Sunday, August 28, 2005

Clergy calls for truth

Clergy Calls for Truth Body

The Nation (Nairobi)
August 28, 2005
Posted to the web August 28, 2005

Nyabonyi Kazungu

The Government should set up a truth and reconciliation commission to probe unresolved murders and individuals accused of looting public coffers, the Catholic Church said yesterday.

The Church also called for the release of the Akiwumi report on ethnic clashes.

Bishop Peter Kairo, the Chairman of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, made the demands at Ngong's Embul Bul Parish where faithful and human rights activists marked Fr John Anthony Kaiser's fifth anniversary. The late priest testified before the Akiwumi Commission but his testimony was allegedly expunged from the report.

Bishop Kairo of Nakuru Diocese and retired Bishop Davies Collins of Ngong Diocese led yesterday's celebrations. The occasion was also attended by priests, nuns and faithful from different dioceses across the country.

Pope Benedict XVI, in a message sent through his representative, the Apostolic Nuncio Alain Paul Lebeaupin, described the late Fr Kaiser as a priest who lived his priesthood with a spirit of self-denial up to the end.

"He was very compassionate to his parishioners in all their suffering, and in a special way, the homeless, the hungry and the weak," the Pope said.

Bishop Kairo said Fr Kaiser's death had taught the Church a lot. The priest's heroic acts, said the bishop, showed how a country should defend people's rights.

He urged the Government to defend the rights of the homeless and victims of sexual violence.

"Let us pray for all those who have fought for the truth and died for that course," he said in his homily.

The Church was worried by the fact that the Inquest into Fr Kaiser's death five years ago had taken too long.

"I know the case is in court but the question I ask, did he really commit suicide? Those who went there and found him lying and left side of the head blown up, did he really kill himself? Even if it takes us three or four years from now, we will continue being anxious to know the truth," he said.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A speech I once gave

In July of 2001, I was asked to speak on behalf of our family at a symposium, sponsored by Kenyans living in Minnesota, for John. Sen. Paul Wellstone, who was a strong advocate for our family in seeing the truth be told regarding John's death, also appeared.

Following is the speech I gave at this occasion:

Good afternoon. I am the niece of Fr. John Kaiser.

I thank you for inviting me to speak today. I consider it an honor and a privilege to talk about John, a man who touched thousands of lives in ways I'll never fully know. But I hope I can explain to those of you who may not be familiar with him exactly why we are all so devoted to our fight for justice -- both in John's death and in his life.

John was a Mill Hill missionary.

What is a missionary? He is a person who loves God and consequently his fellow man so much that he will leave his country, his home, his family to do the work of the Lord where the need is greatest.

That is what my uncle, Fr. John Kaiser, was.

He worked among the Kenyans of East Africa for 36 years -- nearly my entire life -- and for 26 years with the Kisii, celebrating the sacramental life of the church, preaching and teaching.

A missionary is a practical person. With his own hands John built churches, schools, maternity hospitals, cisterns and wells. He was a farmer who taught better agricultural practices. A hunter who kept his people fed.

Trouble was brewing in the early 90s as a corrupt and cruel government was displacing the Kikuu tribe and grabbing their fertile land. John volunteered to be their chaplain at the Maela refugee camp.

The conditions were horrible and John spoke out against three cabinet members who were responsible for the land grabbing.

Twice he was arrested, beaten and released.

The third time after being arrested and beaten, he was taken far into the bush and was left to be the food of lions and jackals. He walked to safety with only a heavy stick and a strong guardian angel.

John had spoken out against the corrupt and powerful and his days were numbered.

To protect him, the Bishop sent him to Llolgorien, a far outpost overlooking the Serengeti and Rift Valley to work among the Masaii.

Unfortunately, peace was short lived.

Government troops pillaged and murdered and blamed it on tribal clashes.

Again John spoke out. He received death threats. He was pursued and hounded. His house would be surrounded at night, his windows broken with rocks.

On August 24, 2000, he was killed. A Mill Hill missionary was now a martyr. In the Daily Nation, a Kenyan newspaper, it was reported that Andrew Kimetto, a police commander, stated that John was told to kneel, say his last prayers and was shot in the back of the head. When questioned how he knew this, he said he had ways of getting this information.

And yet, the FBI reports that John's death was consistent with a suicide. To anyone who knew John, that is a totally unacceptable answer.

As a family, we constantly receive reports from people saying they know who was responsible for John's death, but cannot tell for fear of their own lives. Without their help, we are struggling to convince the Attorney General and the Secretary of State to reject the FBI report and clear John's character and bring about true justice.

Many of the Kenyans here today know the struggles John faced in his fight for human rights. Some of you may be familiar with the award he received from the Kenyan Law Society a few months before his murder.

The award, for the distinguished service in the promotion of human rights, was a rare departure from tradition in that John was the only recipient.

