Kenya: Stop forced eviction of indigenous Sengwer/Cherangany people
We are deeply concerned by the forced eviction, and consequent other human rights violations, that threaten the forest life and forest homes of the 6000-7000 indigenous people and other communities in Embobut Forest in the Cherangany Hills (Elgeyo Marakwet County, Kenya).
We appeal to the Government and Parliament of Kenya and to the UN organs responsible for guarding and securing the fundamental rights of such communities, to prevent this threatened forced eviction of the indigenous communities and other people at Embobut, which would violate their human rights and international law. The “Report of the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Resettlement of the Internally Displaced Persons in Kenya” has recognised that:
“The Sengwer also referred to as Kimala are the indigenous people of Embobut [...] scattered all over Embobut forest” and “there are one thousand five hundred and forty six (1546) households of the Sengwer people in Embobut forest.” “The Embobut community had lived in the forest since the 18th century and the land they occupied was their ancestral land and even after the coming of the colonial government, they were issued with permits to continue living in the land.”
These people as well as other indigenous communities of the Cherangany Hills who identify themselves as Cherangany have the right to their ancestral territories there compliant with the international commitments of Kenya and the Kenyan constitution article 63.
It would violate the human rights of the indigenous Sengwer / Cherangany peoples, and their right to the customary sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity, if they are forcibly evicted from their ancestral lands and deprived of their own indigenous means of subsistence integral to their forest life, identity, their characteristic sources of food, water, health and shelter and to their cultural survival as a people.
Indigenous communities of Embobut who are former hunter-gatherers, who still depend on gathering medicinal and other forest products, keeping cattle in the forest glades - having their high forestlands as their ancestral lands since time immemorial. This has enabled them to keep their cultural way of life from being assimilated by other neighbouring peoples. They have their cultural sites and spirits within the forest and to be forced to leave the forest would mean abandoning their ancestral spirits' home. Their life is identified with and integral to their high-forested hills as it has shaped their way of life, and sustained them for generations.
Also compliant to its commitments on management and conservation of forest and mountain biodiversity and protected areas, Kenya is responsible in respect to indigenous communities to:
- "protect and encourage customary use of biological resources in accordance with traditional cultural practices that are compatible with the sustainable use" as adapted to local forest regeneration through their traditional occupations and practices of customary tenure and sacred sites
- "respect, preserve and maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable use" and "encourage the equitable sharing of the benefits arising" from biodiversity thus sustained - by their adapted "access to genetic resources for environmentally sound uses".
Sign a petition addressed to the Government of Kenya to Stop forceful and illegal eviction of Sengwer communities in Embobut Forest.
See below photos taken by Yator Kiptum of the eviction of Sengwer from their ancestral landson on 10th January 2014.
Click on image for larger view