Today from Hiiraan Online:  _
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No answers or justice on 1984 Wagalla massacre as Moi exits

Monday February 10, 2020

On February 10, 1984, Kenyan security forces launched a massive operation that would lead to the death of hundreds in Wajir.

Security forces had descended on the Somali dominated region to reportedly defuse inter-ethnic clashes and mop up illegal guns.

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After four days, hundreds of men lay naked and dead at the Wagalla Airstrip with their bodies ridden with bullets.
The Wagalla massacre remains the greatest form of injustice orchestrated by the government on its own people.

Since then, Kenyans have been treated to a song of promised prosecutions and restorative justice.

The massacre is among the earliest blots on the late President Daniel Arap Moi's rule happening just six years after getting into office.

For the remaining 18 years of his rule, Moi and his government did nothing to deal with the massacre that had claimed hundreds of Kenyans.

For years, the government insisted that only 57 people had been killed in what it called an operation to disarm locals.

It was not until the year 2000 that Deputy President William Ruto, then an Assistant Minister in the Office of the President told parliament that 380 people had been killed.

But even as recent as the last decade, the government has refused to take action even refusing to give relevant documents to the Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission.

Kenya is today engrossed in the state funeral of Moi with the ghosts of the massacre hanging on his double-edged legacy.

Between February 10 and 14 1984, heavily armed security officers descended on the quiet Wajir area rounding up Somali men of the Degodia clan from their homes.

The operation started in the wee hours of February 10 morning with those arrested taken to the Wagalla Airstrip.

Here, they were made to lie on the ground naked with their heads down with no food or water for three days.
On the fourth day, those who could, took to their heels hoping to get past the barbed fence but the security forces opened fire at them.

On February 14, 2014, a monument with names of 482 victims engraved on marble and pasted on a wall was unveiled in Wajir. 

The monument was constructed through the efforts of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) in conjunction with local and international partners.

"These names were taken from the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission report and subjected to a thorough validation exercise for purposes of ensuring that they were indeed names of the people who lost their lives as a result of the massacre," KNCHR said at the time.

Other than this, there is nothing that any Kenyan can say has been done to bring the perpetrators of the massacre to book or ensure justice for the victims.

The only public pronouncement by the government was in the form of a blanket apology by President Uhuru Kenyatta during his annual State of the Nation Address in 2015.

On that day, Uhuru mentioned Wagalla massacre as part of historical injustices that he was apologising for and behalf of his government and past ones..

"To this day, we are still plagued by painful memories of unresolved murders, the existence of torture chambers and detentions without trial; events such as the Wagalla tragedy..." Uhuru said in his speech.

He added; "To move forward as one nation … I stand before you today on my own behalf, that of my government and all past governments, to offer the sincere apology of the Government of the Republic of Kenya to all our compatriots for all past wrongs…"

Uhuru said that this was in line with the TJRC Report which had recommended that all individuals identified as responsible for the planning, implementation, and cover-up of the Bulla Karatasi and Wagalla massacres should be barred from public office or any other position of public authority.

In that speech, Uhuru also instructed the Treasury to establish a Fund of Sh10 billion over the next three years to be used for restorative justice.

By the expiry of the three years, the fund was still not operational with no law to anchor it on.

In November last year, the Office of the Attorney General threw the blame on MPs for failing to put in place a law to operationalise restorative justice.

"We need a formula. You cannot just pay money without some legal framework. This has not been passed by the National Assembly," Mary Wairagu, a senior legal officer in the AG’s office told Senators.

She appeared before them alongside Solicitor General Kennedy Ogetto who said that the government's hands were tied due to the lack of a legal framework.

The TJRC reported that numerous other atrocities were committed by state security agents including torture, brutal beatings, rape and sexual violence, burning of houses and looting of property

"The Commission finds that the Wagalla Massacre, including the detention, torture and killing of the male members of the Degodia tribe at the airstrip, and the rapes, killing of livestock and burning of homes in the villages, was a systematic attack against a civilian population and thus qualifies as a crime against humanity," the report said.

The Commission was unable to determine the precise number of persons murdered in this massacre but accepts that a large number died, possibly close to a thousand.

"The official figure of 57 given by the state therefore grossly underestimates the number of people who were killed at Wagalla and is an example of the generally," the report said.

TJRC also said in its report that the Government refused to make available to the Commission specific documents related to its investigation of this and other massacres in clear violation of the law.

Specifically, the Commission says it did not receive the full set of minutes of meetings of the relevant PSC, DSC, and KIC meetings, and did not receive any minutes of the NSC, despite repeated requests.

"This violation of the TJR Act has severely hindered the ability of the Commission to discover the entire truth and context of these and other violations,"the report said.

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