On 8 May, Kenyan police officers illegally cancelled a rally to campaign for economic and social rights in Starehe constituency. This could 'set a bad precedence for future engagements between peaceful citizens and law enforcement officers; in as far as exercising of democratic rights is concerned,' write campaign coordinators the Unga Revolution, in an open letter to the Commissioner of Police.
The Unga Revolution
Tel: 0702 655596
Email: [email][email protected]
Mr Mathew K Iteere
The Commissioner of Police
Kenya Police Headquarters
Vigilance House, Harambee Avenue,
PO Box 30083,
REF: DISRUPTION OF STAREHE UNGA RALLY ON 8/05/2011
We bring to your attention the deliberate move by your officers to abruptly and illegally cancel the above mentioned rally in Starehe constituency, an action contrary to Article 37 of the Constitution of Kenya which allows citizens, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions to public authorities.
We, as members of the public, are part of a campaign called the “Unga Revolution”- a people-driven, non-violent movement aimed at realizing all the rights enshrined in the Kenyan Constitution especially those mentioned in Article 43; the Economic and Social Rights. We are currently building awareness among the general public and rallying support to petition the government and for further action through the judiciary, or for any other means, as may be considered necessary.
We are called into being by the government’s responses to the rising cost of living and on the general unavailability of basic commodities to the average Mwananchi, developments which are anachronistic and ill-willed since they are moving us further and further away from the entitlements that were considered granted with the promulgation of the current constitution.
It is on this premise that a rally had been organized to build awareness among residents of Starehe on the Bill of Rights and on the actions being developed and for which, their consent and involvement is required in this constitutionally protected process.
Contrary to the provisions in the constitution, this rally was arbitrarily and illegally called off by your officers and a lot of unnecessary tension created on the ground by the great number of uniformed and armed General Service Unit personnel who were in at least three lorries, and accompanied by police dogs.
We are hereby expressing our deep concern on the attitude of your officers and on their move, which was not only unconstitutional but also goes against our fundamental human rights as articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
This action is a relic of the old constitution and reminiscent of the dark days when peaceful gatherings were violently dispersed. It can also set a bad precedence for future engagements between peaceful citizens and law enforcement officers; in as far as exercising of democratic rights is concerned.
Since our campaign to petition the government to implement article 43 is nationwide in scope and grassroots in nature, we are hoping that your forces will allow Kenyans all over the country to assemble, discuss and push for the implementation of their rights and that you will accord them ample security as we all strive to work within our rights and responsibilities as set out in the supreme law of the land.
We hope this incident will not be repeated and that reference is made to the meeting and discussion we had with your officers who were on the ground on the day of the last event; 8th of May, 2011.
We expect full cooperation from all your officers.
Bunge La Mwananchi
President of the Republic of Kenya
Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya
Provincial Police Officer, Nairobi
Officer Commanding Police Division, Starehe
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights
UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Association and Assembly