NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 9 – A consortium of human right groups has faulted the government over the continued arbitrary arrests and detention of activists who question the government and demand accountability from it.
The activists drawn from the Kenya Human Rights Commission, Kenya Tuitakayo Movement, Defenders Coalition Kenya, Inuka Trust Kenya, Social Justice Working Group and Article 9 Eastern Africa have vowed not to be cowed amid the sustained repression from the state.
While citing the recent arrest of Edwin Kiama who has since been charged and is out on a Sh500, 000 cash bail over leading an online protest on Kenya’s increasingly growing appetite for foreign loans, Executive Director for Defenders Coalition Kenya Kamau Ngugi noted that activists will not relent in their quest to keep the government in check.
“We are extremely concerned by the new trend in which there is serious affront to peaceful protests or to hold the government to account and these restrictions are being imposed both online and offline. The Constitution has not been suspended and our rights are protected and it is for that reason that we will continue to protest,” he said on Friday.
Kiama is being investigated over the information he posted on his Twitter account on Monday warning the International Monetary Fund (IMF) not to advance loans Kenya.
Despite what they termed as “punitive cash bail” which was given to Kiama, the activists committed not to be silenced from pointing out what they described as “dehumanizing ideologies of totalitarian.”
“However, harsh state repression becomes, our acts of resistance will only grow stronger,” Ngugi said.
He challenged the Judiciary to protect the constitution.
“Whoever will be the incoming Chief Justice must protect the constitution and the institution. The government cannot limit our rights, they have to respect the fact that as individuals we are going to remain strong,” he said.
Kenya Human Rights Executive Director Davis Malombe urged Kenyans not to be intimidated by the state even as he decried that the “level of dictatorship under the Jubilee government had gone up”.
“We are going to keep on organizing and educating Kenyans to stand up for their rights and also to defend the constitution, there are no two ways about it,” he said.
According to the activists, 113 of their colleagues were arrested in 2020 for questioning the government on a myriad of issues while nine others were killed.