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March 12, 2014

 

DOWNLOAD A PDF VERSION OF THE LETTER HERE

We, the No REDD in Africa Network (NRAN) together with the Sengwer Indigenous Peoples Programme and the undersigned 66 organizations and over 300 individuals, strongly condemn the massive evictions and forced relocation of the Sengwer Indigenous People, one of the few remaining hunter-gatherers of the world, from their ancestral home in Kenya’s Cherangany Hills. The Kenyan government calls the Sengwer People ‘squatters and or Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs),’ despite the fact that they and their ancestors have lived in the Cherangany Hills since time immemorial; and that Article (63d) of the Kenyan constitution (2010) grants them inalienable rights to their ancestral lands. 

Sengwer spokesman Yator Kiptum denounced the “disaster” carried out by a combined force of the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and Administration Police, a paramilitary unit of the police, now evicting the Sengwer, destroying property and burning homes[i]. “The government of Kenya is forcing us into extinction," he said.[ii] According to international human rights law such as the Convention on Genocide, forced relocation of ethnic or racial minorities is a very grave violation and can constitute genocide.

World Bank’s complicity

We take great exception to the press statement issued by the World Bank[iii] in which it attempts to distance itself from the forced relocation of the Sengwer People. The cause and effect is perfectly clear; the Bank in its highly controversial role as both carbon credit financier and broker is aiding and abetting the forced relocation of an entire Indigenous Peoples through its Natural Resource Management Plan (NRMP) which includes REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), in the Cherangany Hills.

What is perhaps most disturbing about the statement is the World Bank’s offer to the Kenyan government, “to share best practices in resettlement in line with its safeguard policies. These seek to improve or restore the living standards of people affected by involuntary resettlement.” The World Bank is both admitting its complicity in the forced relocation of the Sengwer People as well as offering to collude with the Kenyan government to cover-up cultural genocide. Claims of being able to restore and improve the living standards of evicted people such as the Sengwer are crude, paternalistic, colonial in nature and above all smack of sheer arrogance on the World Bank’s part.

Background

Forced evictions and displacements were started in early 1980s, unsuccessfully. However, from 2007 when an Indigenous Peoples Planning Framework (IPPF) for NRMP was adopted by both Kenya Government and World Bank, there have been almost yearly forced evictions of the Sengwer People[iv] with the latest evictions being the most violent of them all. It is no coincidence that the evictions began in 2007, the very same the year that the World Bank’s Natural Resource Management Project started[v].

In 2013, the Sengwer People moved to court to file an injunction against their imminent removal from their homes and on 25th March 2013, an interim injunction was secured at the Eldoret high-court. These orders were further extended in November and on 18 January 2014; the same court issued further orders requiring that the police arrest anyone breaching the injunction until the matter of community rights to their land is resolved. The government of Kenya has continued to ignore these court orders, taking upon itself the role of judge and prosecutor of the Sengwer People’s case – it continued to burn houses, destroy property – hence force Sengwer families to flee from their ancestral homes and lands – their community land with respect to article 63 of the Constitution of Kenya.

The Sengwer Peoples are being accused of encroaching on and destroying the forests in the Cherangany Hills, leading to the drying up of rivers that provide water to nearby towns and villages. The government of Kenya states that evicting these ‘squatters’ is the only way to begin the ‘conservation’ of the ecosystems and specially the forests in the area. This is a complete obfuscation of the truth. The Sengwer Peoples have always preserved these ecosystems in their ancestral land by practicing by living sustainably and are now facing complete annihilation under the guise of ‘conservation’ under REDD. 

The Kenyan government insists on not distinguishing between the Sengwer Peoples and a large group of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), including those affected by the 2007-2008 post-election violence, and victims of landslides who have settled in the Embobut Forest area. The government’s refusal to make this distinction is an attempt to falsely label the Sengwer as “squatters and IDPs.”

