During King Charles’ state visit to Kenya, the Kenyan government brutally evicted the indigenous Ogiek people from their ancestral forest in the name of conservation. The Ogiek, whose territorial rights have been recognized by the African Court, are now (and not for the first time) in a desperate situation.
Last week, during State visit of King Charles to Kenya, another abuse has occurred against a people living in the Mau forest. Local authorities have started a illegal eviction of approximately 700 Ogiek indigenous people from their homesin collaboration with the Kenya Police and rangers from the Kenya Forest Service and the Kenya Wildlife Service.
The Ogiek are a hunter-gatherer people who have inhabited the central-western highlands of Kenya since time immemorial. The new evictions, carried out in the name of nature conservation, have caused destruction of indigenous homes, some of which were even devastated by flames. It seems, among other things, that the park rangers have forced the Ogiek themselves to demolish their houses, thus trying to convey the idea that the community is leaving voluntarily.
The images and videos of what happened show the real situation that these people are experiencing. A situation that, as we can imagine, is causing serious suffering to people Ogiek, who live in absolute fear and helpless.
Despite two rulings by the African Court on Human and People’s Rights, the Kenyan government has begun the violent eviction of the Ogiek people from their territory. @USAmbKenya @USEmbassyKenya @USAIDEastAfrica @USAIDAfrica @landislife pic.twitter.com/iuWv6sTzsP
-Brian Keane (@Brian_J_Keane) November 2, 2023
Daniel Kobei, spokesperson for the Ogiek and director of the Ogiek People’s Development Program (OPDP), said:
We want King Charles to tell Kenya’s president to “respect the law.” The Ogiek of Mau must obtain their land rights. The Ogiek live in absolute fear, they have nowhere to turn.
The OPDP described this situation as real “humanitarian crisis“. The elders of the Ogiek people have desperately tried to dialogue with government authorities to stop the evictions, but unfortunately without success.
And this is certainly not the first time that the Ogiek have suffered such brutal dispossession at the hands of the Kenyan authorities. Over the years, on several occasions their homes have been destroyed, their property confiscated, and some members of the community have even been killed while trying to protect them. The Ogiek lands were handed over to third parties and complicit politicians, who cut down the Mau forest for profit.
But The problem dates back to the time of the British colonial administration. who evicted the Ogiek in the 1920s and 1940s to create forest reserves and hunting areas, without any consultation or compensation. Since Kenya’s independence, several governments have continued the same policy, forcing many Ogiek to become “conservation refugees.”
In response to these injustices, the Ogiek have attempted to enforce their land rights through the court system by obtaining two important rulings of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), in 2017 and 2022, confirming their territorial rights over the Mau Forest and recognizing their vital role in the conservation of this important area.
Despite all this, the Kenyan government continues to try in every way to expel the Ogiek from their ancestral lands, in clear violation of the decisions of the African Court.
Faced with this situation, international associations have been active for some time and on the occasion of these new evictions International survival once again condemns the Kenyan government’s illegal actions and violations of ACHPR rulings. The organization urges the authorities to respect the law, recognize the Ogiek’s property rights over their land and compensate communities that have suffered repeated attacks and the destruction of their property.
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Source: Survival International