The long road to justice by Ahmedsalim Noor Hashi

I wrote down this article to commiserate with my people as the painful memories of the massacres crossed their minds. They were testifying as witnesses to the truth justice and reconciliation commission hearings in North eastern province of Kenya (NEP) on massacres committed by different state agents. I watched via screens as tears rolled down their cheeks. They were often interrupted by unavoidable cries as their minds revisited the darkest moments in Kenyan history.  The way they spoke revealed how they have suffered in silence under a cruel and ruthless dictatorships.

Their haggard faces bore the brunt of successive regimes. They felt weak and helpless; I could see the sense of vengefulness in their eyes, in that very moment their loyalty began to ebb away, the foundation on which the small part of their kenyanism was built on began to shake, in that instant I felt they would be morally right if they yelled out "tunavumulia kuwa wakenya".

Their stories unfolded slowly. They watched helplessly as they were buttered, raped and slaughtered by the very ones that were supposed to defend and protect them. All this was done in the name of protecting "public safety and security". The state agents trampled on people's liberty, freedom and above all human dignity without fear of facing the law. The poor victims had no power, no strength and no prowess to fight the perpetrators. Their hope lay in the lap of the gods.

The government then concocted its own laws; what later came to be known as the indemnity act cap 44. The so called law gave the perpetrators immunity from persecution for the horrific crimes they committed against humanity in northern Kenya. I wonder if ever they were humans. Or were they humans on a wolf's skin? One fails to comprehend. I quote the former law: "No proceeding or claim to compensate or indemnity shall be instituted or made or entertained by any court or by any authority or tribunal established by or by any law"

Every year we celebrate the so called independence and other national holidays, one is constrained to ask if we are morally justified to celebrate shame, deceit and massacres that the successive regimes unleashed on its own people. All the dreadful carnages that were perpetrated on  the residents of NFD from  wagalla massacre, Garissa gubay, Bulla karatasi killings, Galmagala, Modagashe, liboi and the rest of the atrocities were all done in the name of "flushing bandits" am again constrained to ask were the old men, women, children and pregnant mothers also bandits? What did they do to deserve such inhuman punishments? You termed their land unproductive and good for nothing, you marginalized them, you deprived them the basics of life, and you saw that wasn’t enough. Then you slaughtered them. Was it an absolute show of power in what was indeed the poor man's land?

The cries for justice fell on deaf ears. The victims moved from court to court in search of justice but their files remained unattended to and started gathering dust on shelves of the Kenyan judiciary. The Kenyan courts permitted to be diminished, delegitimized and laughed at by the perpetrators. The credibility of Kenyan courts was undoubtly questioned. Some of them then turned to the international community. For example in 2005 the United Nations (UN) termed the wagalla massacre "the worst episode of human rights violations in Kenyan history" Amos wako was the United Nations rapporteur on human rights during the wagalla massacre. In 1985 he investigated the massacre then combined a confidential report and sent it to the UN. He joined some of the team who planned and executed these heinous crimes and was later appointed the attorney general, despite knowing the truth he kept his mouth shut. That was another mortal blow to the Kenyan judiciary.

Most of the big figures in Kenyatta and moi regimes are today the cream of Kenya's most powerful men. From president kibaki, mwiraria who was the permanent secretary for home affairs in 1984, Francis Sigei was district commissioner for Garissa in 1982 and today is the Kenyan's ambassador to Nigeria, Joseph kibwana to name a few. This clearly depicts the culture of impunity this country's vessel is sailing on and foreshadows the long road we have to travel before we reach the sweet scents of justice. In 2010 the Kenyan parliament passed overwhelmingly a motion to abolish the indemnity act, thanks to the efforts of hon.amb Affey but unfortunately the president refused to sign it. This is a clear indication of the government's unwillingness to bring the criminals to the corridors of justice.

Now that the Truth justice and reconciliation commission (TJRC) heard the truth, the commission should first stand to the human values and bring the perpetrators to the unmerciful jaws of justice. Then the victims who to date are suffering from psychological problems and other diseases should be treated. From there the commission should take the responsibility and make sure the victims are compensated.

Failure to do that will reduce our fragile judiciary into farce.  Questions remain lingering in the minds of Nepians. Can the commission take effective actions in bringing the culprits to justice? Will they fulfill the expectations and dreams of the poor victims? Or the resurgence of justice will remain a mere dream never to be realized.

Albeit the hearings are over; the victims' heads remain down, dazed and dejected waiting that moment in history when they will see the light of justice. Till then time will tell.

Now that the smoke of emotions settles down, to all our innocent people who were slaughtered for nothing, I seek solace in prayer and pray to Allah (SWT) that He accepts them among his purified martyrs.

The writer is a student at international university of Africa, khartoum sudan