REDD driving Land Grabs and Forced Relocation of Indigenous Peoples

We are alarmed at the obvious connection between these evictions and the World Bank’s funding of the Kenyan government’s REDD+ ‘readiness’ program in the Cherangany Hills through the bank’s Natural Resource Management project (NRMP). REDD is a highly controversial emissions reduction scheme that uses forests, plantations and lands in the Global South as carbon offsets and supposed sponges of the fossil fuel carbon emissions and pollution from the Global North.

The head of conservation at the Kenya Forest Service, Mr. Solomon Mibei, is on record stating that “REDD+ mechanism is a future option.” He also admitted that the KFS is doing carbon financing workshops with communities. “At the moment, the KFS is conducting workshops with communities living around the Cherangany Hills which includes Embobut forest and the Kakamega forest to educate them on carbon financing.” Furthermore, the Kenya Forest service was the REDD+ focal point, but due to criticism the focal point was moved to the Ministry, yet the same individual, Alfred Gichu, continues to be in charge.

REDD+ allows rich polluting countries to shirk their historical responsibilities for and contribution to the climate crisis we now face by enabling them to shift the burden to ‘developing’ countries like Kenya. Instead of reducing emissions at source, which is the only sustainable way to stop the climate catastrophe, such schemes allow them to pretend to reduce emissions elsewhere in the world. Unfortunately as the Sengwer case shows, it is the poorest and most marginalized in developing countries who not only suffer the most from climate change but also the negative effects of the false solutions to climate change like REDD. These false solutions, above all, enable global economic interests to benefit from massive land grabs and the abuse of human and environmental rights.

The World Bank project initially claimed to address land claims of the indigenous communities, as part of the process of ensuring the fair and effective management of the Cherangany Hills forest. This was welcomed by the Sengwer Peoples who thought it would be a great opportunity to address decades of marginalization and loss of access to their ancestral lands which they had faced under the hands of successive Kenyan governments.

But this initiative was soon dropped by the KFS and the Bank in 2011(without consulting Sengwer Indigenous peoples as required by WB OP 4.10) which claimed that it was ‘too complicated’ but at the same time continued to fund the Kenyan government’s REDD+ work in the Cherangany Hills, thereby further entrenching the marginalization of the Sengwer People[vi].

In January 2013, members of the Sengwer Peoples made a formal complaint to the World Bank’s Inspection Panel, the organ tasked with the duty of reviewing the impacts of the projects funded by the World Bank[vii]. The Inspection Panel visited Kenya in May 2013 to assess the eligibility of the complaint and members of the Sengwer Peoples described the loss of access to much of their ancestral lands as well as their traditional right to protect the forests which they have always depended on for their survival[viii]. Also the community complained of forceful evictions and displacements and lack of free prior and informed consultations as a requirement in the bank’s procedures and policies. The Inspection Panel found the complaint to be admissible and a full investigation was recommended, with the final outcome of the investigation expected by the end of the first quarter of 2014.

Unfortunately, the abuses against the Sengwer People are not an exception. The violent eviction of the Ogiek People from the Mau Forest for UNEP-funded REDD is another example of Indigenous Peoples in Kenya being evicted for REDD.[ix]

The No REDD in Africa Network’s Maputo Declaration (2013)[x], declared that REDD-type projects are leading to the displacement of forest dependent communities, servitude, killings, repression and other human rights abuses, and the Sengwer Peoples’ plight is a clear example of what we condemn and why there must be no REDD in Africa.

The No REDD in Africa Network has repeatedly denounced that  REDD+ is not merely a false solution to climate change, but is emerging as a new form of colonialism, economic subjugation and a driver of land grabs so massive that they may constitute a continent grab.[xi] We must defend the continent from carbon colonialism. 

The forced relocation of the Sengwer Peoples by the AK-47 touting Kenya Forest Service is reminiscent of the forced removals of rural communities by the then South African government during the apartheid era. We had hoped that this kind of history would not repeat itself in the continent. 

