Police Torture in Eastleigh
The Muslim congregation’s prayer turned into a battle with police following a large scale security operation in Eastleigh.
It was on Friday 18 April 2014, early in a busy suburb of Eastleigh predominantly occupied by Somalis and a centre of interest in the continued crack down in search of terrorists.
The Muslim worshipers regardless of their gender and age were dressed in religious attire of white colors and converged in different mosques and open places for congregational prayer despite the operation “Usalama Watch”.
The prayer turned into an ugly scene of threats to shoot and arbitrary arrest of worshipers in the two Mosques located on the 8th and 9th streets of Eastleigh. The government motive was to relocate urban refugees and asylum seekers to the isolated refugee camps in a large scale operation to move refugees and illegal immigrants out of urban centers in Kenya.
The convoy of four police trucks arrived near the Mosques shortly before the end of the Friday prayer. The trucks were labeled GK (Government of Kenya) and inside the vehicles there were loads of uniformed military men armed to the teeth. Within a short while they arrested a woman among others and harshly threw her into the vehicle. At close range, a police officer who had already cocked his gun and was acting as though targeting an enemy was behind a land rover, a woman suddenly covered her head with her hands from any bullets which may come from the gun. It was like a drama but a live and awful scenario. There was a huge outcry against police activity in this neighborhood for some months.
According to Somalis, they feel their community is the target. “We are targeted for nothing, you can’t look for terrorists in this manner, we are not terrorists,” Sheik Mohamed who did not agree to say his other names stated in an interview.
The KANERE reporter who arrived a short while after the incident was also not allowed to speak with the people in captivity by police.
The worshipers who had just performed their prayers suddenly found themselves arrested without some identification documents! A Kenyan Somali Mohamed Osman was also not left out in the arrest.
Mohamed was arrested despite being a Kenyan. A tall and light skinned typical Somali man dressed in long white gown, a white cap, and with a naturally long beard, he may have been an obvious suspect. His resistance to the arrest was welcomed by the crowd who shouted harsh words and screamed at the armed police. The physical confrontation continued until he produced a national identity card that proved he was a Kenyan. Mr. Osman claimed to have sustained some injuries and was later treated at Madina medical center in Eastleigh.
The police further arrested over fifty worshipers as “terror suspects” and took them off to Kasarani Stadium for further screening. The arrest forced the suspects to leave behind their belongings including bags, clothes and shoes.
At Kasarani Stadium the humanitarian condition was unbearable as there are few sanitation facilities and severe problems associated with overcrowding. When all the police cells were filled up the detainees had to spend many cold nights in the open place of the Stadium.
The refugees and asylum seekers who have suffered in swoops have many negative expressions about the Kenya police and the country’s security apparatus. The refugees have accused the police in the swoops of demanding bribes, extortion and sexual harassment but the Kenyan police boss declined the said allegations.
Many refugees spent more than two weeks at Kasarani Stadium before being deported to Somalia or forcefully being relocated to refugee camps.
As at the end of May, Kenya government figures stated close to 700 illegal migrants had been deported. UNHCR confirmed that about 12,000 refugees in the urban centers have been relocated to the refugee camps of Dadaab and Kakuma.