On July 7, PBI-Kenya tweeted: “We came to follow up on the health and safety of the 5 HRDs [human rights defenders] including @happyolal [Happy Olal] arrested today during #SabaSabaMarchForOurLives.”

The Social Justice Centres Working Group has also tweeted: “The Convener of the Social Justice Centres Working Group Comrade @happyolal & 4 others from the  Justice Centres have been arrested and are currently held at Central Police Station for taking part in the #SabaSabaMarchForOurlives protest aimed in defense of the constitution.”

Three of the others arrested are Erick, Barasa and Bosire.

Earlier in the day, PBI-Kenya tweeted: “Disturbing reports surrounding the #SabaSabaMarchForOurLives today. PBI Kenya has observed extensive police presence downtown. We stand in solidarity with the #HRDs that are injured and arrested today.”

That violence included, as GF Kenya reported: “Imagine you lost your son to a police bullet. Then you protest police violence & get hit by a tear gas canister. One of the mother’s of victims here is attended by a paramedic after police threw tear gas at her head.”

The Star reports: “Police on Wednesday dispersed Saba Saba protesters, who took to the streets to march for a fair living. The human rights campaigners and youths were campaigning against youth unemployment and harsh economic times.”

That article adds: “The march is to mark the 31st Saba Saba, which is marked on July 7 every year. This is to commemorate the Second Liberation struggle in Kenya.”

Saba Saba (seven-seven/July 7) refers to a protest on July 7, 1990, when Kenyans took to the streets to demand free elections. That first serious challenge against repression resulted in 39 dead, 69 injured and 5,000 arrested after four days of confrontations between the police and the public. In 1991, Kenya transitioned to a multiparty political system after 26 years of the single-party rule though the demand for free and fair elections has continued.

In the present day, human rights defenders and social organizations, including the Social Justice Centres Working Group, have mobilized on this day to call for respect for the constitution and an end to police violence.

Last year, The Star reported: “More than 100 people [are] reported to have been killed by police since January 2020 according to Missing Voices, a consortium of community, national and international human rights defenders committed to ending enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in Kenya.”

That article further noted: “Missing Voices reports that 712 people have been killed by the police or reported missing since 2007 with only 26 having been charged with a crime for these cases which include enforced disappearances. These cases are more rampant in poorer neighbourhoods.”

Through its participation in the Missing Voices network, PBI-Kenya works to help stop human rights violations and police violence.


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