Demands to Government of Kenya:

1. We demand that the government of Kenya immediately and definitively halt the evictions of the Sengwer Indigenous Peoples, return their ancestral lands and provide full reparations and compensation and provide guarantees that they will not be attacked again.

2. We demand that the government of Kenya should issue a formal apology to the Sengwer, duly recognizing these law-abiding citizens of Kenya of as the owners and best custodians of their territory and forests in the Cherangany Hills.

Demands to Governments and the United Nations:

  1. We request that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Special Adviser on Genocide, the UN Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples,  the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-repetition, the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples and the UN Expert Mechanism on Indigenous Peoples immediately coordinate, issue statements and take measures to halt the forced relocation and extinction of the Sengwer People, as well as propose concrete measures for the recovery of their territory, reparations, justice and guarantees of non-repetition.
  2. We demand that governments, companies, carbon traders, the World Bank and the United Nations including UN-REDD, UNEP, UNDP and others immediately cancel these harmful REDD and other carbon offset schemes.
  3. We request that the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Adviser on Genocide prepare a report on how REDD and carbon offsets are causing violations of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  4. We demand the creation of an International Truth Commission on the forced relocation of the Sengwer People and abuses associated with REDD, REDD-type projects, the Clean Development Mechanism and carbon trading and carbon offsets in the world; composed of Indigenous Peoples, local communities and experts on human rights, the environment and the climate.

Request to African Commission:

  1. We invite the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights to prepare a report on the impact of REDD and carbon offsets on the Indigenous Peoples, local communities and land grabbing in Africa.

In closing, we cordially request that the Government of Kenya, the United Nations and the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights to respond to these demands and requests, and take the corresponding action.

For the No REDD in Africa Network (NRAN), Sengwer people & undersigned organisations,

Signed by: Nnimmo Bassey & Anabela Lemos

Cc:

  • President - Uhuru Kenyatta
  • United Nations Secretary General - Ban Ki-Moon
  • President of the World Bank - Jim Yong Kim
  • UN High Commissioner on Human Rights - Navi Pillay
  • UN Special Adviser on prevention of genocide - Adama Dieng
  • UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples - James Anaya
  • UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-repetition - Pablo de Greiff
  • UN Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect - Jennifer Welsh
  • United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples
  • African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights and its Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities in Africa
  • Coordinator of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Programme on Indigenous Peoples - Dr. Albert Barume
  • UN-REDD Programme Policy Board and Secretariat
  • UNEP, Executive Director Achim Steiner
  • UNDP, Administrator Helen Clark
  • Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR)

LIST OF SIGN-ONS

International and Regional level organisations

No REDD in African Network

African Biodiversity Network

Indigenous Environmental Network

Health of Mother Earth Foundation

The Rules

Friends of the Earth International

World Rainforest Movement

Forest Peoples’ Programme

Oilwatch Africa

International Rivers

Food and Water Watch

Food and Water Europe

Carbon Trade Watch

Young Friends of the Earth Europe

Global Forest Coalition

Focus on the Global South

Survival International

Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities on Climate Change against REDD and for Life

 

National-level organisations 

Sengwer Indigenous Peoples Programme, Kenya

Justiça Ambiental (Friends of the Earth Mozambique)

Timberwatch, South Africa

Rainforest Resource and Development Centre, Nigeria

Environmental Rights Action (Friends of the Earth Nigeria)

Platform, United Kingdom

National Association of Professional Environmentalists (Friends of the Earth Uganda)

The Woodland League, Ireland

ARA (Working Group on Rainforests and Biodiversity), Germany

Biofuelwatch, United Kingdom/ United States of America

Community Environmental Monitoring, India

Amigos da Terra Friends of the Earth Brazil)

Both Ends, Netherlands

Earth in Brackets, USA

Maendeleo Endelevu Action Programme, Kenya

The Rural Initiatives Development Programme, Kenya

Landless People's Movement of South Africa 

Sustainable Development Institute (Friends of the Earth Liberia)

