Nairobi, Kenya - Human rights advocates in Kenya are condemning what they call 'barbaric acts' by police in their response to protests over the high cost of living. One university student was killed, 31 officers were injured and nearly 240 people arrested Monday in demonstrations organized by opposition leader Raila Odinga.
In a joint statement, the Kenya Human Rights Commission, along with the Constitution and Reform Education Consortium, and Muslims for Human Rights say the violent and excessive use of force and restriction of movement by the Kenyan police was unnecessary.
FILE - Supporters react as Raila Odinga, not pictured, speaks during a protest in Nairobi on March 20, 2023.
News reports say a student from Maseno University in the western city of Kisumu was killed when officers fired live rounds during skirmishes with protesters. On Tuesday, students took to the streets in Kisumu to protest his death, according to local reports.
Separately, the National Police Service says that even after officers restrained themselves and acted according to the law, rioters stormed the Maseno police station, hurling stones at officers and property.
The NPS also says that 10 police vehicles were damaged during Monday's protests.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki praised the police service, which he said 'has done the country proud, despite the day-long provocation by unruly protesters.'
FILE - Riot police fire tear gas to disperse supporters of Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga during a nationwide protest over cost of living and President William Ruto's government in Nairobi, March 20, 2023.
In Nairobi on Monday, police fired tear gas at Odinga's convoy and used water cannon to disperse the crowds as he spoke to supporters from the sunroof of his car in the city's Eastleigh area.
Asked for comment on the protests, the NPS referred VOA to a statement released Tuesday. The service said, 'The unwarranted standoff witnessed on Monday in Nairobi and Kisumu in an illegal demonstration amounts to nothing short of violence against police and economic sabotage.'
The demonstrations were organized by Odinga, who said the high cost of staples such as maize flour was one of the reasons he called for the protests.
Odinga narrowly lost to President William Ruto in last year's election. The longtime opposition leader has called for the protests to be repeated every Monday and Thursday.