KANERE Editor Assaulted and His House Destroyed
An accidental house fire sparked an assault on KANERE’s editor, who demands justice. The editor believes that the attackers could be motivated by his involvement in the refugee free press and that they had ill motives prior to his assault on 10th November 2009.
The 10th of November 2009 was a sorrowful day for the Kakuma News Reflector, as that day saw our current editor viciously assaulted and his house burnt and destroyed.
While working at school as deputy head teacher, the editor was alerted by friends that a fire was growing in his neighbor’s compound and spreading towards his house. Prior to the fire, a few women had been cooking near the dry fence. The fire consumed the fence before the editor’s family and friends arrived, but they managed to rescue his house.
When the editor arrived at his home he found the fire steadily stretching towards his house. He immediately reached for his camera to take photographs of the event. But he was prevented from doing so by his neighbors.
“I was immediately questioned as to why I took the picture, and a man jumped up to fight me while several neighbors complained that I took pictures of the burning fence,” he recounts. “One attacker went ahead kicking my house door in an attempt to destroy it.”
The editor soon left the scene to report the act to police and camp security offices. That night, when he arrived back home after filing a statement with the Kakuma Police Station, the editor was assaulted by three men. The attackers were waiting to surprise the editor inside his house. As the editor was viciously attacked, bystanders called for help.
Police and LWF security called an ambulance and the editor was transported to the camp main hospital for treatment, where he was admitted for two days and discharged.
The editor’s colleague, a fellow KANERE journalist, arrived at the scene soon after the fire broke out, and he too was denied the opportunity to take any photographs by the same neighbors who had refused the editor. Violently, he was ordered to leave the compound immediately.
During the time that he was admitted to the main hospital, the editor could not report to his duties in LWF where he serves as a Deputy Head Teacher. The medical assessment indicated that he sustained harm, as recorded in an official government P3 Form.
The editor lost many valuable properties to the attackers, who also destroyed his house.
The editor admits that he had preexisting conflict with the three men who attacked him. When he was discharged from the hospital, he was refused the opportunity to return home by the same men.
It is not known what really motivated the attackers, but the editor strongly believes that it may be due to humanitarian agencies’ opposition to the free press in the camp. He bases this opinion on comments from the attackers before the attack and afterwards, when he was stopped from going back to his house. They made negative remarks on his involvement with KANERE, he says, and implied that KANERE was “blocking their resettlement attempts.”
The editor believes that this has turned out to be a case of a whole community turning against a refugee journalist.
The perpetrators have not yet been arrested. Refugees have no means by which to sue criminals in the Kenyan courts, even in cases where violent attacks are openly perpetrated and the attackers are known.
Will there be justice in this case? The editor awaits action from UNHCR and local government officials.