“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Martin Luther King, Jr

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy Valentines Day 1984

February 14th is a much celebrated holiday in most countries around the world. It is a day of love and candy and flowers. We shower our loved ones with gifts to show how precious they are to us. Well most people do but in 1984 the insensitivity and brutality of a government against its citizens, shattered the dreams of many and left them widows and orphans.

It was a sunny Friday when government police as well as the Kenya army hurriedly took men mainly from the Degodia clan of the Somali tribe into military trucks apparently to identify bandits who had been committing crimes in the district and to turn over illegal weapons.

In the silence of early morning, military men destroying and ransacking villages, ordered the residents to leave their homes immediately. The armed forces then forcibly expelled men from their homes and led them to the ineffective Wagalla airstrip, 14km west of Wajir Town. Military vehicles constantly brought in people from all parts of the district into the airstrip where many others were already being tortured. By the end of the first day, thousands of men had been held in captivity behind the razor-like wire fence. The men were then stripped naked and their movements restricted to the narrow gravel steps either forwards or backwards.

After days without food or water, under the sizzling sun, they were told to lie on their chests on the scorching runway. They spent the nights in the cold, those who defied orders were shot in the head, while others perished of exhaustion. Still others survived drinking urine as water, some were doused with gas and set ablaze all as their families watched helplessly.

Back in the village the women were ruthlessly raped, houses were torched and property looted.

“It was the most horrendous Government operation I have ever seen,” said Bishar Ismail who was then the Wagalla location chief.

“I saw men ferried in military vehicles and directed towards Wagalla airstrip,” he continued.

The exact number of death is still unclear. Government records state that only 386 people were killed but the locals estimate the number at five thousand.

Kenya’s history is riddled with impunity, injustice and torture especially in North Eastern province. Victims of heinous killings in this region are still searching for justice close to two and half decades later. Other massacres perpetrated by government security agencies in Northern Kenya and which still remains a mystery to date include the Bagalla, Garissa Gubay and Malkamaari massacres.

The 27th anniversary of Wagalla massacre will be marked February 14th in two weeks time.

Happy Valentines Day

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin