[WSMDiscuss] The world is afire, ideas are going viral : Protests against police brutality open up in Kenya, India

Jai Sen jai.sen at cacim.net
Wed Jul 8 16:16:07 CEST 2020

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Viruses in movement…, Ideas in movement…, Resistance in movement…, Kenya in movement…, India in movement…

·      Officers fire tear gas, detain demonstrators as Kenyans protest police brutality

·      Kenyans protest cop who allegedly killed man over sanitizer

·      ‘India’s George Floyds’ spur calls for end to police brutality

[The US is afire, its people aflame…  And among many other ‘ideas’, the ‘George Floyd Rebellion’ itself seems to be going viral, and inspiring people to take similar actions against police brutality elsewhere – from ordinary citizens documenting what is going on to street protest, here in Kenya and in India.  Something is happening…

[The reports say that WSMDiscuss list member in Kenya, Gacheke Gachihi, is among the organisers there.  Gacheke, in case you see this, can you give us a first-hand report from the ground, and post any documents etc ?  In India, People’s Watch is listed.  Henri (Tiphagne), and others in India, can you add to these news reports, and put them in context ?  And perhaps also people from other countries, contexts ?

[These posts go worldwide, so please use them to spread the news – and also to inform us and sharpen our understandings, everywhere :

Officers fire tear gas, detain demonstrators as Kenyans protest police brutality

Tom Odula, Associated Press

June 7 2020

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-officers-fire-tear-gas-detain-demonstrators-as-kenyans-protest-police/ <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-officers-fire-tear-gas-detain-demonstrators-as-kenyans-protest-police/>

Kenyan police detain a protester at a demonstration against police brutality, in downtown Nairobi, on July 7, 2020.  (The Associated Press)

Kenyan police on Tuesday fired tear gas and detained protesters demanding an end to police brutality.

About 100 people took part in demonstrations across the capital, Nairobi. Many Kenyans have been angered by a fresh wave of alleged police abuses while enforcing coronavirus restrictions.

“We are not armed and we just wanted to take our petition very peacefully, but as you can see they are very armed, they have arrested some of us and they have injured some of us,” protester David Oluoch said.

Nairobi-area police boss Philip Ndolo said nearly 30 people had been arrested and that protesters had not been “observing distance” for the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s dangerous to hold such meetings now,” he said.

A protest organizer said 56 people had been arrested.

Human rights activists say at least 22 people, including a 13-year-old boy, have been killed by officers enforcing the virus restrictions. But activists say there has been no groundswell of widespread public protest in Kenya, one of Africa’s biggest economies, that’s been seen in other parts of the world.

Kenya’s police force for two decades has been ranked as the country’s most corrupt institution. It’s also the most deadly, according to human rights groups say.

Protest co-ordinator Gacheke Gachihi said social justice groups from 16 slums organized Tuesday’s event to mark 30 years since opposition politicians protested to demand democratic reforms from the single-party autocratic regime at the time.

Gachihi said the police killings have targeted people in slums and people are demanding that their rights be respected.

“We are not going to stand for that anymore,” activist Amelia Hopkins Philips said. “We are going to keep standing up and peacefully protesting until that message gets through.”

Kenyans protest cop who allegedly killed man over sanitizer

Tom Odula, Associated Press

June 6 2020

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-kenyans-protest-cop-who-allegedly-killed-man-over-sanitizer-2/ <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-kenyans-protest-cop-who-allegedly-killed-man-over-sanitizer-2/>

A demonstrator gestures while holding a placard during a demonstration against what they term as arbitrary police killings in the Mathare slum in Nairobi on June 8, 2020.  (TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

Residents of a small town in western Kenya set fire to a police station and damaged several vehicles after a police officer allegedly killed a man over a dispute about hand sanitizer, according to an official report.

It is the second time in two weeks that Kenyans have violently protested alleged police killings.

According to a police report seen by The Associated Press, residents of Rioma in Kisii County stormed the local police station Sunday evening after an officer reportedly shot and killed a trader he accused of selling fake hand sanitizers.

Enraged members of the public pelted the station with stones, injuring five officers, and lit fires that extensively damaged the offices and several police cars, the report says.

The officer who allegedly killed the trader has been arrested, said the report.

In late June, two people were killed and the house of the local police chief burned in a small town in Kenya’s Rift Valley. The confrontation between police and residents started after police reportedly shot and killed a motorcyle taxi rider for not wearing a face mask.

Human rights activists for weeks have protested alleged killings by Kenyan police officers while enforcing virus-related restrictions. They also accuse officers of using the measures to extort bribes.

Kenya’s police force for two decades has been ranked as the country’s most corrupt institution. It’s also Kenya’s most deadly, according to human rights groups.

In the last three months 22 people, including a 13-year-old boy, have been killed by police enforcing the new restrictions, allege human rights activists.

Activists say there has been no groundswell of widespread public support for change in Kenya, one of Africa’s biggest economies, even as protests have erupted in many parts of the world over police abuse.

Kenya has so far recorded 164 deaths from 8,067 COVID-19 cases. Thousands have lost their livelihoods and many others are constrained financially due to restrictions on movement to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Separately, President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday bowed to pressure and lifted restrictions barring travel into and out of the capital city Nairobi, the second-largest city, Mombasa, and Mandera County.

These travel bans were meant to prevent the spread of the disease from the areas with high numbers of cases to rural areas until hospitals are upgraded to deal with COVID-19.

