By DR. M.Y. ELMI
The fight against terrorism is a global phenomenon whose success depends largely on support from all and sundry. There are two types of terrorist in Eastleigh, the Al shabab and Kenya Government security forces both of these terror groups kill , maim, abduct , rob and rape the Kenyan Somali and their neighbors in Eastleigh Estate ; No! No! The Al Shabaab at least did not rape because of their “religious” conventions. These terror groups are hurting the people of Somali ethnicity and other Kenyans by extension for political -economic reasons and have nothing to do with religion.
The Al shabab feel Kenya defence Forces invaded Somalia and dislodged them from power and closed their economic tap. The Government of Kenya on the other hand wanted to create a buffer Zone from Terror attacks and safe guard their political and economic interest and additionally, support the legitimate Mogadishu Government. The battle ground become Eastleigh Estate and the victims are Kenya Somalis, Somali Somalis, Afghanistan Somalis, Somalis anywhere and everywhere, the target is Somalis.
The most difficult Nationality is Kenya Somali, despite occupying the second largest province in the country and being part and parcel of the Geography and history of Kenya, which dates back to the formation of Kenya as a country, during the scramble for Africa, these people have always been seen by subsequent governments as intruders and nation-less people who are useful only during electioneering period because of their votes. Integration into mainstream Kenya became a dream and mirage. They have being brutalized, marginalized, down trodden and their rights abused by all the successive governments of the day from the colonial to Jubilee with the slightest excuse or provocation.
The Colonial Government used religion as an excuse for the marginalization and underdevelopment, the Kenyatta Government used the Shifta War to commit heinous crimes, the Moi Government used security to massacre the people , the Kibaki Government used tribal clashes and now the Uhuru Government is using terrorism , the NAZI style of concentration camps with possible extermination and displacement.
Many Kenyan Somali believe, the Eastleigh operation is not about fighting terrorism but an economic sabotage to weakening the ever increasing economic muscles of the Somali Community. What is the economic cost of this operation to the Somali in Eastleigh with regards to the transport, hospitality, agricultural, tourism, banking sectors e.t.c to mention but a few sectors which are the cornerstone of the Eastleigh economic hub. What I do not know for sure now, who are the beneficiaries of these economic loss or decline of the Somali community but time will tell.
The operational frame work was to sieve Kenyan citizen of Somali ethnicity from the rest of other Somalis or foreigners. The methodology used was to ask the people in the area of operation (Eastleigh) to produce their National ID cards and the authenticity of the ID is dependent on the judgment of the police , the presence of BCG immunization scar and the capacity to speak Kiswahili and or English languages were other parameters used for the screening process. These parameters are totally unconstitutional and erroneous to judge any person’s nationality considering, the factor that immunization coverage has been low in North Eastern province since the colonial days and BCG scar is universal in Eastern Africa countries, illiteracy rates are above 80% in NEP, therefore most people cannot speak Kiswahili or English because of this anomaly.
More 6000 persons probably mostly Kenyan Somali were hauled into Kasarini concentration camp and some of them deported to Somali. Can you image a Kenyan being deported to Somali at tax payers’ expense? It’s alleged in the social media that one mentally ill patient from Tarbaj constituency is among the people deported to Somalia.
Terrorism cannot be fought in this manner by hurting the citizen of this country and breaking their economic backbone, yet expecting them to pay tax and develop the nation. There are internationally recognized methods to fight terrorism. The first and foremost is strengthening internal systems and structures such as dealing ruthlessly with corruption because it is the single most important vice that has promoted all evils in this county. If the terrorist can drive through Kenya from Mandera to Mombasa with a bomb laden vehicle as reported in the print media, If terrorist and other criminals can easily access Kenyan identification cards and passports, pass through the airport or seaport at will, if refugees can access and migrate to all the big cities in Kenya, the problem is internal and the Government must look inward and ask hard questions to the officials entrusted with these responsibilities.
Once these and many other loop holes are sealed then there must be investment in intelligence and technology in addition to collaboration within agencies and other friendly nations among others. Community policing is critical and central to the fight against criminality including terrorism. There must never be collective punishment for the citizenry because this creates a fertile ground for radicalization and will ultimately favor the terrorist and its counterproductive strategy.
It’s now clear; the Jubilee Government is Kanu digital and is hell-bent to reverse all the gains of civil liberty as enshrined in the new constitutional dispensation and restore dictatorship and anarchy. The detention without trial and the Nyayo terror chambers are back better and bigger and are now located in Kasarani as a concentration camp.
The people of Kenya must unite to fight injustice in all its form and excuses. The leadership from the ethnic Kenyan Somalis must also unite and speak with one voice and ask the government to stop these shameful operations, which should never happen again anywhere else in Kenya in its current form. Additionally they must institute legal redress so that the current victims can be compensated for damages, losses and wrongful deportation and detention occasioned by the operation in Eastleigh.
What is worrying, the Government and the leadership of Wajir County are conspicuously absent in this political arena in this hour of need.
Lastly, despite all harassment and humiliation, the Kenyan Somalis will always be Kenyans who love their county and its people.
The writer is a political commentator and a university Lecturer