Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Who cries for our internal refugees?

Did Kiraitu Murungi really finish a Masters Degree at Harvard Law School? His recent statements in support of the Hague six point to a serious lack of legal analysis. In this he is joined, quite unfortunately, by the likes of Ephraim Maina and that windbag-for-hire, Joshua Kutuny. President Kibaki has already set the tone - wait for the Hague to summon them, then begin to worry. The Central and North Rift MPs who are fulminating about the 'politicised nature of the ICC process' have put the cart before the horse. If the Six are indeed indicted, what will be the political fallout - that seems to be the thinking behind the 'we will offer them material and moral support' line that Kiraitu has been peddling for all his worth.

In 2007 and 2008, thousands of Kenyans were murdered in their homes. Thousands of women and children were violently raped, especially by policemen acting either on their own basest instincts or on the orders of the Head of the Civil Service and the Commissioner of Police. Mr. Justice Philip Waki and his Commission of Inquiry, documented the allegations and accusations with as much humility as the situation demanded and when they were drafting their report, they just knew that they could not let the matter lie with a set of recommendations. So they drew up a secret list of 20, handed a sealed envelope to the former Secretary General of the United Nations and asked him to hand it over to the prosecutor of the ICC if the Government of Kenya failed to set up an independent, credible and impartial mechanism to investigate the allegations and accusations made against the twenty, and where possible, try them for crimes committed during the pogrom.
 
As usual, the politicians refused to acknowledge that the country needed a clean break with the impunity of the past 30 years. Instead of heeding the good judge's recommendation, they thumped their chests and declared that the National Accord and Reconciliation Act had washed away all their sins and that the country was well and truly back on the road to democratic normalcy. The Minister for Justice, first Martha Karua and later Mutula Kilonzo, tried to warn these honourable men and women that if they failed to establish such a tribunal on home ground, the ICC would do it for them in The Hague. They were ignored and one Isaac Ruto came out forcefully - Let us not be vague; let s go to The Hague. William Ruto scoffed that it would take the ICC up to 2090 to investigate the Kenya Problem and that by then many of the perpetrators and victims would be dead. In a cruel twist of fate, the ICC prosecutor has acted with more alacrity than any of them anticipated, occasioning Kiraitu's rather self-serving declaration.

Now all manner of legal professionals have joined the fray, warning that regardless of whether Kenya withdraws from the Rome Statute or not, the process cannot be stopped. The Prime Minister has promised the National Assembly that the government is studying all options, including applying to the United Nations Security Council for a deferral in the matter. In all these political and legal maneuverings, we have all conspired to forget the fates of those who were murdered, raped, maimed and their properties confiscated unlawfully, destroyed or scattered to the four winds. The millions that the politicians seek to collect for their 'heroes' - as one politician called the Six - will not benefit the country one jot. Their exhortations that Kenya is a sovereign state do not wash. When Kenya was burning, they were comfortable in ceding sovereignty to the Panel of Eminent African Personalities led by the able Kofi Annan and the former First Lady of Mozambique and South Africa, Graca Machel.

The political and professional elites of Kenya have learnt to live with the inequity between the rich and the poor. After all, we feel, as the Speaker so eloquently put it, sufficiently magnanimous to pay a poor woman from the slums of Nairobi a pittance to clean our houses or her husband to stand guard every night over our properties. We take carnal advantage of them when they serve us our beers in the nightclubs, bars and 'gentlemen's clubs' that now proliferate our formerly fair city. We run them over in our Vitzes, Prados and Mercedes-Benzes and we do not bat an eyelid when our insurance companies refuse to compensate them or their families. Today we are prepared to sacrifice the hundreds of thousands living in deplorable, dehumanising conditions in what we euphemistically refer to as IDP camps. They are refugee camps, dear readers, and they are the closest to hell a person can get without dying. Unless they reside, courtesy of their government, in cholera-stricken 'GK' prisons. In their political contests, politicians of all shades and stripes have used the plight of these unfortunate men, women and children to raise tens of millions which our refugees are yet to see. The Minister of State for Special Programmes in the Office of the President, first Naomi Shaaban and now Esther Murugi, have treated these people shamefully.

It used to be that Christmas was the time for public charity. The Mayor of Nairobi had his Christmas Tree Fund. Other charitable organisations also had their 'funds' for the upkeep and maintenance of the less fortunate members of the society, the so-called poorest of the poor. This year, it seems the poorest of the poor will play second-fiddle, again, to the well-heeled and well-connected. Our refugees will spend a desolate Christmas in their camps. Their children will watch with envy and rage as the children of the middle-classes and the political elites spend their Christmas in the holiday spots of the nation, eating and drinking and partying to their hearts content. I have warned that if there is violence in 2012 it will not be by one ethnic community against another, but about the oppressed youth against an unfeeling, uncaring, perfidious government. Mr. Kiraitu Murungi is yet to learn the proper lessons of 2007/08. The children living in the refugee camps will remind him in no mean fashion when he and his ilk come trolling for votes. These people must be compensated and resettled if this country is to hold its head high again. The fates of the Ocampo Six are not important; those of the refugees are.

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