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Mothers of Victims and Survivors Network Exhibition

Short film on MSJC’s journey

MSJC started in late 2014, and since then we have been working to keep our community safe and to provide space for community members to become activists to defend Mathare and themselves.

We are here to create a platform to amplify community power — us together.

Find out more about our journey so far in the video above.

And many thanks to our comrade Ed Ram for his support in making it!

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Mothers of Victims and Survivors Network Exhibition

As We Lose Our Fear: Photography exhibition on police brutality

Dear Comrades,

We would like to make you aware of a new photography exhibition on police brutality opening at Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi ’s leading contemporary art gallery, on 28 July 2021.

The exhibition, named As We Lose Our Fear, is the first photography exhibition by Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC), and documents acts of violence by Kenyan police.

The exhibition presents portraits of survivors of police brutality and catalogues accounts from residents of Mathare, an informal settlement in Nairobi, who have had family members killed by police officers. 

Since 2015, MSJC has been documenting extrajudicial killings by the police in Mathare, and through protest, organizing and educational programming, we have been pushing for justice and equality for people unfairly targeted in our communities.

In As We Lose Our Fear, members of The Mothers of Victims and Survivors Network, part of the Social Justice Centres Working Group, stand for the many survivors and victims of police violence who did not feel able to give their accounts, for fear of reprisals from Kenyan police.

In highlighting these acts of intimidation and state violence, The Mothers of Victims and Survivors Network and MSJC hope that As We Lose Our Fear will inspire people from all backgrounds in Kenya to stand up for justice and equality.

The exhibition consists of photographic portraits and a book containing interviews with people who have been victims of police brutality and have had family members killed by Kenyan police officers. In some of the portraits the subjects hold up a piece of paper with the name of the loved one who was killed by police.

An opening event will be held on Thursday 29 July 2021, where members of the press will be welcome. To book a time slot please follow this link: https://artsvp.co/3fdadf

Statistics on the rising number of killings committed by the police in Mathare and accounts from the family members featured in the book are available on request. Case studies featured in the portraits are available for interview.

For press enquires please contact: Wangui Kimari, MSJC exhibition co-ordinator: matharesocialjusticecentre@gmail.com

Ministry of Health Covid-19 protocols will be observed for the exhibition. The exhibition will run until 6 August 2021.


In solidarity,
Mathare Social Justice Centre

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Mothers of Victims & Survivors Network Police Brutality Social Justice Centres

Launch of The Mothers of Victims & Survivors Network Report

Saturday 20th of February marked the launch of the Mothers of Victims & Survivors Network Report. The launch coincided with World Social Justice Day. Members of the Network convened at the Orbit Hall, Mathare. The Mothers of Victims and Survivors Network started in late 2017. It was formed for the purposes of documenting many cases of mainly extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, police brutality, and other inhumanities by the police.

The day was marked by talks and discussions by members of MSJC and community members. People joined in solidarity to grieve over those they have lost to police brutality and charted ways forward for accountability and justice. The report can be read and downloaded here.

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Mothers of Victims and Survivors Network Exhibition

Tuna Haki Pia Report: Disability Justice For Nairobi’s Informal Settlements

Over 15 months between March 2019 – August 2020, MSJC’s disability justice campaign worked on a report highlighting the many grave injustices that people with disabilities in informal settlements live through everyday. Like our other reports, this one was anchored in participatory action research and built on previous conversations and community dialogues on disability in Mathare that we have organized over the last two years.

It is our hope that this report contributes to getting dignity and social justice for some of our most marginalised community members. And we hope you will hear their words, experiences, desires and demands and take up their call for justice. As we know and as they say: Tuna Haki Pia!

The report can be accessed through this link: https://www.matharesocialjustice.org/disability-justice-report-tuna-haki-pia/

Please share widely!

 

 

 

 

 

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Mothers of Victims and Survivors Network Exhibition

“Death by coronavirus or hunger?” MSJC’s Dennis Orengo on the BBC Food Chain Podcast

One of our ‘field marshals’ at MSJC, Dennis Orengo, was featured in a recent BBC Food Chain Podcast examining the struggles for food that communities in India and Kenya are dealing with, and that are made worse by the pandemic. Orengo talks about how the lockdown in Kenya has impacted many families in poor settlements, and the reality of having to eat only one meal a day. You can listen through this link:

 

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EJE Campaign Mothers of Victims & Survivors Network Social Justice Centres Working Group

“War against the poor and youth”: Video of UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard Solidarity Visit to Mathare

In February 2020, Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitration executions, came to Mathare to take part in a community-led conference that focused on the rampant extrajudicial killings of the poor in Nairobi. We greatly appreciated her solidarity visit, and we continue together to demand justice for our people.  In this video she talks about this visit, and the “war against the poor and youth” that Kenya and other states are waging. We thank Peace Brigades International for their work to bring Agnes Callamard to our community. See the video below.

https://youtu.be/3S3nAWaad5g

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Mothers of Victims & Survivors Network Papo Reto/Kenya & Brazil Solidarity Solidarity Women in Social Justice Centres

“Killings Get Back, We are Moving Forward” : The Launch of the Network of Mothers of Victims and Survivors of Police Violence

This article was written about the Mother of Victims and Survivors Network launch, and was originally published on RioOnWatch, as part of “ongoing reporting on social struggles around the world that dialogue with the local reality in Rio de Janeiro and offer important points of international comparison. ” We agree with RioOnWatch that “analyzing parallels and showing solidarity for peer communities allows us all to establish connections, share knowledge, build networks of support, and establish a sense of common experience and purpose.”

