NAIROBI, June 26 – Police tear gassed a group of human rights defenders who converged in Nairobi Thursday to mark the International Day against Torture on Thursday.
The demonstrators were dispersed as they marched to Nyayo House which once housed the infamous torture chambers in the previous regimes.
"Ours was a peaceful demonstration to mark the international day, we do not understand why they (police) are dispersing us violently," protested Kamau King’ara, the Executive Director of Oscar Foundation which was among demonstrating lobby groups.
Police violently broke the demonstration and arrested scores of people who were briefly held at the Central Police station and later released.
They had converged at KenCom bus terminus from where they intended to march through to Nyayo House.
Officers, led by Nairobi Central divisional Police chief Tito Kilonzi, first warned the group to disperse peacefully but when they defied, he ordered his officers to use teargas.
"We were fair to them because we gave them a chance to disperse. We only used force when they defied my orders," he said.
Police said no casualties were reported during the midmorning chaos.
In an interview with Capital News late Thursday, King’ara said they intended to petition the government to open up the Nyayo House torture chambers to the public.
"We want the chambers opened to the public and made to be a monument of shame," he said.
The Chambers are located on the basement floors of Nyayo House where many victims have claimed they were repeatedly tortured in past years.
Many of them, who were considered to be political dissidents, were either arrested or abducted by state operatives before they were locked in the chambers for interrogations.