Kenyan police on Monday tear-gassed a group of primary school children, who had gathered to protest against a local politician's allegedly illegal acquisition of their playground.
Children ages 6-14, pupils of Nairobi's Langata Road Primary School, had joined their elders to reclaim their school's piece of property where they had long played their games during recess. They were standing tall with their people trying to tear down the brick wall that had been erected around their former playground on the politician's orders.
This is when the city police, on orders from its higher-ups, unleashed its fury and tear-gassed the children, who were later seen screaming and crying from the pain. Some toddlers were rushed to the hospital while the police – instead of showing any remorse – beefed up the playground's security even more and also brought in dogs to stave off any more advances.
“The governor, the senator and other government officials are all scared of the politician, they cannot do anything to stop the playground from the being taken,” said Boniface Mwangi, a local human rights activist.
As is the custom in most countries with corruption and political instability, the police chief Samuel Arachi shifted the blame and suspended his subordinate Elijah Mwangi, under whose supervision the inhuman act was carried out by the police.
Mwangi, meanwhile, denied any wrongdoing and is adamant that he was simply following orders.
Rumor has it that the unnamed politician who has taken over the children's playground intends to turn it into a parking lot for his hotel located nearby.
“This is brutality beyond words and greed beyond description. It is difficult to believe that police can actually deploy against primary school children and lob tear gas at them to defend a land grabber. This image of a nation determined to steal forcefully from its own children cannot be what we aspire to. It cannot be the legacy we want to bequeath the children,” said opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Land grabbing is a major issue in Kenya, where powerful people use their political influence to illegally acquire public properties. While that in itself is a major issue, hurting innocent children on the behest of a property tycoon is something that shouldn't go unpunished. Not only should the students of Langata Road Primary School get their playground back, the entire chain of police officials involved in tear-gassing them should face dire legal consequences.