Sunday, June 14, 2015

Kenyan public find themselves between a hard place and a rock

Al-Shabaab has attacked again, but at least this time round they decided to be men enough and attacked a Kenyan military base in Lamu and of course they were not only repelled but were killed like insects dying from a deadline insect repellent or spray losing 10 of their fighters as well as a cache of weapons and ammunition including rocket propelled grenades and automatic rifles.
This does not mean that I condone this barbaric groups attack whatsoever but we know in the past they had gone for soft targets and killings of innocent unarmed people so now that they have at least tried their luck in vain at a military target it’s a positive move even though generally committing such heinous attacks anywhere is simply against the true teachings of Islam which the group has continuously maligned.

My biggest worry however is the effects of such Al-Shabaab attacks on ordinary people. Whenever you speak to residents of any site of a terror attack anywhere in Kenya their story of grief is always the same, that they find themselves between these vagabond attackers who have no regards for life whatsoever as well as our own trigger happy security personnel who instead of going for the real culprits simply round off any Dick and Harry, beat them up and lock them in the name of a security crackdown.
We all know what unfortunately happened in Garissa when unknown gunmen killed military personnel sometimes last year. A military unit descended on the town of Garissa, rounded up locals, beat them up and did not only stop there but went ahead and burnt “Suuq mugdi” market which is the main source of livelihood for many Garissa residents.

This was not only uncalled for but counterproductive because you simply loose trust of the people you swore to protect as well as destroy the same country you also swore to protect because as far as I know Garissa is in Kenya. Some people have even compared the governments reaction to the Garissa attack and the cold blood murder of so many police officers in Kapedo which the government never retaliated like in Garissa when in reality more security personnel were unfortunately killed in Kapedo than Garissa.

This double standard should stop because no life is sacred than the other and the government must treat all Kenyans equal because true justice knows no tribe or region. Unless of course.

I believe the government has a plan to fight off or prevent such terror attacks which I do not want to know because it is prerogative of the government of the day to provide security, but what disturbs me is the security agent’s reaction whenever they are deployed to scenes of such attacks.

Assuming everyone is a suspect, rounding innocent people, beating them and locking them up is not how to respond to such heinous terror attacks. If this is indeed in the government plan then it is wrong and must be stopped otherwise we might not see any difference between terrorist and professional soldiers or police who are trained with the tax payers money and are supposed to protect people and the country. This jungle rule must stop and security agencies should be the first ones to uphold the rule of law and protect human rights of suspects because at the end of the someone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

It is therefore unfortunate that many Kenyans who are victims of these terror attacks often find themselves between a hard place and a rock, because Al-Shabaab is out to kill them and the government which is meant to protect them comes round to harass, beat them up and destroy their property. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that turning against your own people is wrong and am sure this is not a directive from President Uhuru Kenya because our President is a gentleman.

If that is the case, who then has the balls to order hits and public harassment and intimidation like what happened in Garissa.

Guled Mohamed is a strategic communications consultant. The views expressed here are his own.