On February 15, nearly two years after beginning their work, the Mothers of Victims and Survivors Network launched their initiative at the Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC) in Mathare, Nairobi, Kenya.

The network is composed of close to fifty members from across the city’s low-income settlements—from Kayole, Mathare, Dandora, Mukuru, Kibera and elsewhere—all of whom have come together to seek justice for the killing or brutal victimization of members of their family, usually young men, by the police.

Echoing the struggles of the mothers of political prisoners in Kenya in the early nineties and similar inspirational mobilizations of madres and mães in Argentina and Brazil, the network is primarily composed of women. These are the mothers and wives of victims of extrajudicial killings.

Since 2017, the members of the Network have been coming together to support each other through grief, to offer solidarity in the judicial system for the mothers who have been lucky enough to have their cases reach court, to document new victims, and to strategize collectively. Though throughout this time they have witnessed and continue to experience the imbalances and biases of the Kenyan legal system, the day’s launch was a celebration of the Network’s tedious, painful, and painstaking work: of what they have accomplished and what they will continue to do to ensure justice for their communities.

In 2017, the MSJC, a community-based organization in the urban settlement of Mathare, released a participatory action report on extrajudicial killings in Kenya between 2013-2016. The report, titled “Who is Next?: A Participatory Action Research Report Against the Normalization of Extrajudicial Executions in Mathare,” chronicled the killing of at least 50 young men in Mathare and 803 nationally in the three-year period. While illustrative of the sinister force of the police in the country, most citizens recognize that this documentation is only the beginning. The number represents a minority of those who have been killed in the recent past and filed away as “thugs” or “suspected terrorists.”

Some of the families of the young men killed and documented in this report and other ongoing MSJC documentation are represented in the Network.

Mama Victor, the current coordinator of the Mothers of Victims and Survivors Network, lost her two sons, Victor and Bernard, on the same day in 2017. They were killed, meters apart, by police officers who had invaded Mathare, ostensibly to quell protests provoked by the election results released a day earlier.

In Lucy Wambui’s case, another co-leader of the Network, her husband, Christopher Maina, was killed when she was eight months pregnant with their first child. He was dragged from a building site where he had been working and killed at 2pm on a public street. His killer, a notorious police officer named Rashid, executed one of the witnesses to Maina’s killing a year later. Having also been filmed killing two young men in Eastleigh two months after killing Maina, Rashid continues to work as a police officer. Unjustly vindicated in an irresponsibly biased BBC documentary, this breed of policing reflects that what the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Agnes Callamard called, during her February 2020 visit to Mathare, typical of “serial killers in uniform.”

Another member of the network is Mama Stella, whose son was one of the eight young men killed by the police in April 2016 in Mukuru. Though the media reported that they were “suspected thugs,” two of them were only 16, and one was 17 years old. The group had plans to start a community garbage collection business.

One of the youngest members of the network is 19-year-old Mso from Mathare, who has had two partners killed by the police in the same year. She is now left to care for two young sons in the same settlement where her husbands were killed.

While their family members are killed at whim, these women are unable to seek justice from government organizations such as the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA). According to its own “End-Term Board Report 2012 -2018,” the IPOA has only managed three convictions out of the 9878 cases it received during that period—just as in Brazil, the vast majority of these cases remain under endless investigation. And yet, against the injustice of these conditions, the Network has continued to grow.

These women know that the killing of their family members is only one extreme outcome in a continuum of structural violence that features, among other things: lack of access to water, poor schools, inadequate health care, and the militarization of their homes. “Children being killed like kukus [chicken],” said one mother.

They also know that the government’s informally formalized “shoot to kill” policy is reserved for spaces like theirs. Wealthy areas of the city see no such policing.

For this reason, these mothers came together on February 15 wearing red shirts to represent the[ir] “blood that had been shed.” On the back of these shirts were only three words: “justice for victims.”

Together they sang and danced and marched determinedly, expressing how the[ir] “fire had been lit” [moto imewaka], while dedicating time to plant trees in memory of those they had lost.

As these trees grow and are taken care of in a community that is governed by environmental apartheid, they will stand as symbols of residents’ struggle for justice. They will exist in opposition to a status quo, planted in a moment of change co-catalyzed when these mothers got up and said: “killings get back, we are moving forward.”

