Police kill more protesters in second day of Kenya democracy demonstrations – the UN asks for money, and donors threaten aid cuts

Police used life ammunition to suppress protesters in a second day of demonstrations to protest what they believe were fraud and irregularities in the recent presidential election in Kenya.

On the first day of the demonstrations, the AP reported that “Police firing tear gas and bullets halted protests Wednesday, blocking mass rallies the opposition hoped would show the power behind their demands for the president to step down. At least two people were fatally shot by police. Opposition leader Raila Odinga called for three days of protests after violence that killed more than 600 people and international mediation failed to move President Mwai Kibaki. Observers say the vote tally from the Dec. 27 election was rigged. ‘We will go the extra mile for democracy. We are ready for bloodshed’, said Philomen Bett, a teacher in the western city of Eldoret … Riots and ethnic killings after the disputed vote have marred Kenya’s image as a stable democratic oasis in a war-ravaged region and damaged its tourist-dependent economy. The violence has also aggravated ethnic tensions and conflicts over land. The United Nations, meanwhile, launched an appeal Wednesday for nearly $42 million to help half a million Kenyans affected by the violence. UN humanitarian chief John Holmes said the money was needed to provide food, shelter, health care and other services for the next six months. ‘We are appealing for this to cover the needs of some half a million — 500,000 people who have been affected by the violence’, he told a news conference. Police had declared Wednesday’s protests illegal. In Nairobi, helmeted riot police on horseback chased small clusters of protesters from skyscraper-lined streets downtown. Businesses shut as tear gas was fired, and thousands of panicked office workers in suits and high heels streamed away on foot … In Kisumu and Eldoret, thousands of rowdy young men massed, first marching peacefully. As the crowds grew, police lobbed tear gas canisters, forcing them disperse. They regrouped, and police then fired live rounds, clearing the streets. ‘The police are overreacting. People are just demanding their rights’, said one of the wounded, 26-year-old Dominic Okoth, in Kisumu, where burning tires blocked roads and sent columns of acrid smoke into the air. Thirteen nations, including the United States and Britain, increased pressure on politicians to find a solution, threatening Wednesday to cut aid to the government ‘if the commitment of the government of Kenya to good governance, democracy, the rule of law and human rights weakens’. Foreign and local election observers have said the vote count in the election was deeply flawed. Although the electoral chief pronounced Kibaki the victor, he later said he had been pressured to do so and did not know who won. U.S. Ambassador Michael Ranneberger, speaking by telephone hookup Wednesday from Kenya to a conference at the Center for Strategic International Studies, a Washington think tank, said a power-sharing arrangement was “the only thing to do,” but that it would not be easy to persuade Kibaki and Odinga to agree … The ambassador ruled out a new election. ‘Neither side has the money for it’, he said”. This AP report is posted here.

Forced adult circumcision — often deadly – is part of Kenya's post-election violence

Forced adult circumcision as a method of terror — and often, execution leading to death — in Kenya’s post-electoral violence is now entering the annals of horror stories almost too horrible to contemplate.

The lining up of people in Sierra Leone to wait to have their hand(s) or arm(s) amputated — the hand that they might have voted with, had they been adult, but many victims were children and babies — was a previous African horror story, in the context of ethnic violence and elections.

Democracy, it is clear, is not just having elections. And voting is not necessarily democracy.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo a few years ago, women were buried alive, standing up. THey were told to raise their hands so they could be dug up right after the dirt was piled on them — they might have belived they would get out of the horror alive. But the intention never was to get them out. Reports indicate that the field of bones of arms and hands sticking out of the earth existed for a while after this awful atrocity.

In Rwandan violence in 1994, Hutus cut the achilles tendons of their intended victims — including a group of 11 Belgian UN peacekeepers — so they could not flee before slowly being finished off.

How is it possible to be so cruel? And, for what?

Now the AP is reporting from Kenya that “In the violence that has followed Kenya’s disputed presidential election, a notorious gang has been mutilating the genitals of both men and women in the name of circumcision — inflicting a brutal punishment on members of a rival tribe that does not traditionally circumcise. The attacks do not appear to be widespread, but they drive home how a fight touched off by opposition allegations that Kenya’s president stole the election has exploded into a broader conflict fueled by ethnic resentments in what had been one of Africa’s most stable nations. Many of the mutilation victims belong to the Luo tribe of opposition presidential candidate Raila Odinga, say witnesses and even a recruiter for the gang itself. The gang, called the Mungiki, draws mostly from President Mwai Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe, which has long dominated politics and business in this East African country. Mungiki, which means ‘multitude’ in Kikuyu, originally promoted traditional Kikuyu practices, including female genital mutilation. But in recent years it has become involved in extortion and murder and it also provides hired muscle for politicians. The recruiter called forced ‘circumcisions’ simple revenge on Luos for attacks on Kikuyus since the Dec. 27 election. More than 600 people have been reported killed in the upheaval … the gang has been outlawed since 2002, after its members beheaded 21 people in a turf war with a rival gang. Circumcision is a rite of passage for male members of the Kikuyu and most other Kenyan tribes, but the Luos do not practice it … K., interviewed in the Nairobi slum of Kibera, reported seeing five men harmed in this way, including at least two whose penises were cut off and thrown into a fire. She said she believed those men died because she saw the attackers throw the bodies behind some kiosks … A surgeon at Kenyatta National Hospital, the main government hospital in the capital, said he had operated on two men with injuries to their penises, at least one of whom was a Luo. ‘There were cuts around the foreskin, probably an attempt at circumcision’, the doctor said, speaking on condition of anonymity. A mortuary assistant in Nairobi said out of 78 bodies brought to his facility since the fighting started, two adult males appeared to have been crudely circumcised before being hacked to death … John Holmes, the United Nations undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said he had received reports of genital mutilation.  He said the United Nations calls on ‘all leaders to stop this kind of violence, to nip this kind of ethnic fighting and singling out people for attacks on the basis of ethnicity in the bud before it becomes any worse’. ” [!!!] This AP report is poste here.