Society for Threatened Peoples, Switzerland

Re:Common, Italy

Xarxa de l'Observatori del Deute en la Globalització, Catalonia

The Corner House, United Kingdom

Denkhausbremen, Germany

WALHI Nasional - FoE Indonesia

GardenAfrica, UK

Dogwood Alliance, UK

EcoNexus

Yamasi people, Georgia, USA

Asian Pacific Environmental Network, California, USA

Links Ecologisch Forum, Belgium

Acción Ecológica, Ecuador

Landless Peoples’ Movement, South Africa

Oakland Institute, USA

Sustainable Development Institute (Friends of the Earth Liberia)

GRAIN

DAWN - Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era

OFRANEH (Organizacion Fraternal Negra Hondureña), Honduras

fsurviBejoe Dewangga Walhi Lampung, Indonesia

Klimaat en Sociale Rechtvaardigheid / Climat et Justice Sociale, Belgium

Community Action for the Conservation of Nature (CANCO), Kenya

Aitec-Ipam

Attac France

Kulima, Mozambique

Kutsemba, Mozambique

ADECRU, Mozambique

Centre for Civil Society, Durban, South Africa

NOAH (Friends of the Earth Denmark)

Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), Philippines

Individuals

Elaine Hsiao (USA/ Canada)

Rachel Golden

Laura Ansell (Australia)

Jessica Castro (Puerto Rico)

Demir Baric

Kamal Thapa (Nepal/ Austria)

Marina Christofidis

Aziz Ahmed (Denmark/Pakistan)

Alejandra Calzada

Miao He (China/ Belgium)

Roberto Cazzolla Gatti

Melanie Zurba (Canada)

Jon Prescott (USA)

Epeli Maisema

Pau Sanosa (Spain)

Dalia Jawhary

Sieglinde Rode (South Africa)

Elyse Curley (Canada)

Alejandra Echeverri (Canada/Colombia)

Bruno Monteferri (Peru)

Nassirou Gueye (Senegal)

Luciana Ludlow Paz (Mexico)

Christine Kelly (Canada)

Roberto Cazzolla Gatti (Italy)

Laura Máiz (Spain)

Caterina De Vivo (Italy)

Mariasole Bianco (Australia/Italy)

