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Saturday, 29 January 2011

Police disrupt Kenyan mourning for David Kato

Outside Ugandan Chancery

By Denis Nzioka

Gay Kenya members, human rights activists and LGBTI persons held a vigil at the Uganda High Commission’s Chancery in Riverside Drive amid tight watch and arrest threats from police officers called in by officials of the High Commission.

Members had first assembled at the Uganda High Commission Offices in Uganda House, Kenyatta Avenue to show solidarity with their Ugandan comrades after the killing of David Kato, a leading gay rights activist in Uganda. David Kato was killed after his photo appeared in a tabloid paper calling for his execution.

Gay Kenya’s Denis Nzioka and David Kuria, the organizers of the vigil, took a letter to the High Commission requesting permission to hand over the wreath and were told it was taken to the ‘right’ person. Half an hour later, some three uniformed Kenyan police officers came to the reception area and were lead inside the offices only to return a few minutes later and stood guard where the participants were seated.

Denis Nzioka reports that:
"One of the police officer took a call and I heard him saying over the phone that they (the police officers) were at the Uganda High Commission offices as they was a protest taking place and was asking if the (police) van had arrived. He was carrying in his hand the same letter we had given earlier."

Forced to move, the group then proceeded to the Uganda Chancery on Riverside drive where they delivered a message to Kato’s family and took photos. Denis Nzioka says that he received a call from a reporter who was already at the Chancery that two police officers had arrived. However, efforts to get an audience with any representative of the Chancery bore no fruit as police officers manning the gates denied them entry and reported to them that they had orders to move the group away from the Chancery’s gates.

David Kuria of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK) led the group in giving speeches and lighting candles. He said:
"‘I met David Kato in 2007 during the World Social Forum and it’s painful to have lost him.’ He added, ‘He was a truly dedicated man and wished to see an equal and non-discriminating Uganda society. David Kato is a martyr and he will be remembered."
Later, in a live show, K24’s Taswira’s show, Eric Gitari, a human rights lawyer and Denis Nzioka from Gay Kenya were interviewed regarding the killing of David Kato and also to talk about human rights and the gay community in Kenya. However, their show was cut short with no explanation.
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