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Obama’s Half-Sister Was Tear-Gassed During Kenya Protest

Barack Obama’s half-sister was hit with tear-gas on Tuesday in Kenya as she rallied with protesters demanding that legislators vote against a bill to raise taxes.

Auma Obama, a Kenyan activist and half-sister of the former president, was shown wiping her face and struggling to breathe as she spoke with CNN moments after she said she was hit with tear-gas while demonstrating in Nairobi.

“I can’t believe that these young people are just trying to demonstrate for their rights,” Obama said in the interview with CNN. She said she had attended the protest to support the young demonstrators, “and to tell them that we understand that they need to use their voices and we are being tear-gassed. We’re being tear-gassed! We have flags and banners, nothing else.”

Thousands of protesters swarmed Kenya’s Parliament after lawmakers passed the tax hike on Tuesday and fled through a tunnel as protesters stormed the building, The Associated Press reported. At least five people were fatally shot, dozens were injured and 21 people are missing after the protesters clashed with police, according to a joint statement from Amnesty International and other Kenyan civic groups.

Kenyans already frustrated with the country’s high cost of living have opposed the tax increase that they say will make life only harder. They rallied under the banner “7 Days of Rage” to combat the Finance Bill 2024 that will raise taxes for millions, according to The Hill and The New York Times. The controversial tax increases are an effort to eliminate some of the country’s $80 billion debt. Kenya has been experiencing high inflation in recent years with residents increasingly crushed under the high cost of food, rent and utilities.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission on Tuesday shared videos of police firing at protesters and deploying tear-gas amid the chaos. The group has called on President William Ruto to “end repression of peaceful protesters.”

Young people have largely led the movement against the finance bill, using social media to galvanize protesters using the hashtag #RejectFinanceBill2024. Young people who voted for Ruto in 2022 praised his promises of economic relief. Now, those who are protesting say that they feel betrayed.

“I fell for his lies,” one voter, Oscar Saina, told The A.P. “Now I’m out here regretting why I voted for him.”

Protesters set part of the Parliament’s main entrance on fire, marched with the Kenyan flag and chanted “Ruto must go,” The New York Times reported.

Along with Amnesty International, several other organizations like the Kenya Human Rights Commission and the Kenya Law Society have accused police of abducting dozens of Kenyans. Faith Odhiambo, president of the law society, has decried the alleged abductions in a string of posts on X and the group condemned Ruto.

“Every Kenyan today who has lost his or her life in the struggle to stamp out corruption and seek economic liberation lies in the hands of a rogue and inconsiderate President,” the law society said in a statement that Odhiambo shared on social media.

Ruto was attending an African Union retreat outside Nairobi on Tuesday and has not publicly addressed the day’s protests.

Through tears, Auma Obama on Tuesday urged Kenyan leaders to listen to the young protesters.

“How can you tear-gas your own people?” she asked. “Listen to them. Listen to these children, they’re the future.”


  • Mario says:

    And this happened in Barracks home country!

  • Loring says:

    Oh, that the USA only had 80 billion in debt.



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