Archive for December 2010
For five and a half months , Uganda police have been on the look out for alleged ‘‘Islamic’’ terrorists. Several arrests including renditions have been carried out, repotedly with a high degree of human rights abuses. Today the police in south western Uganda, have closed an Islamic Quran school in Bukomansimbi-Masaka District, on suspicion the school could be linked to Islamic militancy. The police spokesperson in the area, said they were tipped off by local residents regarding the schools activities. Sources in the area said the school was simply Islamic madras but northing much.
‘‘I’m absolutely surprised by the police’s actions. This school has been in existence for several years teaching children how to recite the Quran. So is it a crime for children to learn their religion?’’ a Journalist in the area questioned the police’s actions while speaking to this blogger in a telephone interview.
The school principal was not available at the time of the Police raid but his wife has been taken in for questioning.
If there is one man afraid of death, then its Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni. He has been quoted by the whistle blower website WikiLeaks telling the United States government that he feared Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi would shoot down his plane as he travelled over international airspace. Thanks to WikiLeaks, we now know the Military general is as afraid as a toddler)))). President Museveni is reported to have told former American Ambassador , Jendayi Frazer that he feared Col. Gaddafi wanted to assassinate him because he opposed his push for the creation of a United States of Africa. Museveni who is a long-term friend of Gaddafi disagreed with him during an African Union summit when the latter proposed the creation of a United States of Africa. According to WikiLeaks, Museveni is reported to have told Jendayi Frazer that Gaddaffi is a problem for Africa because he reportedly wants to push for an Arab/Islamic agenda.
Legal experts have expressed fear Faridah Hamubu could serve a long jail term in Uganda on grounds of attempting to help a suspect escape from prison. ”in case the women are found guilty of attempting to assist a suspect escape from prison, they will serve a length jail term in Uganda’’ a legal expert said on condition of anonymity. The elderly Hamubu was recently arrested at Uganda’s Luzira Prisons, for allegedly attempting to smuggle a knife concealed inside a pineapple she had brought for her son Omar Awadh Omar. Police in Kampala told a media briefing today that two women would soon be produced in court for attempting to help a terror suspect escape from prison. The women include Faridah Hamubu and Fatuma saidi, a step mother to Omar Awadh. Police said Fatuma who lives in Kampala was the one who reportedly packed the foodstuffs taken to Luzira prison. It was difficult for this publication to independently confirm this allegation since access to both women is restricted. Omar Awadh, a Kenya businessman at the centre of this story is being held in Uganda on allegations of masterminding the July 11 Kampala bombings, which killed over 79 soccer fans. The intricacy of this knife smuggling case has left the Ugandan public confused and struggling to establish reasons why the accused women could have attempted to smuggle a knife inside prison cells. I interviewed a few people on the streets of Kampala to find out what they thought.
Omondi (Bus driver Kampala-Nairobi route)
‘‘Utter rubbish, a knife inside a pineapple! How is that possible? I highly doubt if these women really had a knife on them. I think it’s just another plan to have them charged’’ the bus driver roared.
Mukibi (post graduate student Makerere University)
‘‘I think the knife was supposed to be used for peeling the pineapple fruit. What else could be the use of a small knife in prison! But–again, why hide a knife inside the pineapple? May be the women had a bad intension who knows, let the police investigate. ’’ Mukibi said.
Akello (Student Law Development Centre)
‘‘ If it’s true that warders really found a knife concealed inside the pineapple, then these women should be charged for conspiring to commit a serious offense of helping a convict to escape. By the way, why does Government allow relatives of prisoners to bring food for suspects in a prison? What if, relatives bring in poisoned food?’’ the legal student asks.
KAMPALA: Government could now find clear grounds of charging both Omar Awadh Omar, and Al-Amin Kimathi with terrorism, after one of their visiting relatives reportedly tried to arm them with a knife. According to security officials at Uganda’s Luzira prisons, it is alleged that Faridah Hamubu, a mother to Omar Awadh, allegedly attempted to smuggle a knife inside the prison concealed in a pineapple fruit.