Romina Giugovaz, Italy

Soraya Ponte, Spain

Brett Cease, USA

Shirley Meguinis-Martin, First Nations, Canada

Sergio   Couto, Spain

Thomas Manzitti, USA

Caroline Savery, USA

John Bryan, USA

James   Igoe, USA

Darlene Bressette Walkswithwolves, USA

Anglique Sophina, USA

Jill Dufort, USA

Adrienne Fabrizio, USA

Thomas Waters, USA

William Newman, USA

Sarah Hughes, USA

Premadasi Amada, USA

Mariela Hernandez Cruz, USA

Marina  Ortega, USA

Janice Mickle, USA

Linda Fontaine, Canada

Chris Swift, Scotland

Lamine Kane Barrault, USA

Carolina Fleur, USA

Kristin   Glenewinkel

Anne Petermann, USA

Greg and Shara Johnson, USA

Sarah Stock, USA

Dianna  Zampieri, USA

Lynda Jarsocrak, USA

Jan Myrick

Cherolyn Fischer, USA

Laura Kolnick, Canada

Lori Waller, Canada

Linda Swanaon, USA

Rachos Sacramentos, Canada

Rafa     Roszkowski, Poland

Soul Shava, South Africa

Alex Genin

Marcie   Timmins, USA

Alice Holemans, Belgium

Lynn Thompson, UK

Carl Wassilie, USA

Ricardo Coelho, Portugal

Sharon Andrew, UK

Crystal  Bird, Canada

Mark Covell, USA

Rodney Factor, USA

Joan Russ, Canada

Cory Trotter, USA

Juan Nepomuceno Reza, USA

Steve Lawson, Canada

Brenda Ramirez, USA

Megumi Miyata, Japan

Robin Gladstone, Canada

John Neumeister, USA

Frank Ermineskin, Canada

Fioyd James Rose, USA

John Martínez, USA

Autumn Woodward, USA

Raymond Micklon, USA

Nan Stevenson, USA

Ara Johnson, USA

Heather Farrow, Canada

Elke mauer holler, Germany

Rachel Youens, USA

Michael Borucke, USA

Thor Alexander Almelid, USA

Laurie Tuttell, USA

Dwight   Smith, Canada

Anna Faulds, Canada

DENNIS HOERNER, USA

Trish Vanson, Canada

Kathy Bassett, USA

Lydia garvey, US Virgin Islands

Gayle Two Eagles, First Nations, USA

Gayle Klauser, USA

Tara Wiley, USA

Delia Gómez de Agüero, Spain

Paul Mitchell, Spain

Tom Johnson, Canada

Margaret Hammitt-McDonald, USA

CHARLIE SIMONDS, USA

M Pendergast, Canada

Michael Pow, Canada

Zainab   Amadahy, Canada

Jerry Rivers, USA

Heidi Pringle, USA

Donna   Knipp, USA

Wilson   Plain, Canada

L. Bagley, USA

Pauline Hogness, USA

Jeff Hopkins

skye     bougsty-marshall, USA

Linda Hayes, USA

Rachael Hedley, Canada

Monte Martin

Guy Reiter, USA

Angela   Bush, USA

Kare Thiers, USA

marnie   smith, Canada

Sherwyn Zephier, USA

Katherine Leahy, USA

Kari Fjällström, Sweden

Jim adams, Canada

Kristi Collins, USA

Leaf Hillman, USA (Karuk tribe)

Carol White, USA

Jihan Gearon, USA, Black Mesa Water Coalition

Jean Bampoliki, Netherlands

Alma Villanueva, USA

Tom Mccabe, Canada

Anne Dunn, USA

Irl Rickman, USA

Christopher Groden, USA

Alberto  Aprile, Italy

John Dart, USA

Jennifer Ire, USA

Jacqueline Green, USA

Rhonwen Maslen, South Africa

Jan Wharekawa, New Zealand

Wendy  Goetz, USA

Maïka    St-Denis, Canada

Monica Dyer, USA

Judith Deutsch, Canada

Sue Rosenberg, USA

robert    Johnston, USA

Eugenie Boudreau, Canada

damon   rose, USA

Sharon  Garlena,

Hannah Blakeman, USA

Glenda totten-hatch, USA

Paulette eley, USA

Larry Smith, USA

Zara Zsido, USA

Kathryn Barnes, USA

William Callahan, USA

James   Cameron, USA

Lora Webb, USA

Carolyn Cullings, USA

James   Bourgeois, USA

R. I. Jenkins, USA

Anairda Cordova, UK

Reginald Cottle, Canada

Bob Thomson, Canada

Aly Tharp, USA

Simone Lovera, Paraguay

Rosie Umstattd

monroe edwin      jeffrey, USA (International Tribal Association)

Siusaidh Chaimbeul, Mohawk territory, Canada

Diana Somerville, USA

Grace Horowitz, USA

Julie Lipkin, USA

John Weber, USA

Sheila Danko, Canada

Eleanor Perry, UK

Soumya Dutta, India

Anthony Tripp, USA

Louis Head, USA

Ruth Wplk, USA

BERON alain, France

CM Navarro, USA

Timothy Perkins, france

Elizabeth Ramirez, USA

Andrew Fraser, canada

Julie Pelzer, Canada

Lisa Burroughs

Stephanie and John Funiciello, USA

Bill McGuire, USA

Maria Gunnoe, USA (Goldman Prize winner)

Annette Klapstein, USA

Solna Blanchard, USA

Jack Thornburgh, Canada

Natalie Kalustian, USA

Anthony G. Gonzales, USA

Juliet parfrey, USA

Therese Coupez, USA

White Bear, USA (Apache)

