Black white operations of the Kanyotu era

Story by KAMAU NGOTHO

Under Mr James Kanyotu, the State security intelligence apparatus largely operated through intrusion, torture and mysterious murders.

In the minds of ordinary citizens, the mention of what was popularly known as the Special Branch brought up images of shifty-eyed characters in smoky cellars extracting information by duress when not peeping through keyholes or staging mafia-style killings.

Barely two months after Kanyotu was appointed the Director of Intelligence in February 1965, a radical politician of Asian origin, Pio Gama Pinto, was gunned down outside his house in the city’s Westlands suburb.

Point-blank.

He was reversing outside his gate one early morning when a lone gunman appeared from nowhere and shot him at point-blank range.

Four years later, an assassin’s bullet cut short the life of Tom Mboya — a dashing politician and Cabinet minister.

He was walking out of a chemist in a crowded city street on Saturday afternoon, July 5, 1969 when he met his death.

Then in March 1975, a herdsman stumbled on a decomposing body at the foot of the scenic Ngong Hills on the outskirts of Nairobi.

It turned out to be the body of the charismatic MP for Nyandarua North, Josiah Mwangi Kariuki, popularly known as ‘JM’, who had been reported missing nine days earlier after he left a Nairobi hotel in the company of the then GSU commandant Ben Gethi.

Fifteen years down the line in February 1990, another body — this time burnt almost beyond recognition — was found by a herdsboy at the foot of Got Alila near Kisumu.

It was that of then Foreign Affairs minister Robert Ouko. He had gone missing for four days after being picked by a white car from his rural home in the wee hours of the morning.

‘Disappeared’

And in the period between 1986 and 1989, several Kenyans were reported to have “disappeared” after they were arrested by the Special Branch and taken to the infamous Nyayo House torture chambers for interrogation in connection with a shadowy outfit called Mwakenya.

Inevitably, in all the “black operations”, fingers were pointed at the institution Mr Kanyotu headed.

In two of the cases — the Ouko and JM murders — he was personally summoned to assist the investigating teams.

He ignored the summons in the case of Ouko, but helpfully cooperated in the JM matter.

In the Mboya and Pinto assassinations, there was no direct mention of the intelligence team or Mr Kanyotu, for that matter.

However, there were powerful pointers that his boys loomed large in the shadows.

In the Mwakenya affair, blood was all over Mr Kanyotu’s hands as the interrogations were conducted by his officers at Nyayo House, the then Nairobi Area Intelligence offices.

Mr Kanyotu’s baptism by fire came on February 25, 1965, hardly two months after he assumed office.

It came with the murder of leftist politician Pio Gama Pinto, a close ally and strategist for then Vice-President and later opposition doyen Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

A self-confessed socialist, Mr Pinto had sharpened his teeth as a radical during Kenya’s fight for independence when he served as the editor of a string of nationalist newspapers and a radio station.

For his troubles, the colonialists detained him without trial for a long period.

Come independence, he identified himself with a radical camp opposed to policies pursued by the Government of the day. The group gravitated around Mr Oginga Odinga. Then somebody decided that he must die.

Early in the morning of February 25, Mr Pinto reversed his car at the gate to his residence in the city’s Westlands suburb. With him was his five-year-old daughter, who he was taking to school.

Before he could engage the forward gear, a man appeared from the corner of the fence and shouted: “Hallo, Sir!”

As he looked up to answer, three bullets hit him in the neck and chest. He slumped dead on the steering wheel.

Three weeks later, a 19-year-old unemployed youth, Kisilu Mutua, was hauled to the courts and accused of killing Mr Pinto. He denied the charge, but admitted having been within the vicinity when the radical politician was shot dead.

Kisilu’s evidence at the trial court had all the elements of a James Bond thriller.

He said he had been a pick-pocket operating at downtown Nairobi.

Police had caught and pardoned him once, but on the second instance, they offered to help him quit the world of crime by getting him a job with a man they simply called Sammy.

Sammy turned up with an interesting kind of job. He would only need him once in a while and for a specific assignment, which would change from time to time.