The authenticity of this security claim could not be independently verified since Faridah Hamubu, was immediately arrested and whisked away by the anti terrorism police. She is currently being held at Kireka police cells.
Legal experts believe this new twist, whether fabricated or factual, could give Ugandan authorities a strong case against the two men, since Faridah had registered in the Prisons visitor’s book that she was visiting both in-mates.
Another complication in this case is that both Awadh and Kimathi were arrested at the same venue in Kampala on September 15. Legal experts believe the pair needs a strong advocate so as to win the several criminal charges implicated against them.
‘‘I’m still mystified by the allegation that a suspect’s mother could smuggle a knife inside prison, yet she understands the gravity of the offense. No I don’t believe in this allegation’’ said one of the human rights lawyers representing the 7/11 Kampala terror suspects.
Omar Awadh Omar, a Kenyan businessman is being held in Luzira upper prison together with several other Kenyan nationals on charges of terrorism, Murder, and attempted murder.
In my View
The recent ‘terrorist’ attack,on Police officers in Eastleigh, could soon trigger a xenophobic attack targeting the Somali community. Last week, an administration Police Officer (AP) was killed in a grenade attack in Eastleigh section III, a predominantly Somali suburb. Immediately after the incident, some Kenyan citizens apportioned blame on the Somali community residing in Eastleigh. Comments posted on Capital FM website, were shocking and racist in nature. Nearly all comments posted on the website- accused Somali refugees in Eastleigh of having a hand in the nasty incident. In my view, such comments could incite hatred against the Somali community, in turn triggering a xenophobic attack, similar to what happened in South Africa in May 2008.
Why the hatred
Somali refugees in Kenya-are not necessarily terrorists, but there is growing hatred against them, in some quarters- which I believe is because of their entrepreneurial skills. Twelve years back- when Somali refugees started arriving in Kenya, they basically had northing, but worked hard and generated a lot of money. They started buying property hence taking over Eastleigh where most buildings and businesses- belong to them. Somali refugees had two reasons for settling in Kenya. First, Kenya is closer to Somalia. Secondly Kenya has a huge population of ethnic Somali’s from the North Eastern province, so the Somali refugees considered Kenya to be a favorite country to seek asylum in- compared to other African countries.
Unfortunately Somali refugees in Kenya have been a target of both the Police and citizenry. The Kenyan Police often exhorts huge sums of money from Somali traders in Eastliegh under the guise of looking for illegal immigrants. In Some cases the Kenyan police have been accused of raping women and violating several rights of refuges. Kenyan citizens have accused Somali refugees of taking over their businesses. Some unscrupulous Kenyan business people have been behind the burning of several Somali owned shops in Eastleigh. Its simple logic, when you sell goods cheaper obviously customers will flood your shop. It’s the same logic Somalis have used to succeed in business. While, Asian traders in down town Nairobi insist on selling an item at Kshs: 500, the Somali merchant in Eastleigh will sell it at Kshs: 250, thus having more sales and a huge customer base. Since most traders fear to complete with Somali traders in Eastleigh, they have started accusing them of being beneficiaries of piracy money. Others call them terrorists.
In my view, this is a sign of cowardice. Even before the start of Piracy Somali’s were good businesspeople. It ought to be noted that, Somali businesses mainly thrive on the Islamic principle of trust and brotherhood. Muslims do not take ribaah (banking interests), besides, they trust each other with loans of merchandise or even seed capital.
In Kenya, the results of the past census were partly withheld because there were “too many Somalis”. So there was this fear that Somali’s (read-Muslims) were slowly overtaking Kenya. In the past Somali’s were only known to be informal traders, butchers, Miira sellers or truck drivers, but currently there are many Somalis heading big firms in Kenya, and political bodies which conservative Church people, are not happy about.
Somalis are enterprising people. Branding all Somali’s as terrorists or pirates is a stereotype.
