By Maina Kiai
We have called this press conference to let the country and the world know of the extremely intimidating environment in Kenya today. Early this morning, direct threats against my family have resulted in the presence of armed police and dogs at my mother’s homestead in Nyeri.
I’ve been informed by the police that a militia group calling itself the “Nyaribo Support Group” intends to burn the family homestead and my house in Nyeri today.
I want to thank the police for providing protection. They have been very cooperative with me since I contacted them to ask about their presence there. But I appeal to them to provide more information to me and my family, so that we can fully understand their presence – They have turned up to the homestead over the last few days, asking about me, and if my family has any fears for security. They told me this morning that it may not be “safe” to give me more information on my telephone line…why? Am I under surveillance? Or are they..?
I fear for the safety of everyone in this extremely intimidating environment that grips the country, fueled by bloggers acting with impunity. Witnesses at the ICC are being vilified, threatened and exposed. And people are being exposed as witnesses, when they are not – as with Rahab Muthoni Kagiri. The lies and fear on social media is escalating, with direct consequences, and our security system seems unable or unwilling to arrest and charge the bloggers.
For the record, it is NOT treason and it is NOT criminal to provide evidence to the ICC. Under our Constitution, the ICC is part of our judicial system. Lets call them for what they are – Witnesses, in this environment, are truly brave heroes for their nation and for justice. It is a mark of the highest courage and patriotism for anyone to give evidence for the fight against impunity.
Civil Society has been under vicious attack since March, especially by politicians and in the social media. People’s families have been threatened, and activists have been harassed and hounded. But they are simply exercising their fundamental rights to expression, association and assembly. Peaceful dissent is not and should never be made into a crime. Indeed without dissent, Kenya will become the police state it was in the 1980s. THAT is tantamount to treason, given the protections in our constitution.
This dangerous and destructive approach is directly fueled by well- known hate bloggers – including those who are now staff at State House, right at the heart of the Presidency. They are well known for their lies, hate speech and libel. They should never have been hired in the first place. They are leading attacks from State House, despite their nefarious history and work. It leads us to the irresistible conclusion that the President himself acquiesces to these attacks against Kenyan citizens and the constitution. We will hold him personally and criminally liable should anything happen to my family, to me, or to any other human rights defenders or activists who are simply defending the constitution and basic human rights.