Violence must be punished, says Raila

February 14, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 14 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has now instructed the Attorney General to initiate a public inquest into the Wagalla massacre, some 27 years after the incident occurred.

The Premier who was speaking in Wajir pointed out that the inquiry would help unearth the reasons behind the mass murders as well as ensure the perpetrators were held to account.

He said persistent impunity in the country had seen many crimes go unpunished adding that those behind the post election violence should also be brought to book.

"Those who planned and executed violence during the last election must be punished; even if I am one of them or else such people could cause worse chaos in 2012," he said.

He also renewed his stand and resolve for the full implementation of the Constitution arguing that it would promote accountability and ensure Kenyans\’ rights were upheld.

Mr Odinga also directed the ministries of National Heritage, Northern Kenya and Education to construct a school and a museum in Wajir in memory of the blood bath. He added that the Wagalla massacre was an undisputed act of impunity in the country.

"Yet it is from that sorrow and many others that have befallen this land before that a great resolve developed; the resolve to work towards a Kenya ruled by law; where leaders are held responsible for the actions they commit and the directives that they give," he added.

"We must bring an end to the state that thrives on cruelty and impunity, a state that is fed not weakened by the tears and pains of the citizens," he asserted.

He added that the consistent demands on leaders, by Kenyans, would ensure that they lived up to the requirements of the Constitution.

"That includes ensuring that those taking leadership and public positions meet the criteria set out in that constitution with regard to integrity and leadership," he said.

The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) also joined the Premier and residents of Wagalla in commemorating the event. Others present were Northern Kenya Development Minister Mohammed Elmi, Lands minister James Orengo, Energy Assistant minister Mahamud Maalim, Mandera Central MP Abdikadir Mohamed among others.

The TJRC was represented by Commissioners Ron Slye and Margaret Shava.

Prof Slye disclosed that several residents had already recorded their statements with the commission, in regard to the massacre, and promised to give them some reprieve.

"I want to assure you that the TJRC has already undertaken research and investigations on the various issues facing this region. Our task is not to look at these violations in isolation, but to show the relationships among them; in other words the links between economic marginalization, discrimination, and state violence," he said. 

Prof Slye also noted that the massacre was recognised as the worst human rights violation in Kenya.

"While we recognise the enormity of the Wagalla massacre we also recognise that it is one of many massacres which are just one of many forms of injustice.  And yet it is those earlier massacres, left unpunished, and that discrimination and economic marginalization that formed the basis for the Wagalla Massacre," he said.

"And it is the Wagalla Massacre that laid the foundation for the many human rights violations that followed, including the post-election violence," Prof. Slye added.

Residents remember the massacre of more than 5,000 men from the Degodia clan reportedly killed by security forces during the Degodia/Ajuran clashes of the 70s and 80s.

At the Wagalla airstrip where many are said to have been shot and tortured, victims lamented that the state had not acknowledged the massacre in 27 years.

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