Mandera Bloodbath: Uhuru Kenyatta Encouraging Proliferation of Arms
In March 2000, Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda trooped to Nairobi. Weighing heavily on their minds was the matter of Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa. Ideas were exchanged, chests were thumped, this was going to be the last time warlords were getting a reprieve. From here, countries would swing into action. Anyone caught offside would do their time behind bars. Talk time was over, it was time for action. They signed the Nairobi Declaration on the Problem of the Proliferation of Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa, and with it sent out high-powered delegations to notorious flashpoints. They would bring back possible remedies to this menace. They had their work cut out.
The Kenyan team had a litany of issues to deliberate upon before setting out. They sat down and drew a mop up plan. When it came to listing down locations for action, there were no prizes for guessing who got first priority – Mandera. In the team doing duty for Kenya were young researchers deliberately sent out to collect data, analyze and present the results and possible recommendations going forward. Ibrahim Farah, Aisha Ahmad, and Daud Omar camped in Mandera cris-crossing Kenya’s border communities with Ethiopia and Somalia for the state-of-the-art information. When their report was ripe for public consumption, it had shattering revelations.
“The District Officer in Mandera, Mr. Hassan Bilow, in a moment of frustration stated that “small arms have no life of their own nor proliferated in a vacuum, but present themselves as symptoms of complex matters in utter mess … and unless the various conflicts and other factors supporting the demand for arms are checked and amicably resolved, complex lethal weapons will find their way into Kenyan borders and the Horn of Africa in general.” According to Bilow, most arms flowing into Kenya come from Somalia and create a significant problem, particularly along the vast unmonitored stretches of the border. Mr. Bilow also stated that Somalia attracts clandestine arms dealers from the region who take advantage of the state of lawlessness and use Somali agents on the ground to trade weapons.”
“Clan factions move arms from the Ethiopian border to Burhaje, Somalia to Mandera, Kenya. Arms are also smuggled through Bula Hawa into Mandera from the Malkasuftu/Dollo corridor, supplying weapons for both the Somali and Kenyan markets. Arms also travel from Moyale, Ethiopia through Moyale, Kenya to Elwak, Kenya and then to Elwak, Somalia. The Moyale-Elwak transit route supplies weapons to the entire region from the illicit markets in Elwak, Somalia. From there Somalia sends weapons to Mandera, Kenya and back to Elwak, Kenya, supplying Nairobi’s illicit weapons markets.”
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There are many lessons to learn from the foregoing discovery, one that stands out is that Mandera’s bloodbath is more than what our media shows us, and when Nairobi’s backdoor gun-trade can be traced to a Mandera supply chain, it ceases to be a North Eastern Kenya problem it becomes a national emergency issue. Uhuru Kenyatta chooses not to look at it that way. Launching a countrywide mop up would be more like it but, he, instead opts to scare innocent Mandera residents most whom are as concerned about the underworld illegal proliferation of the arms as the government. But why should they worry about Uhuru Kenyatta’s mop up if they are innocent, you ask?
“In 2008, the Kenyan government launched a joint police military operation aimed at disarming warring militias in the Mandera region of North-Eastern Kenya. In this operation, Kenyan police targeted 10 towns and villages , rounding up the population beating and torturing male residents en masse, and indulging in widespread looting and destruction of property. Members of the security forces raped women in their homes while the men were being tortured in the streets. The operation left more than 1,200 injured, one dead and at least a dozen women raped.”
“In some communities, elders pleaded with the commanders to relent and negotiated the release of their men in return for the surrender of the elders’ identity cards, redeemable upon the production of weapons in three days. With the blessings of the military commanders, families organized themselves and purchased weapons from Somalia in order to hand them over to the police and army and reclaim their identity cards”
Kenya: Bring the Guns or You’ll Die. Torture, Rape, and Other Serious Human Rights Violations by Kenyan Security Forces in the Mandera Triangle – http://books.google.co.ke/books?id=O9b0km7BVAoC&lpg=PA1&ots=a_y0jpMPbi&dq=Disarmament%20Mandera%20Kenya&lr&pg=PA4#v=onepage&q&f=false
Mandera residents have been here before, and every instance they’ve emerged the losers. What this Uhuru Kenyatta threatened mop up will do will be to force innocent civilians to buy guns across the porous borders in readiness for the handing over. It is the only means to avoid a beating from the indiscriminate soulless red-berets. It is the most assured way to feed the ever breeding trade in small arms and light weapons. Thanks to the President, we have more illegal guns in the wrong hands.