- Post 17 March 2009
- By The Chicago Defender
- Hits: 173
NAIROBI, Kenya — Government anger over a U.N. report accusing it of running death squads in Kenya has led to threats against members of human rights groups and some have gone into hiding, activists said Saturday.
Two activists who provided information in February to the author of the report, U.N. Special Rapporteur Philip Alston, were shot and killed hours after they were denounced by a Kenyan government spokesman, but it is unclear whether the deaths were linked to their work.
Other activists in western Kenya said they have been followed by plainclothes intelligence men and received threatening phone calls. Four have fled the country and 10 are in hiding. The activists provided information about alleged abuses by the military during a crackdown on a brutal militia in the Mt. Elgon region last year. Thousands of Kenyans were arrested — some as young as 11 — and many allege they were tortured in custody.
On Saturday, a government spokesman did not return calls seeking comment.
Alston said the Mt. Elgon crackdown was one of three events during which the government was responsible for extrajudicial killings. The other two were Kenya’s post-election violence and a crackdown on a gang known as the Mungiki.
Job Bwonya of Western Kenya Human Rights Watch fled to Uganda after local officials demanded he provide a list of witnesses he had arranged for Alston to interview. Government officials have denounced him on the radio, and he has received threatening calls, he said. The wife of one of his staff, now in hiding, was told by officials she would not receive relief food if she did not take part in a demonstration denouncing her husband, he said.
In photo: Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, left, shakes hands with opposition leader Raila Odinga, right, in Nairobi, Kenya. Millions of Kenyans are at risk of hunger, politicians accused of inciting violence are collecting fat perks, and the bloated cabinet is trading blame over a series of financial scandals.
Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.