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Thousands of elderly Kenyans prepare to sue UK for detention, abuses during colonial uprising

Posted by Administrator on February 8, 2012

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Thousands of elderly Kenyans are preparing to sue the British government over abuses — including torture, illegal detentions and rape — its forces allegedly committed during its suppression of a 1950s anti-colonial rebellion, a lawyer representing the group said Wednesday.

The group of Kenyans is motivated by the progress of a case by four other elderly Kenyans, who were given the go-ahead by a British court last year to sue the U.K. government for alleged abuses during its colonial occupation of Kenya, said lawyer Donald Rabala.

The British government had tried to have the case by the four thrown out, saying it could not be held legally responsible for the long-ago abuses. It argues that all the powers and liabilities of the colonial administration passed to the Kenyan government on independence in 1963.

Rabala said his firm has taken statements from more than 6,000 people who claim to have either been tortured, detained illegally, raped, forcefully displaced from their land, among other abuses.

Rabala said his firm, with the help of a U.K. law firm, is collecting more statements from Kenyans allegedly held by the British in detention camps after a 1952 uprising led by a militia group known as the Mau Mau. Britain imposed a state of emergency that lasted until 1959.

“The victims know some of the names of those who raped them, tortured them. They have scars and some have documents showing when they were incarcerated and where,” Rabala said.

He said he expects the British government to settle the case out of court because if it goes to trial it will consume a lot of time and taxpayer money.

During the uprising in 1952, Prime Minister Winston Churchill sent British soldiers to help colonial administrators capture the Mau Mau fighters and send them to detention camps. African soldiers under the King’s African Rifles regiment also took part in the assault on the Mau Mau and their supporters.

President Barack Obama’s grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, was one of thousands of Kenyans detained. Obama’s grandfather died in 1979.

Among the 6,000 planning to sue is the wife of Dedan Kimathi, one of the most Mau Mau’s most revered, Rabala said. British fighters arrested and hanged Kimathi. He has since been honored by the Kenyan government as a national hero.

His widow, Mukami Kimathi, was incarcerated by the British, according to Rabala, though he declined to go into the details of what she experienced during her detention.

The new potential cases were inspired by a ruling by British High Court Judge Richard McCombe, who last July found that the four Kenyans “have arguable cases in law,” and their suits can go ahead.

Britain’s Africa Minister Henry Bellingham said at the time that the government would continue to fight the claim, “given the length of time elapsed and the complex legal and constitutional questions the case raises.”

He said Britain understood “the pain and grievance felt by those, on all sides, who were involved in the divisive and bloody events of the Emergency period in Kenya.”

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/thousands-of-elderly-kenyans-prepare-to-sue-uk-for-detention-abuses-during-colonial-uprising/2012/02/08/gIQAVO4cyQ_story.html

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3 Responses to “Thousands of elderly Kenyans prepare to sue UK for detention, abuses during colonial uprising”

  1. PatMuigaiDallas said

    What about the victims who has justed died recently still trying to follow compensation from the British government.This includes Late Gladwell Muthoni,who even had her Husband Godfrey Gatauwa detained for being a black smith accused of helping making home made gains during colonial period.
    Another person is Late Godfrey Muigai who were deported from their propering business in Tanzania for being ,who the the British felt scared they might spread mau mau activities to Tanzania.They were brought to Manyani and stripped off the possession .
    What will happen to all those victims ,who kept on telling their stories of what hey went through to their nieces and other and that is all .Time is not that long, if you consider all the the stories that happened in the Holy Bible was more than 2000 years ago and people still relate to them.

  2. Although I support these people should compensated , I want them to come clean on massacre that happened in Lari where some innocent people were killed including children, I come from that area and I have tried to know what exactly happened even asking those people who witnessed since I was born that time but nobody have clear explanation

  3. Renee said

    What do we hope to gain by this move? Yes people got hurt and humiliated. So what do people hope to gain by suing Britain?
    Things of the like happened throught Africa. Should all African coutries sue Europe, especially countries which colonised?
    Its just not making sense to me and it doesn’t seem practical.
    From this case, looks to me like we can sue the whole of the West. Is that what you hope to achieve?

    If what we are seeking for is an appology, then Yes. Lets go a head.

    But if we are seeking for compessation, is that reasonable and achievable? Is it practical? What about the people in power, the tax payers and everyone else who didnot participate in these crimes and will probably be made to pay. WIll taht be practical and fair? What about the aid that comes form the UK to Africa all through the year, will they still be happy to send it after being sued?

    My grand father was manhandled during colonial times. His house was destroyed, burnt down and all. He had to relocate and start again. He is still alive now. SHould he use whats left of his time and energy seeking compesation for crimes againts him and his family?

    WHat about forgiveness, and letting vengance be for God?

    Are we sure we want to go down this road?

    Looks to me like opening pandoras’ box.

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