by ILPS Kenya
July 9, 2020 – All 56 Kenyan activists arrested last Tuesday were now released by the police and are willing to narrate their testimonies on the police brutality and violent dispersal during their 30th year commemoration of the Saba Saba People’s March.
In a webinar scheduled this Saturday organizers of the said protest will be sharing what transpired during the Saba Saba People’s March and their plans to sustain the demonstrations. The International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS) Kenya is organizing the online forum and is inviting everyone to register and participate in the said event.
The protest action last July 7 was in commemoration of the traditional day of popular protests in Kenya, known as the Saba Saba (“Seven Seven” in the Swahili language). Thirty years ago on July 7, 1990, mass demonstrations took place against the one-party regime of the dictator Daniel Moi. In 1992 police canceled the Saba Saba rally and engaged those who had assembled in running battles, triggering riots that lasted four days. About 20 were killed and many more injured in what is memorialized today as ‘Saba Saba’.
This year, the mobilizations were spearheaded by Social Justice Centers across Nairobi with the calls for social amelioration amid the pandemic, ending of police brutality and extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in Kenya. The march started from all the venues with Social Justice Centers including Kayole, Komarocks, Dandora, Kariobangi, Korogocho, Ruaraka, Githurai, Kiamaiko, Kibera, Mathare, Kamukunji, Mukuru, Makadara, and Kiambiu. The converging point of the simultaneous protests was at Harambee house at the town center.
Some of the demonstrators reached the town and attempted to assemble to start a program when hundreds of police forces suddenly fired teargas and arrested the leaders on site. Other contingents that were still converging in their community, like the Mathare Social Justice Centre, were already dispersed by the police before they could even start to march.
Despite the violent dispersal, Kenyan activists were defiant even when they were being arrested and castigated by the police authorities. Those who were brought in police stations continued with the chanting of their protest slogans.
Kenya is one of the African countries hardest hit by the pandemic and is now suffering from a massive loss of jobs. The protesters claim that the terrible economic crisis is also due to state mismanagement and corruption.
“We are witnessing state demolitions carried out against the people even at the height of the pandemic. We are faced with an acute water shortage that is crucial for sanitation against the COVID-19 virus. Worse, cases of police killings and brutality are increasing while majority of Kenyans cannot access proper medical services”, Lewis Maghanga of the Socialist Youth League and co-convenor of ILPS-Kenya said.
On the scheduled online forum this weekend, organizers of the Saba Saba People’s March will call for stronger solidarity from different groups across the globe to condemn the intensifying crackdown in Kenya, which is a clear violation of their guaranteed right to free speech and assembly. #
Article by ILPS Kenya