We always complain about the brutality of Ugandan police during demonstrations, arrests of opposition leaders, and university strikes. But Africa has to look East and carefully study our neighbours from Kenya whose police has no soul when it comes to handling public demonstrations.
We have seen Kenyan media showcase footage of extreme brutality by the Kenyan police and army as they fight both recent and previous demonstrations. Much as we shouldn’t forget the time Besigye’s tormentor brutality beat the opposition leader, a scene that brought out extreme bitterness among opposition supporters.
Am not saying the Ugandan police or army is without fault because we have see a few scenes of the army beating up people in Kasese, shooting a couple of people and canning some students. But when we ‘fly’ to Kenya we see extremely bitter footage of the military police rounding up individuals and canning them in public. Today an army office was seen kicking a rioter who had fallen down in what seems like an act of exorcism of anger on the fallen individual.
The police in Kenya was also seen showering Nairobi University students with extreme amounts of teargas from all corners. To quantify the amount of teargas, let me compare it with a firefighter’s truck spraying water on a burning building. But to the Kenyans, this is what they can an everyday riot unlike ours that last a few minutes only for Police to disperse people with some canisters and everyone hides.
In Kenya, the police is known to go into corners or hidden areas and pick a few people who become the ‘Jesus’ of the strike. These are usually kicked or canned in public. In fact the Kenyan police recently paraded university students who were rioting, laid them on the flour and canned with rather big sticks. Even if an individual tried to run, they would leave a crowd chase the fellow and descend on him with a couple of kicks.
The army is common when dispersing crowds and since these guys aren’t the best at protecting themselves from foreign threats say ‘Al shabab’, however they seem to have mastered the art of canning the enemy. Unfortunately the ‘enemy’ of the Kenyan army is the one who foots their bills through taxes.
One wonders whether it’s about being harsh in character or culture of doing things the hard way. The Political scene in Kenya is filled with a lot of bitterness and harshness, both online and real life where citizens try to assassinate their former Prime minister. These people are not intimidated by violence and they fight until they achieve a desired goal.
Unfortunately there is a growing loom of police brutality in the region and this isn’t the best way to portray our image. But some will argue citizens have freedom to demonstrate since it’s a constitutional right. Let’s remember that freedom is an illusion and it’s never cheap.