Archive 1999

 

OGIEK MINORITY PROTESTS

WILD_ROAR, issue 15.06.99 - ECOTERRA Intl.

Kenya's Chief Justice Zacchaeus Chesoni has not yet given directions to the High Court of Kenya in Nakuru, who requested advise concerning the number of judges, who will have to decide over a pending civil case, in which more than 5000 members of the community of the Ogiek seek orders permanently restraining District Commissioner John Litunda from effecting his threat of evicting the Ogiek families from Tinet Forest against the decision of the President of the Republic of Kenya.

Since serious constitutional matters are touched by this case, the High Court judge had to seek further instructions from the Chief Justice and extended the injunction against the eviction until June 18th.

In an affidavit sworn by Francis Kamei together with nine other elders of the Ogiek minority group, it is stated that the Ogiek were settled in the very forest of their ancestral domain following an order by President Moi.

Though the file has reached the Office of the Chief Justice, no response was received yet, which triggers fear within the Ogiek community that the granted protection period may lapse without a
decision. In a protest letter, filed by their lawyer, the community appealed to receive an answer before June 15th.

"We can no longer live under this permanent threat, that every other week we might be evicted by force and will have to suffer irreversible loss - that's torture!", stated one Ogiek women, who was born in the area in 1964 and lives there since. "And where shall we go anyway together with our children - we will not be able to trust and to find peace again, if we now could even be chased away from our land against the orders of the Head of State!"

Since also other troubles occurred in Kenya during the last days it is feared that the Government of Kenya, international observers and the media might forget the struggle of the Ogiek and an eviction, sanctioned without court judgement or even illegal, might create terrible facts. Major battles were fought between governmental forces and protesters - led by a joint peaceful action of christian and muslim churches. They protested against the redirection of the constitutional reform process only to the parliament. A representative public opinion poll requested and published by the countries largest
newspaper The Daily Nation, stating the deep mistrust of over 70% of the Kenyan people against the ruling party, shows the rift. And the police battles with Polytechnic Students in Mombasa and

Nairobi spilling tear-gas on many innocent bystanders, show that the fears of the OGIEK to be forgotten are not a mere fantasy during the present times, nicknamed "rioting-season", in Kenya.

"It is therefore even more important that the President of Kenya, the remaining real Kenyan statesmen, as well as the international community, though the international attention seems to
focus mostly on Kosovo, show solidarity with the plight of a minority, who faces immediate destruction of their life and community, if uncontrolled forces of a recognized Government are
permitted to proceed against the orders of its president as well as against humanity."

The good news, as reported in the local media, is that on 14.05.99 another Court in Nakuru ordered the Vice-Chairman of the Nakuru County Council Charles Rono to report now to the Criminal
Investigations Department (CID) Office every Friday. Rono as well his co-accused Rorugu and Barno have denied that on various occasions since 1997 they have received large amounts of money
(cases of up to 400.000 KSh = 20 Tsd US$) from Isaac Kiping'etich Lang'at and others in several allegedly illegal land-deals in Tinet Forest. The hearing of that case will be on 24th of June, whereby it is hoped that an intervention from the Highest Authority and/or a ruling from the High Court will
already have manifested that the indigenous Ogiek people shall be left in peace on their ancestral lands.

"Land-grabbing driving indigenous peoples from their ancestral domain must stop now and forever in Kenya!", reads a sign on the way to Tinet Forest.

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