Not Such a Happy New Year…

Jan 2, 2008

… for those burned to death inside a church in Kenya yesterday. The victims were members of the Kikuyu tribe, whose ruling party is suspected of having rigged the recent election; the mob that doused the church with gasoline and set it alight was mostly Kalenjins, Luhyas and Luos, the ethnic group of the party dominated by the opposition, who is contesting the electoral results.

Genocide Watch has released a genocide alert for Kenya in the face of the mounting violence:

“Ethnic massacres are an indicator that the risk of genocide in Kenya has risen to Stage 6, the Preparation stage. Kenya has not yet descended into actual genocide. However, the next stage in the process is actual genocide, and Kenya is close to that stage.

Genocide can be bilateral, with perpetrators from two (or more) groups killing members of other groups because of their ethnic identity. Burundi had such bilateral genocide from 1993 – 1995.

Genocide Watch makes the following recommendations:

1. No country should recognize or congratulate President Kibaki for his “re-election” until the results are confirmed by independent election inquiries.

2. Mr. Odinga should publically denounce violence against Kikuyus, and President Kibaki should forbid violence against Luos and other ethnic groups.

3. President Kibaki and Mr. Odinga should declare their willingness to abide by the decision of an independent election inquiry commission whose members are named by both men, including trusted leaders from other African countries.

4. Both President Kibaki and Mr. Odinga should refrain from holding mass rallies, and should firmly forbid their supporters from joining criminal militias that are murdering and looting. Members of such militias should be arrested quickly and tried for their crimes.

5. Religious and civil society groups in Kenya should vigorously oppose the violence and protect people who are targeted because of their ethnic identity.

6. The African Union should begin immediate planning to send well equipped police forces to Kenya to quell the ethnic rioting there. The United Nations should condemn the violence and financially support African Union efforts to mediate the dispute and prevent further violence.”

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Charli Carpenter is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She is the author of 'Innocent Women and Children': Gender, Norms and the Protection of Civilians (Ashgate, 2006), Forgetting Children Born of War: Setting the Human Rights
Agenda in Bosnia and Beyond (Columbia, 2010), and ‘Lost’ Causes: Agenda-Setting in Global Issue Networks and the Shaping of Human Security (Cornell, 2014). Her main research interests include national security ethics, the protection of civilians, the laws of war, global agenda-setting, gender and political violence, humanitarian affairs, the role of information technology in human security, and the gap between intentions and outcomes among advocates of human security.