Somali government turned blind eye over Kenyan atrocities against ethnic Somalis – Op-Ed

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohammed (left) with his host President Uhuru Kenyatta
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohammed (left) with his host President Uhuru Kenyatta

Kenyan government authorized its force to take any action necessary to bring those behind the latest terrorist attacks both in Mombasa and Eastleigh to face the law. As result of this, it was reported in the news media outlets that at least 4000 Somalis were arrested of whom 82 were deported back to Mogadishu, Somalia.

As far as media outlets are concerned, different versions held by both Kenyan and Somalis as to why Kenyan government are executing this crackdown against Somali people in the name of the fight against terrorism are reported. Kenyan government claimed that the reason for this crackdown is merely to fight against those who are behind the recent terror attacks in Kenya and those who are in the country illegally, suspected to be sympathizer of the terrorists.

However, Somali politician in Kenya and civilian in Eastleigh have a different version. Most of Somali MP who spoke in Eastleigh meeting said that Kenyan government’s action is solely designed to harass people of Somali origin and this is not the first time that Kenyan police harass innocent civilian in the name of fighting against terrorism, mentioning events in 1980s and urged Kenyan government to stop its action immediately.

Even though Somalis in Eastleigh agreed that this is not the first time they were being harassed while Kenyan police in pursuit of individual terrorist thought to be hiding in area of Eastleigh, they believe that this is more than a fight against terrorist. They stated if this is fight against terrorist then why the Kenyan police are asking bribe money from anyone apprehended before being released.

It was also reported an incident that took place where Somalis claimed that their houses were being searched multiple times within 12 hours, and each time Kenyan police ending their search as soon as they collected money. In another incident, it was even reported in Eastleigh where Kenyan police refused to leave after shown Kenyan birth certificate and other ids until he collected bride.

As far as the Somali in Eastleigh concerned, they believe that they virtually became human cashing machine, what is normally called ATM where individual who deposited money in the bank can go and retrieve portion of money needed for that day. Anyone who lived in Eastleigh know in order not to be bothered by Kenyan police it is easier for them to carry fifth dollars instead of any other legal documents issued by Kenyan authority since all Kenyan police is concerned is how much money he or she would take home at end of the operation that day. It is widely also known even among Kenyan that whoever is assigned to be police in charge of the area of Eastleigh to become millionaire within years.

The question here is that, despite all these different version of why Kenyans are targeting Somalis ethnic, even if it is solely to fight against terrorist, are Kenyan government in the right course? The answer to that question is no, considering Kenyan police action.

somaliHuman right watch said that Kenyan police are violating international law by arbitrarily arresting and deporting anyone viewed to be Somali without allowing an opportunity to apply asylum since Somalia especially in Mogadishu where the first 82 people were deported is not safe.

Opposition leaders in Kenya accused the current administration of dividing Kenyan by attacking only one ethnic group in this case Somalis when it is widely known terrorism is an international phenomenon and they warned this action may back fired.

Anyone who viewed current reporting of how Kenyan police rounding up anyone who resembles Somalis would know this is not a fight against terrorism. It has been seen in media where mothers with children as young as few months were howled inside a military truck to transport to football stadium where there is no water and any other necessities.

The other question is if this is a fight against terrorist then why anyone who is Somali origin no matter who including pregnant woman who reported to have baby in the stadium where she was kept indefinitely is a suspect? These are the questions among others being raised by Somali MP in Kenya.

However, Somalis everywhere not only expected leaders in Kenya to raise those questions and more, but they also expected the current leaders in Somalia to stand by with innocent Somalis being harassed and to speak against this unfair treatment. Instead, Somali leaders turned blind eyes over the whole incident.

Somali president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamed was reported to have been in Kenya when the crackdown started and instead of as Somalis expected from him to speak against this action; he was seen taking photo opportunity with Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta. As of today, he did not mention any word regarding mistreatment suffered by Somali people under Kenyan police in the name of fighting against terrorists, other than saying as reported that terrorism is a threat to both Kenya and Somalia.

The prime minister, Abdiwali Sheikh Ahmed, who supposedly  running the government affair seems to be occupied touring southern Somali, as he is the governor of the southern state, in midst of this disaster and humiliation suffered by Somali people in Kenya and up to now he did not utter any word regarding this issue. He probably thinks Somali ambassador; Mohamed Ali Nur known Ali America can handle that issue.

Mr. Nur is the man who is reported to have say in the recent press conference he held that Somali government supported Kenyan action, and added that Somali government will oppose if, he used the word if, Kenyan harass Somalis when everyone who is not blind can see pure harassment. This is the man, Somali people expected to represent them in Kenya, Mohamed Ali Nur, whose picture when he was standing in front of Somalis being harassed by Kenyan police was circulated in the media few days ago.

If these are the leaders Somali people expected to stand by in time of need, what is next? The only option is for Somali parliament if there is still anyone with blood to pressure government to take action against the mistreatment of Somali people. Somali people everywhere should support Somali leaders in Kenyan by not accept this kind of treatment to be suffered not only by Somali Kenyan, but all Somalis. And finally one day Somali people will hold current Somali leaders accountable for their inaction against mistreatment of all ethnic Somalis.

By: Mohamed A. Hussein.
mohabdhus@aol.com