Kenya: Activists Beaten and Arrested

On February 18, 2009, three Kenyan activists were arrested and beaten by the Kenyan police after peacefully standing outside Parliament. Patrick Kamotho, Philo Ikonya and Fwamba Chrispus were among a handful of Kenyans hoping to grab the attention of Minister for Agriculture, William Ruto and Finance Minister, Uhuru Kenyatta to plead with them to act swiftly to prevent more deaths from starvation in the looming famine that is threatening 10 million Kenyans. They were taken to Central Police Station, where they were being held without charges.

Philo is the President of the Kenya Chapter of PEN, the international society of writers dedicated to the promotion of literature and freedom of expression. Khainga Okembwa, secretary to PEN, wrote this about her arrest:

Philo has been physically brutalised by a police officer, who pulled her chest as she demanded the police give her a phone, which had been taken away. Lawyers Elisha Ongoya and Anne Njogu who are demanding her release so that she can receive medical treatment. By the time of writing this note, after spending the whole afternoon at the police station, they had denied her bond and release.

Philo has now been released. She is, however, “badly badly bruised,” and was released missing one shoe with “her very dress in tatters. Kamotho and Fwamba are still in custody.”

For More Information Contact:

Dipesh Pabari, Tel: 0733989082, Email:
George Nyongesa, Tel: 0720451235, Email:
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Repeatedly, this government has broken its promise to uphold the Constitution.

Section 74.1 of the Constitution reads, “No person shall be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading punishment or other treatment.” While section 72.1.a-j, spells out the conditions under which one might be arrested. From the available information, it’s impossible to gauge what possible reason the government has to harass and arrest Philo and other protesters. Even if there are legitimate reasons, the Constitution expressly forbids degrading treatment.

Is this our fate with this “new” government made up of old faces and even older allegiances? This government is now seeking advice from the tyrant dictator Moi, who ruled through fear and intimidation, using Nyayo House as his secret torture chamber.

We are losing the freedoms we are yet to have.
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What do you do?

Take action.

I adapt the following from Shailja Patel.

1. Send a text message NOW, to Kenya’s President, Prime Minister, and Attorney General. Use the one below, or craft your own.

Mr. Kibaki / Mr. Odinga – Uphold the Constitution. Defend Civil Rights. Free Human Rights Activists Patrick Kamotho and Fwamba Chrispus.

To President Mwai Kibaki (via his spokesperson, Alfred Mutua):
Cellphone number + 254 721 240 443

To Prime Minister Raila Odinga
Cellphone + 254 733 620 736

Attorney General:
Amos Wako + 254 722 772 453

2. Send an email

To President Mwai Kibaki

To Prime Minister Raila Odinga

Suggested Message:

Mr Kibaki / Mr. Odinga, I urge you to act immediately to release Fwamba Chrispus, and Patrick Kamotho from illegal police custody. Uphold the Constitution, as you promised you would. Defend Civil Rights

Signed: Name
Organization / Affiliation (if any)
City, Country

3. Text or email your MP and other parliamentarians. Urge them to uphold the Constitution and defend Civil Rights. Contact details for Kenyan MPs here.

All three activists had been released on bond. The bond document has been rejected for some reason, and they are back in jail.

Call! Text! Email!

KenyaImagine are tracking this story. Check in with them.

3 thoughts on “Kenya: Activists Beaten and Arrested

  1. You tell em bruv! Free Speech and the end of Religious rule! These are the ideals I am pushing for… I promise to aquaint myself with the conflict more thamn I have… thanks for informing me.

  2. That is the Kenya we have today: police brutalizing own citizens. This is no longer about PNU/ODM/ODM-K. Unfortunately, our politicians have succeeded in dividing Kenyans so much that few people can see that all of these parties are different faces of the same monster. So, people will celebrate because their man who is responsible for hunger has, ‘escaped’ a censure motion. We are being led by a government of devils: people who do not mind sacrificing thousands of lives just to remain in power. For how long shall this continue, dear Kenyans?

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