McCarthy Tactics by Kenya in Response to Garissa University Massacre, some say
The state announced Wednesday that it has frozen the accounts of 86 individuals, businesses, and non-government organizations with alleged financial links to Al Shabaab. A list, released yesterday by Kenya’s Ministry of Finance, includes a dozen money-transfer companies believed to have roles in funding the Somali militant group.
The announcement comes five days after Al-Shabaab attacked a Kenyan university, killing at least 150, followed by renewed public outcry that the government has repeatedly failed to secure the country against terror attacks.
It may seem surprising that two reputable, internationally recognized human rights groups—Haki Africa and Muhuri—are among those accused. Both groups have over the years earned stellar reputations in pursuit of ensuring that human rights are not violated. Governments, however, commonly zero in on legitimate human rights groups threats to the system.
Most such rights groups, accustomed to the government’stargeting them in way or another, laugh off these latest accusations. Meanwhile, Kenyan authorities are interrogating members of a vocal grass-roots environmental group for their alleged links to last year’s deadly coastal attacks. The group hasn’t yet been identified on a list.
An activist with the environmental-activist organizationnoted in conversation with me that the accusations are reminiscent of the intimidation tactics employed by U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy during Cold War, the origin of the term McCarthysm. Individuals were labeled Communists without sufficient evidence to back such allegations. However unfounded the accusations, associations with “the red threat” were sufficient to tarnish reputations, even ruin careers and lives.
Muhuri and Haki Africa told local media they were unaware of being investigated for links to terrorism. [In a joint statement made by phone, ??] the two groups told a local newspaper that they deny the allegations.
“This is a witch-hunt,” a Mombasa-based human rights lawyer told me last evening. “It’s the Kenya elite trying to show they’re in charge. And it’s dangerous.”
Responses by Kenya’s security apparatus to the escalating onslaught of attacks have included mass arrests, arbitrary detention, and extrajudicial killings. Reeling from last week’s massacre at Garissa University, though, the government appears to be applying new scorched-earth tactics. At very least the accusations are proving a useful diversionary tactic, deflecting focus from the urgent need to address the country’s weak security apparatus.
Since 2011, Kenya has been fighting a proxy war for the United States in Somalia, and has suffered a rash of deadly retaliation. Since 2012 Al Shabaab has killedmore than 600 people within its neighbor’s borders, the vast majority of them civilians uninvolved in the conflict.
@SomaliaNewsroom: RT @FaisalHassing: #Kenya closes down #Somali remittance companies. Playing at the hands of the terrorist again. #HowNotToFightTerrorist.