He helped Kisilu start a business of selling tyre rubber sandals, popularly known as akala, at Ngara Market, from where he would pick him whenever there was a job to be done.

Scare off

Kisilu’s first assignment was to scare off a certain trade-unionist who Sammy said was “joking around with the Government.”

He would drive Kisilu to the unionist’s gate in the evening and wait for the latter to arrive.

Once he showed up, Kisilu would run towards him a knife in hand, hurl a few insults at him and tell him to watch his tongue in future lest the knife ends in his chest.

The first assignment had gone off well and Sammy handsomely rewarded him, Kisilu told the court.

The next assignment would be in Westlands. He was to do the same to a certain muhindi (Indian) who too, as Sammy put it, was giving the Government some trouble.

As with the first assignment, Sammy did not tell him the name of the person and he did not bother to ask as he thought that was none of his business.

On the fateful day, Mr Kisilu told the court, he met Sammy in the company of another man he introduced as Mr Chege Thuo.

The three then got into a taxi, a blue Fiat car, and headed to the gate of their target in Westlands.

Before Kisilu could make his move as instructed, he heard a sudden burst of gun-fire and saw the Indian slump forward as blood gushed from his neck.

A few days later, Sammy got in touch with him and they agreed to meet at a secret rendezvous.

It turned out to be a trap when Kisilu found waiting policemen and Sammy nowhere in sight.

The court found Kisilu guilty and sentenced him to hang. He escaped death for life imprisonment upon appeal.

Doubtful

The court was doubtful that Kisilu was the man who pulled the trigger, but said he must be taken as an accomplice having knowingly gone to Westlands to “scare” his target, whatever the scare entailed.

However, the appeal judge, Chief Justice John Ainley, punched enough holes in the prosecution case to suggest Kisilu may just have been a scapegoat.

“The case for the Republic is that three men were present and that three men ran away from the scene of Mr Pinto’s murder,” said the Appeal judge.

“Yet it has been asked, why has the police not demonstrated the truth of their findings through further investigations?”

Kisilu was set free in 2001 after serving 35 years in jail. He still insists he was punished for a crime he never committed.

 

Courtesy of http://www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/nmgcontententry.asp?category_id=39& newsid=124092

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights…and are entitled to all the rights and freedoms, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, and religion, political or other opinion. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person….No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment… All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights  Articles. 1 – 7.
These are fundamental human rights and freedoms contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which Kenya is a signatory.
The members of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya are appalled at the behaviour of the people of Mtwapa, Kilifi, but more especially by that of the provincial administration and the police.  The five arrested people committed no crime, and we demand their immediate release.
We are also concerned that the media in Kenya continues to play a big role in inciting the public to take matters in their own hands. We understand the media especially in Mombasa called upon residents to ‘stand against the pollution of culture’.  In the supposed gay wedding publicised in the media, there are glaring inconsistencies that the media should have investigated before broadcasting the news.
We would also like to point out the following basic truths relating to this case (Gay Marriage):
1.      It is not a crime in Kenya to be homosexual. While engaging in sex “against the order of nature” is a crime, being gay or living a gay lifestyle is not. People cannot be arrested on suspicion of being homosexual. How pray we ask, do homosexuals look like? What are the distinctive characteristics of homosexuals, and why would they be criminalized on the basis of these characteristics?
2.      Same-sex marriages in Kenya are a non-entity; they therefore cannot be a crime. If two friends of the same sex wish to commit in friendship to one another, such commitment is not a marriage, and even if they regarded it as such, the Government has no obligation to regard it as a marriage since marriage is between members of the opposite sex.
3.      The Action by the Kilifi District Commissioner and the heavy contingent of the police makes one wonder about the government priorities. This is a district drowning in drugs and the large number of drug addicted youths accompanying the police is proof enough. Yet instead of arresting the drug lords and drug pushers the police chose to arrest five hapless youths engaged in HIV Vaccine research project.
4.      In a country with less than 5000 doctors, is taking suspected homosexuals for medical examinations to prove homosexuality the best way to utilise this limited human capital? A visitor to any of our district hospitals would be most saddened by the way we allocate, priority work for our doctors.
5.      Lastly, National HIV programming has recognized stigma and discrimination as important drivers of the HIV pandemic both within the sexual minorities and the general population. Men who Have Sex with Men – MSM contribute 15.2% of all new infections in Kenya. Of these, 60% are engaged in heterosexual relationships. When will the Kenyan people realize that enforced heterosexuality leads to further HIV vulnerability of the entire society and in no way cures people of their homosexuality? 
The Gay and Lesbian Coalition members, including the membership from Mombasa call on the government to give protection to all Kenyans including the sexual minorities, and to prevent State agents and 3rd parties from meting violence on minority populations.
We therefore call on the Government to move with speed to decriminalize homosexuality so that we can begin to educate the society on the evils of discrimination against sexual minorities.
We urge the media to desist from making inflammatory statements that may put the lives of gay people at risk.
We also call upon the religious leaders in Kenya to appreciate that compulsory heterosexuality is not the way to enforce their religion. GALCK members are willing to enter into dialogue with them, and if they truly have a cure for homosexuality, then we are most happy to take it, BUT NOT UNDER CONDITIONS OF DURESS.

