NO JUSTICE

Lamu Shifta war victims in pursuit of elusive justice 57 years on

Say the TJRC report is their biggest redemption and they hope the government will make it public

In Summary

• The Shifta War was a secessionist conflict in which ethnic Somalis in Northeastern attempted to secede from Kenya and join Somalia. 

• The victims of the 1963–67 war now  want the government to stop celebrations such as Madaraka Day until their issues are looked into and resolved.

Shifta war victims in Lamu say it’s a slap in the face for the government to keep ignoring their plight and denying them justice for over five decades.

Despite being the first ever group of internally displaced persons in the country, the Shifta war victims say the government has treated them with contempt and insensitivity.

The Shifta War was a secessionist conflict in which ethnic Somalis in Northeastern attempted to secede from Kenya and join Somalia. 

The victims of the 1963–67 war now  want the government to stop celebrations such as Madaraka Day until their issues are looked into and resolved.

They also accuse the government of double standards for refusing to compensate them  as they did with the 2007-08 post-election violence IDPs.

Owing to the frequent invasions by goons during the war in 1960s, the government in 1964 directed the dissolution of all affected villages which included Ishakani, Kiunga, Mwambore, Rubu, Simambaye, Mvundeni, Ashuwei, Matironi, Mkokoni,Vumbe, Saadani, Kiangwe, Ndhununi and Bodhei.

The affected villagers were forced to migrate and find alternative settlements with many being rendered IDPs.

Speaking in Lamu on Friday, their spokesperson, Mohamed Mbwana, said they still don’t understand the criteria used by the government to deny them compensation, while the same has been accorded to various other groups of IDPs in the past.

He said all IDPs share common pains that include being displaced from their homes, loss of lives and property and in worse scenarios, loss of an identity and as such, must be treated equally.

“There is no IDP that is more than the other, we are all the same. Our pain is the same and we seek the same thing, justice and help. We still want the President to explain why people still celebrate Madaraka Day and justice has not been served to us,”Mbwana said.

In March this year, Shifta war victims in Lamu county launched a signature collection exercise with a view to sue and compel the government to compensate and resettle them.

They are targeting a total of 5,000 signatures after which they will head to court.

They also want the government to make public the report by the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, which detailed the evils and transgressions they have suffered.

Mbwana said by refusing to release the report until now, the government is hiding something concerning what happened during the war.

Victim Kahale Suluhu, 85, said the TJRC report is their biggest redemption and they hope the government will make it public and implement its recommendations.

“We suffered. Our women and daughters were raped and men were beaten, some to death and others maimed for life. We lost our land and our homes."

"The suffering we encountered will forever remain etched in our spirits but the unfortunate thing is that the government has never thought it wise to compensate us yet they have done so for PEV victims and others,” Suluhu said. 

In April last year, the victims rejected a plan by the county government to resettle them and called for a stop to land surveys, saying they had not been consulated and involved..

In the county's 2018 plan, at least 20,000 squatters, including the Shifta war victims,  in the region would be resettled in  four years.

Edited by EKibii