Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Kenya: How Genocide Begins

A few years ago, I wrote a paper on the archival collections of a man named Raphael Lemkin. Lemkin is the scholar who first coined the word, "genocide" and systematically wrote about its meaning, origins and affects on society. He singlehandedly pushed through the "Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide."

Article 2 of the Convention reads:

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Now read the Vigilante Reporter.

An excerpt:
There are accounts of groups of people moving east across the country toward the capital, instigateing organized ethnic cleansing. In Nakuru, countless died and were injured in clashes between the Kikuyus and Luos and Kalengins. A new displaced persons camp was opened in the stadium for a group of Luos fleeing violence by the Mungiki sect. Saturday afternoon nearly a thousand men, women and children were taken by the red cross to hide in the stadium after the Mungiki sect murdered 6 people the night before. Police presence was heavy after the first day of fighting and things cooled down dramatically on Monday when people could be seen returning to work and shops opening up for business again. The hospital on Friday evening, however, was a horror scene, with over 60 wounded mostly by machete, stoning and arrows.
To add to what is already happening, yesterday's killing of an opposition leader in Nairobi enters the mix. The Washington Post reports:

Even with former U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan in Nairobi to mediate between Kibaki and Odinga, many Kenyans say their country is just a spark away from blazing out of control.

For a while Tuesday, it appeared that the killing of [Mugabe] Were, a 38-year-old lawmaker from Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement, might provide it.

Were was shot once in the head and once in the chest as he was pulling into his driveway, his security guard said. Police are investigating whether it was a robbery, but his supporters immediately called his death a political assassination.

Were was a hero in his district, a mostly poor neighborhood of dirt paths and corrugated-metal homes where he funded an orphanage and paid children's school fees. As a successful candidate for parliament, Were also embodied the hopes Odinga's followers had to win political power.

If you will recall, the 1994 slaughter in Rwanda began in earnest when the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi were killed in a helicopter crash.

All it takes is a spark to ignite the flames. I hope that cooler heads prevail and soon. I hope it's not too late but fear that the time has come and gone to prevent what's about to happen.

May the Universe have mercy on Kenya and all of its people.

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