Statement Signed for the GALCK members by
David Kuria
General Manager – GALCK.

the ripple effect: matrix of globalisation

KAMPALA, Uganda — Last March, three American evangelical Christians, whose teachings about “curing” homosexuals have been widely discredited in the United States, arrived here in Uganda’s capital to give a series of talks.

Marc Hofer for The New York Times

Nikki Mawanda, 27, who was born female but lives as a “trans-man” in Uganda, described abuse by the police and others

Daniel, Washington

The theme of the event, according to Stephen Langa, its Ugandan organizer, was “the gay agenda — that whole hidden and dark agenda” — and the threat homosexuals posed to Bible-based values and the traditional African family.

For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”

Now the three Americans are finding themselves on the defensive, saying they had no intention of helping stoke the kind of anger that could lead to what came next: a bill to impose a death sentence for homosexual behavior.

One month after the conference, a previously unknown Ugandan politician, who boasts of having evangelical friends in the American government, introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which threatens to hang homosexuals, and, as a result, has put Uganda on a collision course with Western nations.

Donor countries, including the United States, are demanding that Uganda’s government drop the proposed law, saying it violates human rights, though Uganda’s minister of ethics and integrity (who previously tried to ban miniskirts) recently said, “Homosexuals can forget about human rights.”

The Ugandan government, facing the prospect of losing millions in foreign aid, is now indicating that it will back down, slightly, and change the death penalty provision to life in prison for some homosexuals. But the battle is far from over.

Instead, Uganda seems to have become a far-flung front line in the American culture wars, with American groups on both sides, the Christian right and gay activists, pouring in support and money as they get involved in the broader debate over homosexuality in Africa.

“It’s a fight for their lives,” said Mai Kiang, a director at the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, a New York-based group that has channeled nearly $75,000 to Ugandan gay rights activists and expects that amount to grow.

The three Americans who spoke at the conference — Scott Lively, a missionary who has written several books against homosexuality, including “7 Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child”; Caleb Lee Brundidge, a self-described former gay man who leads “healing seminars”; and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus International, whose mission is “mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality” — are now trying to distance themselves from the bill.

“I feel duped,” Mr. Schmierer said, arguing that he had been invited to speak on “parenting skills” for families with gay children. He acknowledged telling audiences how homosexuals could be converted into heterosexuals, but he said he had no idea some Ugandans were contemplating the death penalty for homosexuality.

“That’s horrible, absolutely horrible,” he said. “Some of the nicest people I have ever met are gay people.”

Mr. Lively and Mr. Brundidge have made similar remarks in interviews or statements issued by their organizations. But the Ugandan organizers of the conference admit helping draft the bill, and Mr. Lively has acknowledged meeting with Ugandan lawmakers to discuss it. He even wrote on his blog in March that someone had likened their campaign to “a nuclear bomb against the gay agenda in Uganda.” Later, when confronted with criticism, Mr. Lively said he was very disappointed that the legislation was so harsh.

