EDITORIAL: Raila Odinga, where is Miguna Miguna?
It is appalling how short and failing human memories are. And most times, facts are never documented for any reference.
The leader or presumed leader of Kenya’s coalition of opposition forces, whose words are laws in the ears of opposition supporters, Raila Odinga, may have gone ahead with his life after ‘mending fences’ with the power that be. Now, Odinga appears to have entered into the good book of the Kenyatta government. But it is instructive to ask Odinga if he is aware of the whereabouts of his foot soldiers, among whom is Miguna Miguna.
On Tuesday, May 1st, Odinga finally cancelled his call for boycott of certain goods and services from certain providers like Safaricom, Brookside, Haco and Bidco, which he said benefited from the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta. That was less than two months after he agreed to work with his long-time rival, President Kenyatta.
In protest of the last year election which produced Kenyatta for his second term, Odinga asked his supporters on November 7th, 2017 to boycott those firms. And they did.
Mr Odinga has rescinded this call and told his supporters that they are now free to buy products from the four firms.
“Today I announce the end of the boycott of products from Safaricom, Bidco, Brookside and Haco. Our supporters can now feel free to use the products from the companies we had asked them to boycott last year,’ said Mr Odinga during Labour Day celebrations at Uhuru Park.
But while he announced this, Miguna Miguna has not found justice. And so are other opposition supporters, dead and alive. Miguna was reported to have travelled back to Canada from Dubai where Kenyatta’s Immigration officers forced him to.
Miguna Miguna has faced a lot of troubles for his support for Odinga. He was everywhere on December 12th during the mock inauguration of Odinga. It was not surprising that the authorities arrested Miguna alongside other opposition elements while Odinga, the arrowhead of opposition was not even questioned. Kenyan government went farther with Miguna’s case and sent him on exile to Canada. The government even disobeyed the court orders to ensure that Miguna gets full punishment for his actions.
In March, Miguna attempted to return home but he could not go farther than the airport where officials blocked his entrance to the country. According to a statement released by Kenyan immigration services, Miguna failed to provide the “requisite documents” to be allowed entry. And so he was pushed back to an Emirate Flight enroute Dubai. But Miguna refused boarding, citing an international law that guarantees him the right to choose his flight and demanding: “I am not going anywhere….where is my luggage? Where is my passport? You cannot take me from my country by force.
The Kenyan government accused Miguna of throwing a “tantrum” after footage emerged of him being manhandled by security staff at Nairobi’s airport. After some two days of resistance, Miguna was finally taken to Dubai from where he went to Canada where he is till today.
Odinga is now happy with Kenyatta but he has not issued a stern statement warning the government of the dangers of hurting Miguna Miguna, the way other human rights activists have done.
On 29 March, Irungu Houghton, the Executive Director of Amnesty International for Kenya, released a statement calling for authorities to allow Miguna to enter the country to participate in judicial proceedings, saying “The way Miguna was treated showed blatant disregard for his human rights, after the High Court ordered that he be allowed to re-enter the country. The Kenyan government must also respect and protect the right to freedom of expression and allow journalists to freely report on the case without harassment, intimidation or attacks.”
Amnesty said: “The continuous disregard for court orders and attacks on the media is steadily eroding the rule of law and weakening human rights safeguards in the country,” and requested to “also launch a thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the unlawful use of force by the police to prevent journalists from doing their job”.
On 12 April 2018, former Kenyan Chief Justice Dr Willy Mutunga was reported to have called Migunas treatment inhumane and unconstitutional in an interview with John Githongo, He is quoted as stating that “It is nauseating. It is very painful,”
On 28 March 2018, Human Rights Watch issued a statement calling for Miguna’s release. Otsieno Namwaya of Human Rights watch said “Kenyan authorities should urgently obey the numerous court orders to either release or produce Miguna in court. Holding him at the airport without any form of judicial review, in violation of court orders, is a blatant example of arbitrary detention.”
We can only remind Odinga of the African proverb that a wise man does not throw away the umbrella that shielded him from rain because another rainy season will surely come.
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