By Hassan Isilow
Martin Mazibuko, a Zimbabwean national slept at the former Nyanga refugee centre for six month before Home Affairs officials approved his asylum application. The 33-year-old Zimbabwean told Africa witness that while at Nyanga refugee centre, he used to queue with other refugees every day, but only those with money were served by corrupt officials.
“I slept in front of Nyanga refugee centre for six continuous months. I was abused and assaulted several times by security officials manning the centre, because I didn’t have money to bribe them,” the upset Zimbabwean national revealed. He pointed to a scar on his arm, reportedly inflicted on him by the greedy security officers. Mazibuko revealed that the abuse, discrimination and corruption that he observed in person while at the infamous centre left him psychologically scarred.
“The physical torture I got from the security officers at Nyanga has healed, but the psychological torture will take long to go away,” he said. The infamous refugee centre was recently relocated to a new building at 412 Voortrekker Road in Maitland. The move was forced after a group of 20 businesses in Nyanga complained that activities at the centre were disturbing their businesses.
According to Mazibuko, during the time that he camped out at the refugee centre, on average 80 asylum seekers were forced to sleep there with him, in the hopes of being served in the morning. “Mornings used to be our biggest nightmare, because only those with money used to be served. Those of us who slept in the queues were neglected.”
When asked why didn’t they protest and seek government attention, the Zimbabwean said the Home Affairs officials had warned them not to move far from the refugee centre because they would be arrested for being illegal in the country. “Some of my friends who stopped sleeping at this centre and moved around in the city were arrested and deported back home. So this made us fearful,” he confided.
He finally got an asylum document after the Minister of Home Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, paid a visit to Nyangar and warned officials there against corruption and mistreatment of foreign asylum seekers. “If the minister had not visited this centre, I swear the winter would have killed us,” said the Zimbabwean national.
In September 2009, police arrested two Home Affairs officials, and a middle man who used to reportedly solicit for bribes and sell identity documents to foreign nationals on behalf of the home office officials. Police spokesperson Superintendent Andre Traut said the suspects operated a crime syndicate at the facility, causing havoc for the immigrants seeking documentation.
“These officials operated a gang that would solicit bribes or sell documents to desperate refugees,” Traut told Africa witness. While, Braam Hanekom of the organisation, People against Suppression, Suffering and Oppression (Passop), confirmed this statement to Africa witness. He said government needs to act fast in removing middle men from operating at Home Affairs refugee centres.
According to Hanekom, the same gangs that operated in Nyanga have shifted base to the new facility in Maitland. “These gangs solicit bribes, threaten and intimidate those who don’t have the money to offer,” he said. He advised to authorities to check these criminal gangs before their activities intensify.
Muslims should break silence about the spread of HIV/AIDS Virus inside their communities. Countless Muslims have already tested positive for HIV/AIDS, but the Muslim community continues to remain silent about the deadly disease. Muslims should change their mind set on HIV/AIDS by openly discussing about sexuality with their children. Most Muslims have taken what they believe to be the ideal of Islam – such as no sex outside marriage and drugs and confused it with the reality of the Muslim world, which is different from none Islamic states where some Muslims live. As much as I respect the Islamic teachings about premarital sex, I’m aware that some Muslims can’t stick to these rules. I suggest such people use preventative measures since they are involved in risky behaviour. I know it’s complicated to speak about condom use in Islam, but at this rate we can not afford loosing more people to HIV/AIDS. I’m aware that abstinence from pre-marital sex is the primary way to prevent the transmission of HIV, but if one can not abstain I think they should use the condom in order to reduce the risk of catching the virus. Don’t mistake me for promoting promiscuous behaviour or campaigning for condom use, but what I’m suggesting is that if one can not abstain from sex and is not married then at least let them use a condom. Let’s not look at the side and pretend that we are holly yet we know some are engaging in sex outside marriage. Let’s speak out and break the silence on HIV/AIDS by advocating for abstinence, faithfulness among married couples, and safe sexuality. Let’s avoid risky sexual behaviour.