The award, which I show you, stated John's unshakable commitment to truth and justice was both his gift and his burden. To quote from the statement in support of the award, "The life and times of Fr. John Anthony Kaiser stand out as a study in courage, determination and sacrifice on behalf of the weak, the oppressed and down-trodden. He does not consider himself a civil rights worker. He would not call himself a human rights activist let alone its champion. He would not admit to all his achievements which have emboldened and inspired many to love truth, cherish liberty and fight for human rights. Father Kaiser says he is just a simple parish priest. We agree. And we honor him."

We love you and miss you, John. Watch over us as we continue what you so wonderfully started.

Thank you.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Five years ago ... right now

It was exactly five years ago, almost to the minute, that Fr. John Kaiser was murdered in Kenya. My mother, John's sister, called me a few minutes ago, noting the time. Kenya is about eight hours ahead, and it is believed he was murdered around 4:30 a.m.

It's been five years of torment, five years of struggle, five years of hope that the truth would finally be told.

Following, I have printed a sermon by John's bishop, Bishop Cornelius, presented at the fourth anniversary service.

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today I speak to you as one who has lived through experiences best forgotten but long remembered. In the old prayers on "The Way of the Cross" are the Words ' The Crowds have left the heights of Calvary and none remain except the holy women and beloved disciple'.

These words echo through my mind today as we pray for John Kaiser and look at his fears and dreams.

The grass now covers his final Resting place and the Ravages of time have obliterated the roadside scars of his deathsite. They say age causes the sharpness of the mind to be dulled but they do not know that our minds will remain focused on that terrible event of August four years until we can say 'Now John you are dismissed. Take your Rest.'

My dear people of God, the life and death of John Kaiser had its effect on all of us.

Some remember his kindness, his care, his faith, his simplicity. Some remember his stubborn manner, his relentless pursuit of the truth, his dedication to the voiceless oppressed.

Some remember him with exasperation as somebody who refused to lie down, stay silent or deviate from his God given mission to serve the poor on whom have been imposed hell in this life.

Some are afraid of the truth and watch their steps during the day and the shadows at night. Some want to forget the injustices they were responsible for and wish they had never heard of Fr. John Kaiser.

And some are inspired by his life and work when no light appears at the end of the tunnel of life.

His death has touched us like the other martyrs of old.

Jesus Christ came to change the world - to speak for the poor, the down trodden and oppressed. It would be senseless person who would say that John Kaiser did not follow his example. So, let us not tire but continue to be inspired by his life.

If John Kaiser was alive today. I wonder what he would say.

To the leaders of the Church he would say - Do not tire, Do not be afraid. The gates of Hell will never prevail against us. Lead by example and take heart.

To the civil leaders of all political persuasions he would say; I hardly see the promised Justice. Those who were victims of the clashes still live in almost hopeless conditions. I still hear of dubious deals. I still see the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. I still hear false and empty words. Why do many of our own Kenyan people live as refugees in their own country. Why have the land Report and Akiwumi report on the clashes not been published?

Why must politicians say one thing and do another? Fr. Kaiser would say; Do not let us drift back to the olden days of police harassment at the investigation of absent leaders. Fr. Kaiser would say let your leaders speak with the crystal clear language of the naked truth. He would say let my people, your brothers and sisters have their land back.

To those who are searching for the truth, he would say Justice delayed is justice denied. So let the inquest proceed with all exhibits, all photographs available to it. Let those especially our Attorney General take the matter seriously and quickly help so that justice can be done.

To the Christian family, Fr. Kaiser would say 'Never lose hope, what is hidden in secret will be proclaimed from the housetops. Love one another. No tribalism. You are all children of God and, so he would say be an example, let your light shine before all people.

Finally Fr. Kaiser would be concerned about the fate of women where cases of rape, attempted rape and domestic violence increase, as each day passes. He would say enough is enough. Let the law take its course and deal with the matter. He would say let the victim not be the culprit.

Finally as one who also witnessed the awful tragedy of the clashes. I appeal to the government not to stand idly by while injustice continues. Now is the time for action.

We remember Fr. Kaiser. As Church leaders we have never accepted that he committed suicide. Why drive 100 Kms in the dead of night to kill yourself on a lonely road. Let the truth be known and this truth will set us free.

Fr. Kaiser would say 'Let my people free, free from the slavery of poverty, free from oppression, free from exploitation and free from double speak.

Fr. Kaiser lived and died a Christian. One who loves God and his neighbour. He lived this truth even unto death. He has given us an example.


Sunday, August 21, 2005

Some background ....

Saturday, October 30, 1999

Catholic priest ordered out of Kenya as church raises concern over clash victims

By NATION Correspondent

As a Catholic priest received marching orders out of Kenya yesterday, the Church expressed reservations about government plans to relocate victims of ethnic clashes rather than encourage them to go back to their old homes.

This, the Church's Justice and Peace Commission said, is a way of legitimising the ethnic clashes that rocked Kenya in the early 90s.

