Even before the modern Republic of Kenya was formed, war crimes were being committed in that part of Africa.
In the 1950s, an extended and bloody battle between European settlers and the native Kikuyu tribe ensued, in what is now known as the Mau Mau Uprising.
In the early twentieth century, the first white settlers arrived in the region, forcing the Kikuyu people off of their tribal lands. Europeans took control of farmland and the government, relegating the Kikuyu to a subservient position. One faction of the Kikuyu people formed Mau Mau, an organization intent on purging all European influence from the country, but other Kikuyus attempted either to remain neutral or to help the British defeat Mau Mau.
By October of 1952, the situation was so serious that the British called out troops to fight the rebels, and a three-year war ensued, during which 11,000 rebel warriors were killed and 80,000 Kikuyu men, women, and children were locked up in concentration camps and abused or killed.
One hundred Europeans and 2,000 Africans loyal to them were killed by the Mau Mau.
On Dec. 12, 1963, Kenya achieved independence from Britain. In 1964, the country became a republic under Jomo Kenyatta, who had been jailed by the British, as its first president.
The Kenya African National Union (KANU), Kenyatta’s party, governed the country without allowing any opposition from 1964 to 1992. Kenyatta died in 1978 and was succeeded by Daniel arap Moi.
By 1995, Kenya’s political system was still at odds with democracy. Moi ordered the arrest of anyone who insulted him and the opposition was kept in the dark of the political arena. In 1997 and 1998, Kenyans suffered from severe flooding and epidemics of malaria and cholera that overwhelmed the ineffectual health care system.
More recently, the violence which followed the 27 December 2007 election between President Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) and his main rival, Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) saw 1,133 people killed, over 300,000 displaced, and tens of thousands of houses burned down (the true figure of the dead was probably closer to 1,500), amid continuing disagreement over who had won the elections.
Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary-general set up a commission of inquiry, chaired by Judge Philip Waki, into the post-election violence.
Some of his conclusions were;
* Most of the killing was not spontaneous, but the result of systematic violence by politically-organised tribal militias: Kalenjin killing Kikuyu settlers (PNU voters) in the Rift valley, and Kikuyu carrying out revenge killings in the Nairobi slums (the latter mostly targeting Luos – Odinga is Luo and the ODM was seen as a Luo political machine)
* The National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) had given advance warnings of likely trouble, which the government had disregarded
* The police responded to violence through disproportionate means and also perpetrated killings along tribal lines
* The organisers of this mayhem were politicians from both sides; their names were not made public but were given by Judge Waki both to President Kibaki and to Kofi Annan.
* The commission found out of 900 reported rape cases during the violence, at least 400 of them were committed by the police.
* During the violence, at least 1,000 people were killed and 350,000 others displaced. More than one-third of those killed were shot by police.
As an example of the horrific violence which took place after the disputed election, on New Year’s Day 2008, a mob of bow- and arrow-wielding Kalenjin men, surrounded a church in Kiambaa, close to Eldoret town in the north Rift Valley.
They barricaded the wooden doors and threw mattresses doused with petrol against the walls and onto the roof then set it on fire. Thirty-five Kikuyus died in the blaze, most of them women and children.
The report however has stated that violence was committed in equal measure by both sides of the conflict. Both parties are now in a coalition government.
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has begun an investigation into political violence that is expected to lead him straight to Kenya’s wealthy and educated ruling elites.
Among 19 politicians on a list of 219 alleged perpetrators published by the state-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) are three cabinet ministers.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
DO THESE CONSTITUTE WAR CRIMES OR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY?
SHOULD ANYONE BE PROSECUTED FOR THEM?
IF SO, WHO?