OPINION: Deaths of George Floyd, Hussein Moyo reflect deep-rooted societal malaise

OPINION: Deaths of George Floyd, Hussein Moyo reflect deep-rooted societal malaise
A caricature of the late George Floyd (left) and the late Hussein Moyo (right). PHOTOS | REUTERS and CNN

Today, I choose to join millions of global citizens to express my outrage over the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black citizen of United States of America by a white police officer.

I strongly condemn the abhorrent killing of George and related murders, and uncalled for excessive police violence against Black people in America. I demand justice for George Floyd.

The repugnant murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer on May 25, 2020, is just but one of the many documented victims of race profiling and police violence in the United States by police officers against people of colour.

Ahmaud Arbery and Trayvon Martin are among many other victims of killings on the account of their skin colour.

The killing of George exposes murk in race and discrimination in the society which easily permeates systems of governance.

The police in the United States have been called out for the excessive targeting of not only the Black people but also such groups like religious, indigenous and ethnic minorities; racialised groups and gender minorities.

George’s death and others like him is a reflection of deep rooted societal malaise that counters the imagery of social, economic and political progress and respect for democracy and human rights that the USA has proclaimed itself to be.

As an adept believer in civil rights and freedoms, I bemoan the increasing loss of a global leadership of USA in advocating for human rights respecting policing and upholding the respect for diversity of color, creed, gender, sexual orientation or class.

When one commits to champion the universalism of the UN declaration on human rights that calls on us to stand up against disrespect and violation of human rights, geographical scope and time becomes non-existent.

A human rights violation anywhere the world over ought to be condemned.

With this piece, I join with national, regional and global human rights and civil society actors, to call for a thorough, independent, and transparent investigation of the killing of George Floyd and other acts of police violence, and commitment to end impunity for police perpetrators by bringing them to justice.

The racial profiling is not unique to the USA alone but also in other parts of the world that have normalised black oppression from all fronts.

The murder of George Floyd has taken place in the midst of an historic global pandemic that has resulted in a serious public health and human rights crisis.

It is disheartening that while condemning this travesty of justice elsewhere, Kenya cannot proudly speak of its good record in policing.

Extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearance and police violence that has resulted in serious injuries particularly among economically marginalised groups in the Kenyan rural and urban slums have been the hallmark of policing during the COVID-19 crisis.

For instance, figures by Defenders Coalition -an organisation that works on protecting human rights defenders against persecution because of their work, indicate that since the first case of COVID-19 infection was reported in Kenya in early March (until 31 May 2020), human tights monitors have documented 21 police killings and hundreds of injuries during violent enforcement of measures intended to minimise the spread of the virus in Kenya.

Many more young men have been forcefully disappeared and human rights defenders have been victims of arrests, containment at quarantine facilities and malicious prosecution because of speaking out against human rights violations and other injustices.

Journalists, medical service providers like nurses and medical officers as well as lawyers who are considered as essential service providers have not been spared the violence and ill-treatment.

The fear of the violence, more than infections have forced the sick and women in labour to keep off medical facilities, exacerbating the medical crisis now and in the future.

The June 2, 2020 announcement of the approval by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) for the prosecution of a police officer who is suspected of fatally shooting Yassin Hussein Moyo —a primary school pupil at the balcony of their home in Kiamaiko, Huruma in Nairobi—provides a glimmer of hope for justice for the family and human rights defenders community that advocate for justice and accountability.

Maybe it provides the hope that the wheels of justice in this and other cases will turn so us to slay the dragon of impunity that fuels the never ending police violence against fellow Kenyans.

The boiling outrage against the killing of George Floyd in the United States of America has poured into the streets exposing systemic injustices and discriminatory policing.

The government and the American people must make the right choices to right historic wrongs against black people, minorities and open a new chapter on race relation that abhors racism and violent policing of black communities across the world.

Kamau Ngugi is the Executive Director of Defenders Coalition which is under the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders

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