait in order to support their families back in Mombasa.

The Kenya Democracy Project believes that these ordinary Kenyan workers held hostage together with the nationals of Egypt and India are NOT responsible for the sad plight currently afflicting the Iraqi people.

They truly belong back in Mombasa, reunited with their anxious wives, worried children, distraught relatives, concerned neighbours and bewildered compatriots.

That is why I once again appeal to the conscience, humanity and goodwill of the Iraqi group holding my three brothers to release them at your earliest convenience, along with the four other hostages from India and Egypt.

We look forward to the day that the Iraqi people will once again regain control of their own country and exercise their national independence in determining her own destiny.

I can assure you that when that day comes, Kenyans will be celebrating with the Iraqi people.

As Kenyans we know from first hand experience the reality of foreign domination.

We know from first hand experience the brutal force of racist military occupation.

We know from first hand experience the immediacy of imperialist exploitation of our people and our natural resources.

As Kenyans we know from first hand experience the yearning for freedom and democracy and the desire for peace, tranquility, national harmony, justice and democracy.

Kenyans, having undergone the colonial and neo-colonial experience, are the true friends and allies of the Iraqi people.

When an Iraqi child dies of malnutrition because of draconian sanctions, we Kenyans weep with you;

When an Iraqi father held prisoner at Abu Ghraib is stripped naked and sexually humiliated in front of his peers and neighbours, we, too are engulfed with shame, rage and embarrassment;

When a so called smart bomb does a stupid, horrible and disastrous thing like flatten an entire neighbourhood in Baghdad, we too wonder how many Iraqis are buried in the ensuing rubble;

When an Iraqi woman is molested by foreign troops we recall the dozens of Kenyan women who have been raped by marauding soldiers from the same country in our country;

We cringe when you cringe; we cry when you cry; we condole when you condole…

Because we know that in the future Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, Sudan or any other African country may be arbitrarily subjected to the same regime change illogic that is causing havoc in Iraq right now.

Let me end by repeating my earnest plea:

Please, I plead with you, Release Ibrahim Khamis
Please, I plead with you, Release Jalal Mohammed Awadhi
Please I plead with you, Release Faiz Khamis Salim

We await their return to Mombasa to the bosom of their loving families.

Please wipe away the tears of the Kenyan nation earnestly wishing for their emancipation.

Please stop their children from crying.

Please bring a beaming smile back to the faces of their scared wives.

Please stop their fathers from worrying and their mothers from weeping.

Release them


together with the other four hostages.


Onyango Oloo
Kenya Democracy Project

Writing from Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
1:18 am Eastern Standard Time