News 2008


Urgent work for Human Rights Investigators at Mt Elgon

09. Feb. 2008 - WTN

As PNU and ODM fight it out, who actually won the 2007 elections in Kenya, the Ogiek of Mt Elgon continue to be raped and maimed by the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF), aka Saboti Land Defence Force, a rag-tag militia of heavily armed Bok, who have taken over the Mt Elgon regions.

Work for United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Investigators at Mt Elgon is paramount and urgent.

Latest reports of today confirm that five Ogiek were maimed by marauding SLDF and one woman gang-raped by SLDF members on 7 Feb. 08 at Toboo. The Ogiek victims, who are currently at hospital due to machete cuts, are Mr Cheprot Chelasha, Mr Patrick Masai and Ms Nelly Chemutai. The lady who was gang-raped is Sarah Chepkemoi and is now admitted at Kitale District Hospital

The Ogiek have also lost some of the cattle, which had earlier been confiscated by the Police and taken to Kitale Police Station. It is understood the Police have slaughtered ten Bulls which would have fetched KShs 35,000.00 per bull, thus further distressing the already impoverished Ogiek. The following Ogiek lost cattle to the Police: Mr Sukuku Kiriongi, Mr Kapche Langat, Mr Samuken Makusta. Several goats were also stolen and eaten by the Police.

Many Ogiek, who had gone to sell their cattle at the lowlands in exchange for food have therefore not been accounted for and we call upon the International Community to put pressure on the Kenya Government to ensure that the Mt Elgon District Commissioner and the Trans-Nzoia-West District Commissioner give security and safe passage to the Ogiek who are currently holed up at Saboti Police Station, Kapraina Farm, John Paul Farm and adjacent farms.

The spokesperson from Chepkitale Indigenous Peoples' Development Programme (CIPDP) pointed out that these people need to be transported to Chepkitale to join their kinsmen. He fears that these peoples will be exterminated if urgent rescue measures are not taken. He demands that humanitarian agencies like MSF, who have been providing medical assistance at Laboot and Chepoogweny, must be given free passage and security to go to Chepkitale in order to assist there too. Also the Red Cross and other organizations must be allowed access and must be safeguarded to provide humanitarian assistance, Jeff Simotwo stated.

“Suffice to say that since Sep 2006 Ogiek Children have not accessed their school and we call upon the Government to open temporary Schools at Laboot, Kapchepkelda, Tomooi and Toboo. The Ogiek teachers numbering thirty can assist. Meanwhile we are calling on volunteer teachers to come to us and help out."

Possibly taking advantage of the chaos witnessed after the polls, there are reports that the Mt Elgon area has spawned three other militia groups, further complicating the security situation in the area. These have been formed to counter the Saboti Land Defence Force which controls Kopsiro and Cheptais divisions. The new groups are the 'Janjaweed Militia', the 'Moorland Defence Forces' and the 'Progressive Defence Force' all reportedly allied to rival local politicians. The Saboti militia, while initially active in Mt Elgon, recently spread its attacks to Bungoma and Trans Nzoia districts. It has also started taxing people in the area it controls. However, following displacement of people in the area, the militia is raiding cattle in neighbouring districts for sale in Uganda in return for bullets and other supplies. With the entry of the other militia groups, the situation will be complicated and could undermine the state of security in the surrounding areas.