Kenya’s Youth Take ‘Peaceful’ Protests to Parliament’s Doorstep


Kenya’s Youth, driven by Gen-Z, continue protests against tax hikes, breaching Parliament. President Ruto, calling for peaceful talks, faces mounting pressure amid police injuries and public outrage.

Kenya’s youth, fueled by discontent over controversial tax proposals, have intensified their protests, with the latest developments marking a significant escalation. Last week saw the injury of a police officer and the president’s agreement to negotiate, but today, protesters breached parliament, signaling a turning point in this grassroots movement.

Government Response and Rising Tensions

President William Ruto, addressing the nation on Sunday, expressed his willingness to engage in dialogue with the protesters.

“I am very proud of our young people… they have stepped forward peacefully and I want to tell them we are going to engage them,”

Ruto stated during a church service in Nyahururu

Despite his characterization of the protests as peaceful, recent events tell a different story. Rights campaigners reported two deaths following last Thursday’s demonstrations in Nairobi. A Kenya Human Rights Commission official confirmed that a 21-year-old, Evans Kiratu, was fatally injured by a tear gas canister during the protests. Additionally, a 29-year-old man was allegedly shot by police officers.

Alleged Abductions and Human Rights Concerns

Young Kenyans participating in anti-Finance Bill protests are allegedly being abducted by masked police officers, leading to heightened concerns about police actions and potential human rights violations. The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and human rights groups have condemned the “unlawful” action. LSK President Faith Odhiambo called out the government over the detention of the protesters and urged the public “to be extra vigilant at this time.”

Several youths and activists have been abducted in connection with their involvement in protests against the finance bill. The incidents have sparked widespread outrage among Kenyans calling for their release amidst the ongoing demonstrations.

Who are the Abducted Activists?

1. Gabriel Oguda: A prominent Azimio blogger and government critic, arrested at his home at around 3am on Tuesday, June 25. His brother, Zachary Oguda, confirmed the abduction by armed men.

2. Shadrack Kiprono (Shady Khalif): Ambushed by civilians dressed as police outside a restaurant in Nairobi’s South B area shortly after discussing his involvement in the June 18 protests. His current whereabouts remain unknown despite CCTV footage capturing the incident.

3. Osama Otero: Hosts popular X Spaces opposing the Finance Bill 2024, reportedly abducted around the same time as Oguda. His brother, Zadock, is also missing.

4. John Frank Githiaka (Franje): Active protester and social media user, arrested from his office at Beast Athletic Offices at Baringo Road in Kahawa Sukari by three suspected armed policemen.

5. Drey Mwangi: Abducted from his residence during the night by suspected officers. His whereabouts are currently unconfirmed.

Protesters React to Increased Abductions

These abductions have sparked outrage in Kenya as a young generation mobilizes to protest against the contentious finance bill. Since Tuesday morning, the hashtag #RejectFinanceBill2024 has trended on social media platforms with over four million tweets.

Is this how the government engages the youth?#Abductions

Carol Radull @CarolRadull on X

Omg waking up to the news that they took them. The message is loud and clear, we all march. We march today for them and against tyranny. This is absolutely unacceptable! Broooo what???? #RejectFinanceBill2024.”

@Honeyfarsafi on X:

The Role of Social Media

Social media has played a crucial role in the protests, with platforms like TikTok and X (formerly Twitter) serving as mobilization tools. Protesters have used hashtags such as #OccupyParliament and #RejectFinanceBill2024 to organize and spread their message. The government’s response included rolling back some tax proposals, but other planned increases on fuel prices and export taxes remain contentious.

A Movement for Change

The youth-led movement has shown remarkable resilience and determination. John Mwangi, one of the organizers, emphasized the non-violent nature of the protests:

“Our movement is about seeking justice and better governance through non-violent means. We urge all participants to remain peaceful and for the police to respect our right to protest.”

What’s Next?

The protests are set to continue, with a nationwide strike called for June 25. The youth are demanding not just the withdrawal of the finance bill but also greater accountability and better governance. The breach of parliament marks a pivotal moment, highlighting the protesters’ resolve to see substantial changes.

In summary, Kenya’s Youth Tax Rebellion has evolved from social media outrage to a powerful grassroots movement challenging the government’s economic policies. With the situation escalating, the coming days will be crucial in determining the future of this movement and the government’s response. As President Ruto himself noted, “We are going to make sure that every child has access to higher education.” The youth of Kenya are making it clear: their voices will be heard, and their demands for a better future will not be silenced.


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