Kenyans stage demo over plot to deport diplomat
Published on December 17, 2007, 12:00 am
By Standard Team
Kenyans living in Sweden held a demonstration to protest an alleged deportation attempt of an embassy official.
They waved placards outside the Kenyan embassy on Stockholm Birger Jarlsgatan 37, on Jamhuri Day to stop the repatriation, which they termed inhuman.
The ailing official has been fighting attempts to repatriate him for the last one month, The Standard learnt.
Mr Raphael Cheruiyot, 40, a career diplomat, suffers from myasthenia gravis, a disease that attacks the muscles and paralyses its victim.
|Protesters outside the Kenyan embassy in Stockholm, Sweden. Picture by Correspondent|
Kenyans residing in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries took to the streets of Stockholm in the protest led by a Ms Ruth Bundotich, Mr Tarus, Mr Nahashon Mbugua, Mr Clay Onyango and Ms Caroline Kosgei.The embassy is also accredited to the Kingdom of Denmark, the Republic of Finland, Iceland and the Kingdom of Norway.
They said deporting Cheruiyot would be inhuman because he needs specialised treatment, which can only be found abroad. A story posted on jamii.wordpress.com website alleged a plot “to pluck Cheruiyot” from Karolinska Hospital’s Rheumatology Care Unit on November 29 and put him on a Nairobi-bound plane at Arlanda Airport.
The report says Cheruiyot, a third secretary at the embassy, has been fighting a long-drawn-out battle with the embassy and the Government since his hospitalisation in April. Apparently, the report says, the Government got a doctor from Kenya to go and authorise the discharge of the officer from the hospital.
“Swedish authorities had refused to release the patient if he could not be accompanied by a doctor and had we not protested, he would have been put on a plane home on November 29,” Ms Bundotich said in an interview with The Standard.
A physician, Dr Patrick Juma, told The Standard the disease is genetic and can be controlled by immune modulators, which reverse the attack of the muscles by anti-bodies.
Cheruiyot’s family— his wife and a boy, 10, have been thrown out of the embassy house. The boy has since dropped out of school.
His mother, Mrs Esther Cheruiyot, who travelled to Sweden to be with her son spoke of the pain of seeing her first-born sick and bed-ridden.
She said on telephone from Stockholm, “I have left it all to God, my son lives in perpetual pain.”
But Mrs Purity Muhindi, the Kenyan ambassador, has denied that the embassy wanted to deport Cheruiyot.
“Cheruiyot’s tour had ended and as is with all civil servants they are recalled home for redeployment,” said Muhindi in a telephone interview. Cheruiyot has been in Sweden for five years.
“I have no authority and capacity to deport anyone, all of us are the employees of the Government. Nothing secretive, nothing unprocedural was done. He had to vacate his residence to give way for his replacement.”
Muhindi says by that time, Cheruiyot had been taken ill and admitted to hospital and his travelling back home was delayed.
The Foreign Affairs office in Nairobi has denied that there was a plan to evacuate Cheruiyot. Ms Hellen Gichuhi the Head of Press and Publicity said Cheruiyot was recovering at his residence. Gichuhi said the Government was aware of the case but said there were no plans for evacuation. “The issue has been misreported … the information we have is that the man is not in the ICU as has been indicated but is recuperating at home,” Gichuhi said. “He is at home and he is unwell but he is not going to be deported … the issue has been blown out of proportion.”
Muhindi said the Government last month decided to evacuate Cheruiyot, but with authority from the Swedish doctors “who said he could recuperate at home”.
“But the true situation is that Nairobi took over the issue from the time his tour ended,” she said. She confirmed that the Government had sent a doctor from Nairobi. It was not clear why the Government wanted to evacuate the official.
Bundotich said Cheruiyot’s illness had been diagnosed and the doctors had just put him on medication when the planned deportation was to be carried out.
He has sought asylum on medical grounds.