Police teargass Bunge la Mwananchi Jeevanjee meeting!
Dear Kenyans and friends of Kenya,
Bunge La Mwananchi’s Jeevanjee Gardens meeting ground was the scene of scuffles with the police yet again today, 11th July at 1.45pm.
Bunge La Mwananchi members had gathered for debates at their ussual meeting place in the park. Their discussion at that timewas about Witchcraft and Superstition.
The participation huge (could be estimated at 250) this maybe because of the amazing tales of witchcraft and superstition as different communities narrated their stories.
While members were engrossed in the debates and counter debates, the police officers from Central Police Stattion showed up an announced and ordered our members to disperse threatening to beat them.
Some of the people scampered for safety, but we urged our members not to obey that order. We told the police officers that we were not going to comply with their orders because it violates our civil liberties, our individual and constitutional rights. We told the police officer that Jeevanjee is park where Kenyans who cannot afford something to eat come to while away their lunchtime break before they go back to work. We also meet here to discuss matters that affect us individually and communally, and that is human right.
When it became apparent that we were not going obey their orders; the officer stepped aside and called for reinforcement. In a shortwhile the Officer in Charge of Station (OCS- Central) appeared with another contigent of 6 anti-riot police. They rained teargas in our meeting place dispersing everyone caught in the melee. They attempted to arrest Samson Ojiayo but on second thought they let him free ( FYI we have some parts these caught on camera).
When the tension had eased, after about 20mins, I approached the OCS to demand an explanation over their repeated attempt to restrict Bunge La Mwananchi’s meetings at Jeevanjee Gardens, yet this our traditional debate venue and meetings have been held there in the past without police interference.
The OCS indicated that he was receiving and acting on orders from his superiors as far up as being above the rank of PPO. It is good to quote him here,said in swahili: " do not ask me questions, I have a job and my job is to make sure you do not meet here", "I told you that you should find alternative place to meet not in public square where you disturb people". "We are not going to arrest you so that you can make money...we will know what to do". He further informed me that if Bunge La Mwananchi wanted to meet in peace it had to be registered so that they can know who we are but they cannot be permit us to just exist.
On further persuasion, he also informed me, said in swahili: "personally I am not against you meeting here. I received orders and I have told you that before". Then he added that if any complaints were to be lodged by Bunge La Mwananchi they would have to be lodged with his superiors as far above over the rank of PPO for anything to be done.
It is important that I mention that since 31st May 2008 after Bunge la Mwananchi held a peaceful protest against unchecked increase of food price, the protest which was violently disrupted and also had our members arrested by police officers; there has been a concerted effort by the Government of Kenya machinery not to allow us to meet. Our members continue to experience police harassment and threats; sometime our members have been arrested and kept overnight in the police cells only to be released without prefered charges in the morning. We have had also incidences of plain clothed police giving threats that our members are going to start disappearing like Mungiki. Till 630pm we had police stationed at the park to make sure we do not meet.
This trend reversed or subsided a little for a couple of days when Hon. Julius Kones demanded a ministerial statement in parliament from the Minister for Security on why the police were harassing and threatening Bunge la Mwananchi members. The Minister for Security was not available to take the question. However, it seems the police officer have gotten new energy and they are back to harass us.
This is a systematic determination by the government machinery to role back our democratic gains by cutting back our civil liberties, individual and constitutional rights. This should and must be resisted. We are calling on Bunge la Mwananchi members and friends both at home in diaspora to come to our rescue. We need to go to our courts for help. We need finances to carry out this. We need legal expertise. We need some ideas on how to frame the issues. We want your support...please get in touch with us with whatever support you can give or find out what you can do.
On behalf and for:
Bunge la Mwananchi
+254 720 451 235