Human rights advocates in Uganda say the visit by the three Americans helped set in motion what could be a very dangerous cycle. Gay Ugandans already describe a world of beatings, blackmail, death threats like “Die Sodomite!” scrawled on their homes, constant harassment and even so-called correctional rape.

“Now we really have to go undercover,” said Stosh Mugisha, a gay rights activist who said she was pinned down in a guava orchard and raped by a farmhand who wanted to cure her of her attraction to girls. She said that she was impregnated and infected with H.I.V., but that her grandmother’s reaction was simply, “ ‘You are too stubborn.’ ”

Despite such attacks, many gay men and lesbians here said things had been getting better for them before the bill, at least enough to hold news conferences and publicly advocate for their rights. Now they worry that the bill could encourage lynchings. Already, mobs beat people to death for infractions as minor as stealing shoes.

“What these people have done is set the fire they can’t quench,” said the Rev. Kapya Kaoma, a Zambian who went undercover for six months to chronicle the relationship between the African anti-homosexual movement and American evangelicals.

Mr. Kaoma was at the conference and said that the three Americans “underestimated the homophobia in Uganda” and “what it means to Africans when you speak about a certain group trying to destroy their children and their families.”

“When you speak like that,” he said, “Africans will fight to the death.”

Uganda is an exceptionally lush, mostly rural country where conservative Christian groups wield enormous influence. This is, after all, the land of proposed virginity scholarships, songs about Jesus playing in the airport, “Uganda is Blessed” bumper stickers on Parliament office doors and a suggestion by the president’s wife that a virginity census could be a way to fight AIDS.

During the Bush administration, American officials praised Uganda’s family-values policies and steered millions of dollars into abstinence programs.

Uganda has also become a magnet for American evangelical groups. Some of the best known Christian personalities have recently passed through here, often bringing with them anti-homosexuality messages, including the Rev. Rick Warren, who visited in 2008 and has compared homosexuality to pedophilia. (Mr. Warren recently condemned the anti-homosexuality bill, seeking to correct what he called “lies and errors and false reports” that he played a role in it.)

Many Africans view homosexuality as an immoral Western import, and the continent is full of harsh homophobic laws. In northern Nigeria, gay men can face death by stoning. Beyond Africa, a handful of Muslim countries, like Iran and Yemen, also have the death penalty for homosexuals. But many Ugandans said they thought that was going too far. A few even spoke out in support of gay people.

“I can defend them,” said Haj Medih, a Muslim taxi driver with many homosexual customers. “But I fear the what? The police, the government. They can arrest you and put you in the safe house, and for me, I don’t have any lawyer who can help me.”

 

Demonstrators carried banners denouncing homosexuality in December in Kampala, Uganda.

Marc Hofer for The New York Times

Marc Hofer for The New York Times

Stosh Mugisha is going through a transition to become a man.

Readers’ Comments

“I don’t think any of them were duped by those in Uganda. When you preach a gospel of hatred do you expect love to blossom?”

By Nthateng Mhlambiso (BTM managing Editor)

aw59UGANDA – 16 October 2009: Frustrations are mounting among Ugandan gays and lesbians over the Anti-Homosexuality Bill tabled in Parliament of Uganda on Wednesday, prohibiting homosexual acts, distribution of gay related material, any public discussion or expression of gay and lesbian lives and any organizing around sexual orientation.

Sexual Minorities Uganda, an umbrella organisation of gay rights organisations has said that this “repressive” Bill is a blow to a “steady” progress of democracy in the country.

It stated that the Bill violates the basic rights to freedom of expression, conscience, association, and assembly, as well as internationally recognised protections against discrimination.

“its [the Bill] intention is to divide and discriminate against the Ugandan homosexual population, and exclude them from participation in public life, which goes against the inclusive spirit necessary for our economic as well as political development. Its spirit is profoundly undemocratic and un-African”, SMUG said in a statement.

SMUG revealed that increasing campaigns against gays and lesbians have led to severe violence resulting in many unwarranted arrests and several deaths of homosexual people.

