TRUE LEGACY OF BETHWEL KIPLAGAT
I still dont understand why Kenyans would always want to celebrate upon their death, those men and women who have been accused of horrendous crimes against Humanity. Kenyans would want to shut up during the time when these men are alive and accuse you for talking about the crimes of these warlords upon their death. Strange Kenyans have even come up with a phrase, It is UnAfrican to celebrate when another dies. ‘Celebrate’ Here stands for anyone mentioning anything evil the man did while alive. Kenyans are peculiar indeed.
Well, I don’t participate in silly melancholic and sadistic rants of heaping praise where a devil is concerned, Bethwel Kiplagat is a warlord. A criminal who escaped the long arm of the government, largely because he was under the protection of the same government.
Justice was long overdue, given the massive opposition to Kiplagat’s membership in TJRC, his besmirched history and, most importantly, his alleged role (implicitly or explicitly) in both human rights violations and unresolved political assassinations during the dictatorship of former President Daniel arap Moi.
When Dr. Robert Ouko, the late Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister, was assassinated by the Moi dictatorship in February 1990, Kiplagat was serving as Permanent Secretary in Dr. Ouko’s Ministry. Investigations into the murder by both Scotland Yard detectives led by Detective Superintendent John Troon, together with two Commission of Inquiries which were set up during and after Moi’s departure, all met with lack of cooperation from Kiplagat. The former PS was increasingly seen by investigators as an agent of cover-up of the late Dr. Ouko’s assassination by virtue of his demeanor during investigations.
Consequently, it could have been anathema if a potentially tainted personality like Kiplagat were to head a key government Commission tasked with investigating past human rights violations and political assassinations especially those committed by a brutal regime that was led by known political gangsters who may have given him orders to act and abet in cover ups of gigantic proportions.
If TJRC were to walk the talk, Kiplagat carries more credibility as a witness in the know of what transpired during “the dark days” when thousands of Kenyans also lost their lives. Despite multiple investigations, the assassination of Dr. Ouko has not yet been resolved and it could be an unforgivable error if a potential witness were to head the very Commission seeking the truth that could lead to the much needed reconciliation in the country. For this reason, Kiplagat had to go regardless of the polemics.
Before the assassination of Dr. Ouko, Kiplagat’s name surfaced on several occasions to the effect that he may have played a role in the macabre Wagalla massacre in 1984, a brutal execution (by Moi’s security forces) of more than 400 Kenya-Somalis in North Eastern Province. According to various reports, Kiplagat visited the area a few hours before the massacre, a visit that came to haunt him as soon as he was named to head the Commission.
Kiplagat served Moi loyally for several years during the dictator’s 24 years of autocratic rule. The bulk of crimes TJRC is mandated to investigate were committed during the Moi dictatorship and even if Kiplagat were to emerge scot-free, the very fact that he held high office during the period under investigation disqualifies FROM RESPECTED MEN IN THIS country
Compiled by Okoth Osewe
Published by Kiplangat Abraham Mutai