Pigs, Politicians, Police and Protests

Last week, Kenyans held a demonstration, aptly referred to as “Occupy Parliament,” to protest against attempts by Members of Parliament to increase their salaries. Kenyan MPs are among the highest paid in the world, yes the world – not East Africa, not Africa, not the developing world – the entire world. However, it seems as though they can never be satisfied with their extravagant salaries and all the perks that come with their positions. They live to ask for more money. Their gluttonous behavior is unrivaled, I must say. This is one of the reasons why they are referred to as MPigs these days.

Occupy Parliament was one of a kind. The organizers brought a pig and several piglets that bore the names of some MPs on them. They then poured blood on the pavement. This was all done so as to symbolize the greed of the MPs. The pigs, being the nondiscriminatory consumers that they are, proceeded to lick the blood and enjoy their day out. They fulfilled their role for sure. According to the organizers no animal was harmed in organizing and pulling this stunt. No pigs were killed at the protest. The organizers bought the cow blood from the slaughterhouse. Glad they cleared the air on that.

What started as a peaceful protest quickly turned violent when the police showed up ready for battle. The police brutally beat up unarmed protesters, fired tear gas to disperse them, and hosed them down using water cannons that miraculously appear when the police are most determined to showcase their “power.”  The thing is – all that the protesters were armed with were their voices,  songs and protest signs. What did the police think the protesters would do? Use their voices to overpower them? Simultaneously speak in Greek thus throwing them off? Use their liberation songs to disarm them? Handcuff them with the protest signs? What!?! I, like many others, would like to know what was so threatening about unarmed peaceful protesters that made the police react with such brute force.

Our police force has to be one of the most bizarre out there. They like to flex their muscle when there is peace. The moment a legitimate security issue arises, they literally are nowhere to be found as was seen recently in the case of Bungoma. It seems that rapid response doesn’t even attempt to exist in their vocabulary.

“Every person has the right, peaceably and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket, and to present petitions to public authorities” Are the police unaware of the existence of Article 37 in the Kenyan Constitution? Why are they so determined to take us back to those dark days when suppression, torture and police brutality were the order of the day? Is it really that difficult for the police force to place such protests in the larger context of fighting for equality and justice for all Kenyans – a group that they belong to? It’s not as if they are exempt from the personal and professional socio-economic struggles that arise from the insanity of MPs.

During the protest, there were 17 people who were arrested. Since their initial arrest, their charges have been changing rapidly. As of recent reports, they have been charged with taking part in a riot, breach of peace and cruelty to animals. By the time I hit the publish button these charges may have changed. If the constitution states that you have the right to do something why then do the police arrest you for exercising that right? Does the constitution not mean anything? Is it just there to give us the semblance of a democracy? Then protesters are charged with taking part in a riot. Really? What riot? Yes, the teargas might have affected the vision of the police but did it also make them hallucinate? Who should be charged with breach of peace in all honesty? The unarmed or those who deployed excessive force? The last charge is just laughable. Cruelty to animals? Really!? This coming from the same justice system that lets poachers walk away with a very gentle slap on the wrist!?!…ha…yeah…o.k.

Now there is an MP who plans on suing the Occupy Parliament organizers for using pigs especially since one of them had his name on it. According to news reports, he said that being associated with an animal that his religion prohibits is an insult and an affront to his religious liberty. Funny how people wave the religious flag only when it is convenient for them. I can’t think of any religion that condones the MPs ridiculous and misguided behavior. I can’t think of any religion that encourages greed, injustice, corruption and abuse of power.  But somehow that doesn’t seem to stop the MPs.

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