Friday, October 4, 2013
Human Rights in Kenya
Succeeding my previous blog post on the arrest of Bangladeshi human rights activists, I will provide yet another example of the harm technology has on society and in particular, individuals who seek to speak their minds in totalitarian governments.
The President of Kenya, the Deputy President, and a journalist face charges for crimes against humanity by the International Crime Court (ICC) for their suspected roles in Kenya’s 2007-2008 post-election violence, and their trials began last month. Since then, two men, a human rights lawyer and an activist, were shot. Evidence pointed to their human rights work as the reason.
Thus, people that are believed to support the International Criminal Court (ICC) cases against these men have been recent targets of the government ruled by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
A gang threatened to incinerate the home of a former leader of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Kiai, after they heard inaccurate blog reports stating that this man had testified against the President. One of these error-filled messages was blogged by the President’s own director of digital media, who posted a chart of men he considered “evil society” for being on the ICC’s side. One of these men was Kiai, and in this way he was immediately put into danger by lies posted on the web.
Moreover, people on other blogs and forms of social media misleadingly “expose” the ICC trials’ witnesses, who are simply human rights workers, thereby inevitably jeopardizing peoples’ lives. Hate groups that vehemently oppose the ICC trials and passionately support the leaders of their government strike back at human rights leaders, whose sole purpose is to protect every human being’s rights. The Kenyan authorities have also been accused of inadequate responsiveness to social media messages, many of which promulgate threats against human rights defenders, with the primary example being Kiai.
Therefore, there is clearly a relationship between malignant usage of social media, including blogs, and threats posed to human rights leaders.
I find it really disturbing that the authorities do not deal with social media as seriously as they should. After all, the web can be used for very bad things. Since the origination of the Internet, people have had to deal with many similar issues, such as cyberbullying of oftentimes-fragile children and teenagers. Nowadays, with the hate-ridden and deceitful messages that are being spread about Kenyan human rights advocates, people must learn to distinguish facts from lies, and this proves hard to do. Yet it is a worthwhile endeavor.