We are deeply concerned by the Government of Kenya’s forceful and illegal evictions of thousands of Sengwer indigenous people from their ancestral lands in Embobut Forest in the Cherangany Hills (Elgeyo Marakwet County, Kenya), which are happening right now.
We urgently need to fund the legal effort to stop these appalling evictions. To donate funds please visit JustGiving: https://www.justgiving.com/SupportSengwerLegalBattle
Situation on the ground:
“With the arrival of forest guards, families are running away from their homes. 12 guards all armed with AK 47 and G3 rifles were getting into peoples' houses. Homes are deserted. The guards shot one bullet in the air before getting into the forest. Lots of confusion, fear, desperation and hopelessness is seen amongst community members. One of the guards was telling fleeing families: ‘Get out of the forest’.”
Forest guards have been burning Sengwer houses, and we estimate that as many as 1000 homes have now been burnt.
One Sengwer woman’s home was still burning as she told us that she was hungry because they came to her home while she was making the morning meal an hour earlier, and she and her four small children had had to run. She came out of hiding and told us that:
"All school uniforms, cooking pans, water containers, cups were burnt. Now the children have to stay home while I find uniform and books. The children are very upset because we have lost everything. The children and elderly people will end up getting pneumonia because we don't have anything to cover ourselves at night"
For many years the Kenyan Government has been trying to move the indigenous Sengwer inhabitants of Embobut off their ancestral land by burning their homes and food stores. They have done this in the name of a fortress conservation approach which seeks to remove local people from their lands, and which makes the environmental situation worse while creating a human rights crisis.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, James Anaya, has urged the Government of Kenya “to ensure that the human rights of the Sengwer indigenous people are fully respected, in strict compliance with international standards protecting the rights of indigenous peoples. Any removal of Sengwer people from their traditional lands should not take place without adequate consultations and agreement with them, under just terms that are fully protective of their rights”, Mr. Anaya stressed.
We appeal to the Government and Parliament of Kenya and to all responsible for guarding and securing the fundamental rights of such communities, to stop this forced eviction of the indigenous communities and other people at Embobut, which violates their human rights as protected by the constitution and international law.
According to the 2010 Kenya Constitution (Article 63) and international law, the indigenous Sengwer have the right to not be moved from their ancestral territories unless they have given their free, prior and informed consent.
These evictions are also in contempt of an interim injunction secured in the High Court in March 2013, and renewed on November 21st 2013, which makes the forced eviction of Sengwer homes a criminal offense.
For further background information on this case please visit: http://www.forestpeoples.org/topics/legal-human-rights/news/2014/01/kenya-defies-its-own-courts-torching-homes-and-forcefully-evi