I added “this bill aggravates stigma and hatred and renders all promised protections enshrined in the constitution for all Ugandan citizens void.”

Uganda has, according to SMUG, repeatedly pledged to defend these fundamental freedoms in the Constitutiom, has signed treaties binding it to respect international human rights law and standards including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

“As part of the community of nations forming sexual minorities we urge Ugandan parliamentarians and government to continue to respect these principles and reject this bill, which establishes a new and totally undemocratic level of policing private life.”

“These positions will further set a dangerous precedent and send a signal that any Ugandan’s privacy is unguaranteed -that all of our civil society could be put under attack. If this bill is passed into law, it will clearly endanger the work of all human rights defenders and members of civil society in Uganda”, SMUG said.

“As the Sexual Minorities in Uganda, we urge you to act on that obligation, and to
further the growth of our democracy. Kindly vote against this bill”, SMUG concluded.

16.10.09 | 11h29

 Un nouveau projet de loi visant à renforcer la lutte contre l’homosexualité et sa “promotion” va être débattu la semaine prochaine au Parlement ougandais, a-t-on appris vendredi de source officielle, suscitant les protestations des organisations de défense des droits de l’Homme.

Selon la législation en vigueur, l’homosexualité est un crime en Ouganda, passible d’emprisonnement à vie, mais “une nouvelle loi est nécessaire pour empêcher qu’elle ne se répande dans la société”, a déclaré à l’AFP le ministre de l’Ethique et de l’Intégrité, James Nsaba Buturo.

  “Le point clé” de la nouvelle loi, qui a été présentée mercredi à un comité parlementaire et sera débattue la semaine prochaine par ce comité, est “de lutter contre la promotion de l’homosexualité”, selon M. Buturo.

“Des gens sortent dans les rues et distribuent de la littérature visant à convertir nos concitoyens à un mode de vie dont nous pensons qu’il n’est pas bon”, a-t-il expliqué, en référence aux conférences de presse et manifestations organisées par les organisations locales de défense des homosexuels.

La nouvelle loi entend lutter contre la “promotion de l’homosexualité” en interdisant la publication d’informations ou les activités publiques relatives à ce sujet, et prévoit des peines allant jusqu’à sept ans d’emprisonnement.

Elle impose notamment à quiconque de rapporter dans les 24 heures les noms de personnes soupçonnées d’être homosexuelles, bisexuelles ou transgenre, sous peine de trois ans de prison.

Dans un communiqué transmis vendredi à l’AFP, 17 organisations locales et internationales de défense des droits humains ont condamné ce projet de loi, dont certains articles sont “illégaux et immoraux”, selon la spécialiste des droits sexuels Kate Sheill, d’Amnesty International.

“Cette loi viole les droits de l’Homme et doit être retirée immédiatement”, ont exigé ces associations, dont Human Rights Watch (HRW).

“Il s’agit d’une claire tentative pour diviser et affaiblir la société civile en frappant l’un de ses groupes les plus marginalisés”, a accusé Scott Long, directeur pour HRW du programme de défense des homosexuels: “Le gouvernement commence par là, mais où va-t-il s’arrêter?”

“Si cette loi passe, nous ne pourrons plus tenir de conférences de presse. Toute forme de dialogue public sur l’homosexualité sera illégal”, s’est alarmé Frank Mugisha, président de Minorités sexuelles en Ouganda (Smug), principale organisation de défense des gays et lesbiennes dans le pays.

“Il n’est plus simplement question d’homosexualité. C’est du respect des libertés fondamentales dont il s’agit”, a-t-il souligné.

“Dans le cadre de la législation actuelle, la police arrête arbitrairement et détient des hommes et des femmes accusés d’avoir eu des relations sexuelles consentantes entre personnes du même sexe”, selon ces organisations, qui font état de cas de tortures et de mauvais traitements.

 

Scott Long

Director, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program

Human Rights Watch

email: longs@hrw.org

 

now sit down David Bahati, sit down parliament of Uganda,

(all homophobes line up here)

and just SHUT UP  en listen!

 

the most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love….