Kenyan police on Monday tear-gassed schoolchildren demonstrating against the removal of their school’s playground, which has been allegedly grabbed by a powerful politician, said a Kenyan human rights activist.
The students from Langata Road Primary School were in the front line of people pulling down a wall erected around the playground, which has been acquired by a private developer said to be a powerful politician, said Boniface Mwangi.
The school has about 1,000 children between the ages of three and 14 and is run by Nairobi city council. Several children were hurt in the police action to disperse the protest and have been taken to hospital.
Some of them had confronted riot police, waving sticks at them. At least one police officer was injured when he was struck by a stone thrown by a protester.
Police spokesman Masoud Mwinyi was not available for comment. Elijah Mwangi, who was in charge of the police officers at the school, said he was following orders. Opposition politician Eliud Owalo said last week that the playground had been grabbed to construct a parking lot for the politician’s hotel adjacent to the school.
“This is brutality beyond words and greed beyond description. It is difficult to believe that police can actually deploy against primary schoolchildren 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.