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Mothers of Victims and Survivors Network Exhibition

Police Extortion Suffocating the Boda Boda Sector As Youth Unemployment Soars

By Dennis Orengo  & Lena Anyuolo

The wave of this two wheeled transport began in the 1980s in Busia and Malaba borders of Kenya and Uganda. This form of transport satisfied the need for quick transport across the border through no man’s lands, hence the trade flourished and more bicycles plied this route. More riders set up ‘bases,’ that is ferrying points along the route, and they had to call out to clients from a distance. To do that, they shouted “BODA! BODA!” which is a corruption of border to border. Today it has become a reliable means of transport and spawned an industry from which millions derive a livelihood.

Such is the success of the boda boda industry that a group of boda boda operators organized themselves and formed a cooperative society that has evolved into a multi-million shilling housing project in Mathare area number 10. To emphasize the seriousness of this form of transport, the word “boda boda” made its way to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2017. Collins and Macmillan dictionaries define the term as a bicycle taxi or a bicycle rider in charge of a motorcycle.

According to the National and Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) there are 1, 631, 314 motorcycles in Kenya as of March, 2020. NTSA data shows that the economic contribution of boda boda’s is estimated at an average of slightly above 190 billion annually. Today, many Kenyans have preferred riders to send on errands. In remote and inaccessible areas it’s the major form of transport, while in cities like Nairobi, residents use it to beat traffic jam. Many Kenyans both in cities and rural areas prefer to use boda boda because they maneuver easily where taxis and buses cannot. Their arrival has also saved lives for instance when Daniel Mburu, a twenty-four year old boda boda rider, saved a young girl who was drowning in Korogocho river and rushed her to Mama Lucy hospital where her life was saved. Unfortunately for Mburu, he was shot dead by the police within the same hospital premises after saving the young girl’s life. Boda bodas have created jobs and transformed the lives of young jobless Kenyans. But, there is a darker side to boda boda implosion as our research found out.

The boda boda riders in Nairobi, especially in Mathare Sub County and the larger Nairobi Eastlands, have accused the police of harassment and using crude methods to arrest them. The police officers who are supposed to deal with security issues are putting up road blocks and laying ambush at Dandora and Kariobangi roundabout along Outering road. The same brutality and extortion happens along Thika road next to Mathari mental hospital and within the Mathare villages. During these times, the officers demand bribes between Kenya shillings 5000 to 30, 000. During certain times the boda boda riders have been forced to flee just as the customer was about to pay when the (rider) notices policemen walking towards them to lay an ambush. In some instances during the ambush, both the rider and the customer gets thorough beatings from the police despite the fact that it’s not illegal to operate a boda boda business. Whenever any rider is arrested and demands to be arraigned in court instead of paying bribes, the police threaten to file charges on them for offences they didn’t commit such as drug trafficking.

The government must therefore compel the police to stop the harassment because the boda boda sector offers employment to a large constituency of youths in the country and it’s a major contributor to the country’s economy. Youths who invest in this sector do not want to engage in unlawful acts such as robbery and that’s why they take up loans from financial institutions to purchase the motorcycles. The cardinal question the young boda boda riders pose to the government is: “how will they manage to repay their loans if the little they get is taken away by the rogue police?” The government must protect the youths and provide a conducive business environment.

The youths also appeal to the Nairobi County ward representatives to develop and come up with a Nairobi County boda boda policy. This will help owners and operators whose current reputation has sometimes been linked to insecurity. This policy must promote the security of the motorcycle industry amongst all stakeholders and ensure all adhere to traffic laws.

The boda boda operators and owners also thanked Mathare Social Justice Centre through Lenah Anyuolo and Dennis Orengo who visited them in their bases, and taught them about the rights of arrested persons (Article 49 ) and freedom and security of persons (Article 29) in the Kenyan constitution. They acknowledged the knowledge of the law in the constitution empowers them in fighting against police extortion and brutality.

 

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EJE Campaign Mothers of Victims & Survivors Network

Urgent Alert: Profiling of MSJC activist, Mso, by vigilante “Nairobi Crime Free” Facebook group

Activists have long been profiled by supposed “citizen” Facebook groups like “Hessy wa Dandora,” “Nairobi Crime Free” and others. These are vigilante groups tied to the police force that post photos of the activists and threaten them, warning them against doing the community work they are doing, which is interpreted as defending “thugs” and other such narratives.  We have reported these threats before, but they continue. And the Facebook groups continue to exist. Today they posted the photo of MSJC member Mso, whose first and second husband were both killed by the police. We ask for solidarity at this moment, and that comrades continue to report these groups that are putting activists at risk, and offer support to those who are being profiled. Nothing will stop our work for justice and dignity for our communities.

 

 

 

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EJE Campaign Mothers of Victims & Survivors Network Women in Social Justice Centres

Mothers of Victims & Survivors Network Launch, February 15 2020

 

The Mothers of Victims & Survivors Network will be launched on February 15, 2020. This is a network composed, primarily, of mothers and wives of victims of extrajudicial killings. They have been doing a lot of work over the past two years: supporting each other through court cases, documenting new victims, and strategizing together. This launch is a celebration of the work they have been doing and will continue to do so to make sure they can get justice for the many families whose members have been killed by the police. Come and support them at Mathare Social Justice Centre, on February 15 2020, between 10 am – 1 pm. Your solidarity will be much appreciated.

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