Tensions flared in Lavington, an affluent suburb in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, after three pro-Palestinian protesters were arrested following a peaceful social gathering organised by the Kenya Palestinian Solidarity Committee in the wake of the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The gathering, which took place at Cheche Bookshop and Cafe, a private social gathering place that saw the participation of hundreds of Palestinian supporters in Kenya, quickly escalated as General Service Unit (GSU) trucks arrived to disperse the crowd.
Eyewitnesses reported that approximately 100 supporters gathered in a show of support for Palestine in the ongoing conflict, brandishing flags and signs that expressed their solidarity. Among those who attended the private meeting were Kenya’s former deputy speaker and Daadab Member of Parliament Faraah Maalim, and his counterpart Yusuf Hassan, who is a member of Kenya’s parliamentary Defence, Intelligence and Foreign Relations committee.
The meeting was aimed at drawing attention to the plight of the Palestinian people, as Israel vows to step up Gaza bombardment ahead of the expected ground offensive.
The motives behind the arrests and the specific charges against the detained protesters remain unclear at this time. Authorities have yet to release an official statement regarding the incident.
An earlier planned demonstration in front of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya was canceled following communication from Gigiri police.
The organizers, who considered the protest an urgent call for action, were informed that the demonstration did not adhere to the necessary protocol and would, therefore, be regarded as a potential threat to public safety and order.
The demonstration had been organized to express discontent over the United States’ role in the ongoing conflict in Palestine. Participants intended to voice their concerns about U.S. policies that they believe have contributed to the violence in the Middle East.
Amnesty International Kenya condemned the disruption and subsequent arrest of three individuals, citing a violation of Article 37 of the Kenyan Constitution. The organization expressed deep concern over the incident and called for immediate condemnation of these actions.
The Human Rights body Executive Director, Irungu Houghton, strongly criticized the police’s actions, describing them as unlawful.
“For the police to disrupt a peaceful private gathering is unlawful,” emphasised Houghton in a statement.
World leaders met in Cairo, Egypt on Saturday for a peace summit to discuss ways to “de-escalate” the Israel-Hamas war amid growing fears of a wider Middle East conflict.
Dubbed the Cairo Summit for Peace, representatives from countries including Jordan, France, Germany, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, the United States, Qatar and South Africa are attending the one-day meeting on Saturday, together with United Nations and European Union officials.
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the president of Egypt, called on world leaders to agree on a roadmap to halt the “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza and reopen the door to peace between Israel and the Palestinians in his opening remarks.
He said the plan’s objectives included sending aid to Gaza and consenting to a ceasefire before engaging in talks that resulted in a two-state solution.
“All civilian lives matter,” Jordan’s King Abdullah said, addressing the summit. “The relentless bombing campaign under way in Gaza as we speak is cruel and unconscionable on every level. It is collective punishment of a besieged and helpless people. It is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. It is a war crime.”
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