5 May 2014

Kenyan Blasts Prove That Collective Punishment Is Still Not Counter-Terrorism


No one disputes that Kenya has a serious problem with domestic terrorism. This weekend was further proof, if any was needed: another seven people dead, and scores injured in four separate attacks.

But Kenya's response isn't helping. While the violence may have its root in Somalia, this doesn't mean that Kenya's large ethnic-Somali population deserves to be punished.

"We have arrested almost 4,000 people in this operation," said Kenya's interior minister Joseph Ole Lenku in early April, referencing Kenya's high-profile Operation Usalama (peace) Watch, designed to put an end to the shootings, bomb blasts and grenade attacks attributed to Somali Islamist militant group Al Shabaab. Since then, even more have been detained - most without charge and in deplorable conditions.

What Ole Lenku didn't say was that almost all of these new inmates, bar the odd unfortunate Ethiopian, were Somali refugees or ethnic-Somali Kenyans.

They were rounded up en masse as Kenya's hapless police, unable to track the real culprits, went in for straight-up racial profiling instead. This isn't counter-terrorism - it's state-sponsored xenophobia.

He also neglected to mention, although he must surely have known it to be true, that this cack-handed, indiscriminate approach - which included ...

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