Richard Richards, USA

Janet Keating, USA

Robin Blakeman, USA

Alan Cooper, Canada

Frank patton, USA

Fritzi redgrave, USA

Laurie Leyshon, USA

Claire Todd, USA

Nina Hapner, USA

Gloria Filax, Canada

Simeon Gallu, UK

John Parker, Ph.D., USA

John Anderson

Nat Latos, USA

Jose Kat, USA

Casey Pegg, USA

Raul Lima, USA

Andrea Brock, UK

Don & Roberta Thurstin Timmerman, USA

Kristian Boose, USA

Michael Austin, USA

Brian Hill, USA

Philip Strickland, USA

Lana Whiskeyjack, Canada

Hayden Hedman, USA

John Sharkey, Canada

Matt Remle, USA

Ill Weaver, Turtle Island

Jake Haiwagai`I Edwards, USA

Nikhil Aziz, USA

Michael Tims, Canada

Scott royder, USA

Enzian Thilo Schneider, Germany

David Kraft, USA

Luan Marks, USA

Walda katz-fishman, USA

Patricia Heaton, USA

Patricia Siemen, USA

Georga Grivois, USA

Laura Ankerson, USA

Robert Steininger, USA

Jane Wilson, USA

Robin Youngblood, USA

Brenda Jo McManama, USA

Kurt and Karen Weidner, USA

Kitaka   Keambiroiro, Bermuda

Anita Clinton, USA

Paul Densmore, USA

Guy Wells, USA

Nancy   Brown, USA

Christian Leahy, USA

Glendabeth brewer, USA

Sara Bissen, USA

Tiffany Adams, USA

Linda Davis, USA

Leslye   Abbey, USA

Diane D'Arrigo, USA

Ken Vanden Heuvel, USA

Brad Knight, USA

Ann Lipsitt, USA

Sheila cazzoli

Maury Grimm

Chihiro Geuzebroek, Netherlands

Velma   Houser, USA

Beth Brownfield, USA

Dionicio Barrales, Canada

Eric kaipainen, Canada

Katrina  Maczen-Cantrell, USA

Rishi     Awatramani, USA

Jeanne Bulla

Larry Powell

Yvonne Taylor, USA

Dr Makere Stewart-Harawira

Vivian Jimenez Estrada

Judy conti

Esperanza roncero

Chris Nelson

Jim Gibson

Paul Pfifferling

John Waters

Mary Schellentrager

Robin Markle

Carla Dhillon

Sadie Morgan

Margaret Sutherland

Vivian Newman

Vivian Stockman

Chacity Alain

Marilynn Jesmain

Laura Harrison

Kate Chung

Paige Ruane

Delight  Byrne

Christian Mayer

Jessica Cook

Stew Guernsey

Marta storer

Alice     Grange

 

 

DOWNLOAD A PDF VERSION OF THE LETTER HERE

 


[ii] Kenyan government forcing us into extinction’: evictions of Sengwer tribe escalate , Survival International, 24 January 2014  http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/9932

[iv]World Bank Inspection Panel, Report and Recommendation KENYA: Natural Resource Management Project (P095050),  29 May ‘13, pg. 70, available on http://bit.ly/1jtGMMb

[v] Project Appraisal Document, World Bank, February 26, 2007, available on  http://bit.ly/1jtHtoK

[vi]Kenya defies its own courts: torching homes and forcefully evicting the Sengwer from their ancestral lands, threatening their cultural survival.

Forest Peoples Programme. Available on: http://bit.ly/1eCydMY

[vii]How the World Bank is implicated in today’s Embobut Evictions, Forest Peoples Programme. http://bit.ly/1eCydMY

[viii] World Bank Inspection Panel, Report and Recommendation KENYA: Natural Resource Management Project (P095050),  May 29, 2013, page 70, http://bit.ly/1jtGMMb