Urgent! Your pledge of solidarity is requested for the people of Kenya!

ANSWER Indiana stands in solidarity with the people of Mathare and the organizers and activists of the Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC) and Ecological Justice Network who were wrongfully arrested while exercising their democratic rights to organize and demonstrate in opposition to the attempt of the ruling class and the Kenyan government to impose the ecological crisis burden onto the urban poor and most marginalized people—the peasant class—of Kenya. We demand the immediate and unconditional release of all unjustly detained political prisoners and call on comrades, social justice advocates, and human rights defenders to stand with this demand for justice.

On the morning of 8 May, members of the Mathare community united to defend their right to decent housing and a dignified life. The demonstration began at Juja road and proceeded along Mau Mau road when Kenyan police unleashed tyrannical force onto those protesting—teargassing and violently dispersing activists and community members. The call to action was in response to the government’s decision to demolish residences and displace those seeking aid and recovering from the devastating floods experienced after a deluge of rain led to flooding that decimated many homes and turned lives upside down. Since the rains began a few weeks ago, the impacts of the climate crisis have claimed the lives of hundreds of Kenyans and many more flood victims remain unaccounted for. In Mathare, 40 people were lost after infrastructural failures led to the Mathare River bursting its banks and flooding parts of the settlement. Those killed by the flooding and others enduring the precarity of life in Mathare Slum in Nairobi are undoubtedly victims of the structural violence of capitalism and the inequality it perpetuates. We stand with organizers of the MSJC and the Ecological Justice Network in their resistance to the inhumane manner in which the Kenyan government has responded to the flooding, devastation, and loss of life. 

Following the demonstration and a press statement given at Mathare Community Park, the General Service Unit (GSU)—a paramilitary wing of the Kenyan police service—raided the offices of the MSJC and Ghetto Foundation, arresting 26 organizers and staff members. Members of the Kenyan Social Justice Centres Working Group and the Social Justice Travelling Theatre are currently being unjustly and illegally held at Pangani police station. One innocent organizer was unlawfully detained during the demonstration and is being held at Ruaraka police station. Of those arrested was the National Treasurer of the Communist Party of Kenya, Comrade Wahome Waringa. 

The structural crisis of capitalism in its neoliberal form has created a legitimacy crisis for the capitalist rulers, making the use of force a permanent strategy for maintaining their dominance. This systematic use of brute force has been witnessed and experienced around the globe time and time again—most recently wielded against peaceful Gaza ceasefire student protesters in the US, garment-worker labor organizers in Bangladesh, pro-Palestinian demonstrators in the streets of Germany, and pro-democracy and anti-imperialist activists in Senegal. The war waged against the working class and rights advocates around the world is mirrored by the police brutality that occurred in Mathare on 8 May. These phenomena must be seen as a shared symptom of the oppressive structure of global capital.    

The recent floods in Mathare and around Kenya call for a renewed understanding of the capitalist response to the climate crisis. The role of the police force is to protect capital and serve the interests of the ruling class. The trampling of the democratic liberties of innocent Kenyan community members must be stopped through increased resistance. It is not a crime to organize a demonstration against illegitimate and depraved government decisions and actions—it is an undeniable right enshrined in the Kenyan constitution. 

In solidarity with the protesters, we support their demands for dignity and social justice for all, and sound solutions to the climate and housing crises in Kenya. We support their initiative to advance ecological interventions that center social justice and the needs of the poor in confronting the climate crisis.

We demand the police and government be held accountable for their actions against protesters on 8 May! We demand true justice! And we demand the immediate release of all political prisoners everywhere!

For updates, more information, and to learn how to support the struggle for ecological justice in Kenya, please visit the Mathare Social Justice Centre webpage.