Kenyatta however did not lift the country’s night curfew. He urged Kenyans to exercise “cautious optimism and avoid reckless abandon,” and warned if the situation deteriorates and pose a challenge to the country’s health infrastructure “we will have to resort to a lock-down.”

‘India’s George Floyds’ spur calls for end to police brutality


https://www.justicenews.co.in/indias-george-floyds-spur-calls-for-end-to-police-brutality/ <https://www.justicenews.co.in/indias-george-floyds-spur-calls-for-end-to-police-brutality/>

The rare arrest of six police officers on murder charges over the death of two men in custody has emboldened victims to speak up against targeted police brutality in India, and demand an end to impunity.

Shopkeeper J Jayaraj, 59, and his son Bennicks Immanuel, 31, were beaten so badly for keeping their shop in the southern state of Tamil Nadu open in breach of coronavirus lockdown rules that they died in hospital last month.

Their deaths caused outrage in a country where human rights groups say minorities have long been subject to police brutality, and inspired comparisons to George Floyd, a Black American man whose death has inspired mass anti-racism protests.

“This case struck a chord because the two men had no criminal background and their only crime according to the police report was to keep their shop open beyond permitted hours,” said V Suresh, general secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties.

“This case has already emboldened another family under the jurisdiction of the same police station to speak up. Across India, people have realised that the police’s lathi (baton) has entered everyone’s homes.” Police in Tamil Nadu did not return repeated calls for comment.

Nine people die in judicial or police custody every 24 hours in India, according to the latest annual report by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). The report for the year 2017/18 said some custodial deaths were reported after considerable delay or not reported at all, and violence in custody was so rampant “that it has become almost routine”.

Government crime data, by contrast, shows 70 deaths in police custody in 2018 and only includes those where an official complaint was registered by police. No police were convicted over the deaths. When India imposed a three-week national lockdown in March, social media was flooded with videos of police using their batons to beat migrant workers and other poor people with no choice but to go out to work.

Rickshaw pullers who defied curfew had their tyres let down and some were shown doing squats as punishment. Opposition lawmaker Shashi Tharoor, a former United Nations Under-Secretary General, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to rein in police brutality, saying it showed the country’s law enforcement “in a very poor light”.

During lockdown, poor Indians who needed to earn to survive were the main targets.

But human rights campaigners say India’s minorities – including Muslims, indigenous groups and those from the lowest Dalit caste – have often borne the brunt of police brutality.

These groups are also disproportionately incarcerated by police, the charity Common Cause said in its Status of Policing in India Report of 2018. “Most police torture cases deal with the voiceless, lower class communities and there is an inherent caste bias in these cases,” said M A Britto, a campaigner for police reform.


Retired school teacher Jeyraj Issac lives in a village near the town of Sathankulam, where the six policemen arrested over the deaths of Jayaraj and his son were from. For some time, he has been quietly documenting cases of men being picked up by police, beaten up and either released or sent to jail in the area.

“So much injustice is happening before my eyes,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone. “I am watching everything, and in the last four months have recorded at least 60 cases where people have been picked up by police, beaten and asked to sign blank papers. All they are told is, ‘there is a case against you’.”

Issac is also helping the family of S Mahendran, a 28-year-old who was picked up by the Sathankulam police in May in a case where his brother was a suspect, and died shortly after his release. The family says he was tortured in custody. “It happened a month before Jayaraj and Bennicks died, and the circumstances were the same,” said Issac.

“The police just told the mother that he would be back if they found her older son, or she should assume Mahendran is dead. The boy died anyway a few days after he was released and the family was too scared to report it.” The case is now under investigation by police, who declined to comment.

Lawyers and human rights campaigners hope the latest case will help victims of police brutality speak up in the future. The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, a regional network of 81 organisations, has called on the Indian government to enact a domestic anti-torture law. In a joint statement on Monday, its members said the arrest of six police officers was just the first step towards addressing impunity and called for a law to end custodial torture to prevent future deaths of detainees.

“Jayaraj and Bennicks’ death have seen massive protests, but it doesn’t mean justice will be done,” said Mohan, who goes by one name and is the associate director of People’s Watch, which has fought numerous police torture cases. “But this case has created awareness and shown people what is possible in a police brutality case. Hopefully, many more will come forward and speak up without fear in the future.”

Courtesy : bdnews24.com


Jai Sen

Independent researcher, editor; Senior Fellow at the School of International Development and Globalisation Studies at the University of Ottawa

jai.sen at cacim.net <mailto:jai.sen at cacim.net>
Now based in New Delhi, India (+91-98189 11325) and in Ottawa, Canada, on unceded and unsurrendered Anishinaabe territory (+1-613-282 2900) 

CURRENT / RECENT publications :

Jai Sen, ed, 2018a – The Movements of Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance. Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
Jai Sen, ed, 2018b – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ? (Indian edition). New Delhi : AuthorsUpfront, in collaboration with OpenWord and PM Press.  Hard copy available at MOM1AmazonIN <https://www.amazon.in/dp/9387280101/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1522884070&sr=8-2&keywords=movements+of+movements+jai+sen>, MOM1Flipkart <https://www.flipkart.com/the-movements-of-movements/p/itmf3zg7h79ecpgj?pid=9789387280106&lid=LSTBOK9789387280106NBA1CH&marketplace=FLIPKART&srno=s_1_1&otracker=search&fm=SEARCH&iid=ff35b702-e6a8-4423-b014-16c84f6f0092.9789387280106.SEARCH&ppt=Search%20Page>, and MOM1AUpFront <http://www.authorsupfront.com/movements.htm>
Jai Sen, ed, 2017 – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?.  New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press.  Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
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