Injuries or deaths during demos can be avoided if protesters, police act responsibly

Kenyans face off against police during Finance Bill protests.

The events witnessed in the past week linked to the Finance Bill have been sobering. How the demonstrations were organised, and mostly led by young people, was unprecedented.

Media reports implied the demos were mostly peaceful. But unfortunately, things still got out of hand, resulting in injuries and even death.

It doesn’t seem like we have seen the last of the demonstrations. It, therefore, makes sense for those demonstrating to remain vigilant about their own safety and well-being.

For starters, those leading the demos should take every precaution to minimize potential confrontations with the authorities.

That’s usually the beginning of chaos and consequent injuries associated with misunderstandings from both parties. Injuries in the midst of demonstrations mostly result from excessive use of force by the authorities.

Police batons may injure some individuals, others may sustain gunshot wounds or be injured by other projectiles including tear-gas canisters. In the ensuing fracas, people will fall and get trampled over, yet still some may be struck by motor vehicles hastily driving away from all the chaos.

Despite your best efforts to avoid any injuries, you may still end up being a victim. Minor injuries like superficial bruises and cuts can be dealt with later. But any significant injury like a deep cut, suspicion of broken bones, or gunshot wounds require immediate action.

Alert your demonstrating comrades ASAP if you sustain any such injuries. What is medically referred to as first aid can be lifesaving in the setting of severe injuries. Fellow demonstrators must voluntarily help the injured, and summon help that may include rapid transport to the nearest hospital.  

It is obviously better to avoid participating in any demos that end up becoming violent. If you get a sense that a peaceful demo is slowly evolving into something else, you are better off getting away pronto. Make your way out of the thick of those gunning for violence rather than be sorry later.

Avoid intimidating the police, they tend to be pretty tense in such situations and may react violently at the slightest provocation. Better to cow away slowly than to stop a bullet.

Those tasked with maintaining public peace and security should also trend with utmost restraint. The human body is so frail that it cannot tolerate a certain level of battering.

Demonstrations can be monitored from a distance, tolerating constitutional rights without undue over-reaction. Maiming fellow humans with large batons and bullets unnecessarily cannot be justified.

Life-changing injuries or deaths can be avoided if demonstrators act responsibly, and the authorities react with restraint.

Dr Alfred Murage is a Consultant Gynecologist and Fertility Specialist.


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