By; Mgandi Ngala
10 years of activism has been her life as she crossed the Coast region, the country and around the globe in such for justice for victims of human rights violation at the Coastal Kenya.
Salma Hemed revealed that activism has been her life, always deliberating the next move to protect women, children and the youth against human rights violation.
She has taken various challenges including initiating community dialogues on the security situation in Mombasa, Kwale and Lamu Counties and the positive results are evident.
Salma disclosed that the emergence of juvenile gangs in the tourist destination of Old town, Majengo, Bondeni and Kisauni in Mombasa is one of the most disturbing social problems that as a mother, a wife, a daughter and a Gender and child rights activist experienced sleepless nights.
Her activism began at the Muslims for Human Rights-MUHURI before uniting with Hussein Khalid to start the now giant human rights organization Haki Africa.
At 35, the young, energetic, hardworking, hopeful and down to earth gender and child rights activist at the Coastal Kenya said she will only retract when her dreams of a region free of human rights and gender based violence, respect for the rule of law and human dignity are fulfilled.
She had to suspend all her activities including our interview at around 1 pm since it was on Friday so that she can pray right in her office along Nkrumah road in Mombasa
“The tough assignment remain working in a morgue to identify bodies of missing persons most of them the deaths through extra judicial killings,” she painfully retorted.
She continues, “I have been into almost all mortuaries at the Coast, Lamu, Msambweni at the South Coast, Joacham and the Coast general hospital in Mombasa, Voi and Wesu Sub- county hospital mortuaries in Taita taveta County in such for the truth about whereabouts of persons who disappeared under unclear circumstances, some allegedly in the hands of security agents,” she noted.
Salma clearly remembers Masjid Musa raid on 2nd of April 2014 in Majengo where a total of 11 youth were killed and dozens disappeared, while those arrested she says to date they suffer psychologically.
“Those young boys of up to 9 years old were arrested and three days later released to their parents without any charges or trauma counseling, they are not safe psychologically,” she added.
The same year, Salma was among human rights defenders who led the campaign ‘Justice for Kwekwe Mwandaza’ a 14 year old girl who was killed by police officers at Kinango in Kwale County, two years later two Police officers Kinango DCIO Veronica Gitahi and Corporal Issah Mzee were handed over a 7 year jail term by Mombasa High court.
[Haki Africa’s Gender and child rights defender, Salma Hemed leading anti corruption campaign demonstration in Mombasa/ Photo/Cyrus Ngonyo].
However, the plights of Kenyans and especially women working in the Middle East still breaks her heart, campaign against corruption, fighting violent extremism among youth and women at the Coast, extra judicial killings where she launched her successful campaign ‘What do I tell the women’, in a bid to console and help women who lost their husbands and children during the anti- terror security operation at the Coast recollect their lives are just but some of gender and human rights assignment she was directly involved.
“With all these devastating encounters, am not relenting until the day I will see justice for all, respect for the rule of law and human dignity in the country,” she reveals with her tears slowly rolling down her cheeks.