“To lose even one life because of elections is abominable”: Catholic Bishops in Kenya
CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 17 August 2017
The Catholic Bishops in Kenya have described as “sad and painful” the protests and violence that followed the announcement of the Presidential results on Friday, August 11 and recalled, “It reminded us of the post-election violence of 2007/2008 that we, as a Nation, had vowed never again to experience.”
“Dear Kenyans, to lose even one life because of elections is abominable,” the Bishops have stated in their August 17 collective message and added, “To injure and maim anybody is unacceptable. This must never be allowed in any civilized society like Kenya.”
There have been conflicting reports about the number of deaths, with the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) claiming it had evidence of 24 deaths, the Multi-Sectoral Forum, a grouping of religious leaders drawn from various faiths, putting the figure of the dead at 18, and the Cabinet Secretary for Interior, Fred Matiang’i denying any deaths of protestors, claiming that those shot by police could have been criminals who were taking advantage of the situation.
“As a church we have our own network of people on the ground who have given us the information. People have called us whenever it has happened to inform us. We got this number from our people on the ground and some in the human rights movement,” Anglican Church of Kenya Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit has been quoted as saying at a press conference at Nairobi’s Ufungamano House.
“We are concerned about the use of excessive force and we ask the Independent Policing Oversight Authority and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions to investigate these killings with a view to bringing the culprits to book,” KNCHR chairperson, Kagwiria Mbogori, has been quoted as saying at a press conference Saturday, August 12.
Among the dead is a six-month old baby, Samantha Pendo, who died of severe head injury due to a bang on her scull that caused a fracture on the right side of her head. The baby’s attacker is suspected to be an anti-riot police during Friday night demonstrations in the Western town of Kisumu.
“We confirm that the baby suffered severe head injury due to a bang on the head, and we have shared the results with the family,” Consultant Pathologist Dixon Mchana has been quoted as telling the press Thursday, August 17.
“It was sad that a baby of this age had to die such a cruel death. We hope the authorities will get to the bottom of this matter, and bring those culpable to book as well as hand the family justice,” Family representative Amos Pambo told the press Thursday, August 17, promising to do all in their power as a family to secure justice for baby Pendo, whose name means love.
Also killed during the post-election protests was a 10-year-old girl, who was hit by a stray bullet while playing with other children outside her parents’ house in Nairobi’s Mathare area.
The bullet, which hit her chest and exited through the back, could have been fired by one of the anti-riot police officers who had moved in to quell protests that had been staged by perceived opposition supporters who were against the announced re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The Catholic Bishops have castigated the security officers who brutally confronted protesters when they were expected to protect them, a move that resulted in “painful loss of life, the barricading of roads and the destruction of property.”
Meanwhile, the Bishops have thanked Kenyans for turning out in large numbers to vote terming the action a “sense of patriotism and love for our nation.”
They have also applauded the opposition coalition, NASA, for deciding to channel their grievances regarding the election through Kenya’s Supreme Court.
“It is only by respecting and having recourse to the established Constitutional institutions that we, as Kenyans, are able to enhance and strengthen the rule of law and the democratic process in our country,” the Catholic Prelates in Kenya have stated in their message titled, “Truth will set you free.”
“As we await the determination of the disputed Presidential elections by the Supreme Court, we call upon our Government leaders, beginning with the President to take the lead in uniting the country,” the Bishops have gone on to say and have urged “all Kenyans to avoid anything that incites others to violent protests.”
“We commend this country to prayer for peace, justice and prosperity,” the Bishops have concluded their message signed by the Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), Bishops Philip Anyolo of Homabay diocese.