The unfortunate priest, who named two Cabinet Ministers while giving evidence before a Commission of Inquiry into the infamous land clashes, has been in the country for 35 years. He was ordered to leave immediately or face prosecution for staying in the country illegally.

Fr John Kaiser, 67, is currently the priest in charge of Lolgorian parish in Trans Mara District. He has served in various parts of the country.

Senior clerics say they believe Fr Kaiser has been kicked out since he is perceived as having played a central role in unearthing a sex scandal involving a senior politician who is also a Cabinet Minister.

The US embassy in Nairobi has taken up the matter, sources said.

The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of the Nakuru Diocese says that founding new settlement areas for the clash victims instead of helping them resettle and interact with those they fought with is an outright way of legitimising ethnic violence and promoting majimboism.

The commission's executive secretary, Mr Ernest Murimi, has criticised is reported by Update, a National Council of Churches of Kenya newsletter, criticising the government for relocating over 1,000 families displaced from Lare to Bararget Forest.

But asked about the resettlement program through which the church has helped resettle clash victims from Narok and Burnt Forest, Mr Murimi said, "We are very clear with our program. It is short-lived and aimed at only assisting those targeted to reorganise their lives. We allocate each family one and half acre to facilitate the re-organisation. We expect those assisted to return to their farms when the situation normalises," he said.

The official said relocating the clash victims can be appropriate when it is temporary and specifically aimed at cooling down the situation but can never be a lasting solution because it is detrimental to peace and reconciliation.

Mr Murimi further said relocation of clash victims to separate sites only creates division and intensifies hatred among those affected by the violence.

He lashed out at the government for recently relocating the Bararget clash victims, saying it would hamper possible reconciliation with the people they clashed with in Njoro and Lare Divisions of Nakuru district.

"The government should have done all in its means to resettle the clash victims instead of pushing them away from their neighbours," Mr Murimi said.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

5th Anniversary

Human rights organizations and the Catholic Church are marking the fifth anniversary of Fr. John Kaiser's death by focusing attention on sexual violence.

The remembrance, which will take place on August 27, includes celebrations at Embul Bul Catholic Church in Ngong. The theme is "Say No to Sexual Violence: Building a Community Based on Human Dignity."

Fr. John was actively involved in helping young women in his parish after being raped by members of former President Moi's cabinet. In particular, he aided two women who had been raped and fathered children by Cabinet Member Julius Sunkuli. Sunkuli has been named several times during the Kenyan inquest being involved in some manner in John's murder.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Help Wanted: Pathologist

For more than a year now, I've been working on finding a forensic pathologist who would be willing to give John's death an impartial review.

I had one lined up on the East Coast -- spoke with the gentleman by phone and he was very interested in helping us. However, I don't know if the threat of going against a professional like Vincent DiMaio scared him off or some other conspiracy, but he never returned a phone call again to either me or our attorney.

I then found another one, also on the East. From what I understand, they reviewed the autopsy report and came back with conclusions that had nothing to do with the forensic evidence provided to them! Instead of going by the book, they used information that did not pertain to their area of expertise. Last I heard, we had asked them to do it the way we hired them and stay out of fields of study they were not accredited in. Whether they've now done that, I just don't know.

So if anyone knows of a good forensic pathologist willing to review our information, please let me know. I've scoured the web, contacted several and have only heard from these two in all this time.

The importance of an independent forensic review is to hopefully negate what DiMaio claims in his report. By looking past the FBI's push for suicide (obvious within their report, the FBI decided John committed suicide shortly after the investigation began), we hope to uncover the proof we need to vindicate John.

We all know he was incapable of committing suicide. We all know he had received death threats. We all know he was determined to bring justice to the Kenyan people, even at the expense of his own life. This is our opportunity to prove it.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Did the police do it?

As the inquest continues in Kenya, recent testimony pointed to the likelihood that Fr. John Kaiser was murdered by four members of the Kenyan police -- at the direction of former President Daniel arap Moi and Member of Parliament Nicholas Biwott and former Cabinet minister Julius Sunkuli.

Their motive? John was planning to testify at the Hague about the ethnic cleansing done under the direction of the former president and his cabinet. This information had been submitted during testimony in the Akiwumi Commission in Kenya regarding land clashes -- a commission that has never released its report.

It may take some digging, but check the Daily Nation website link as well as the East Standard link for past and present articles regarding the ongoing inquest.

As always, please feel free to contact me with any information, remembrances, thoughts, pictures, letters, or whatever regarding John. I'd be glad to post them!


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

August 2005

It's been nearly five years since Fr. John Kaiser was murdered in Kenya. Five years, but he is not forgotten.

For the past two years, an inquest has been held into his death. The U.S. FBI report was denounced as rubbish, as they concluded he committed suicide.

This site will serve as a record of articles, information, remembrances and tributes to Fr. John Kaiser.