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March 12, 2014

 

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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.

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January 31, 2014

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(Forest guards arrive in Kenya's Embobut Forest in preparation for the evictions. © FPP)

Last year the Government of Kenya was getting “ready” for REDD in the Embobut Forest, now it is violently evicting the Sengwer People and forcing them “into extinction.” According to Survival International, “as many as a thousand homes have already been torched.”[i] 

Sengwer spokesman Yator Kiptum denounced the “disaster” caused by combined force of the Kenya Forest Service and Administration Police, a paramilitary unit of the police, which is now evicting the Sengwer not just from the Embobut Forest but from the entirety of the Cherangany Hills, destroying property and burning homes. “The government of Kenya is forcing us into extinction," he said.[ii]

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Wrongly justified by conservation, thousands of indigenous people in Western Kenya are threatened with their homes being burnt and their communities evicted from their ancestral forestlands.
Thousands of indigenous Sengwer/ Cherangany people in Embobut Forest, Kenya, are threatened with eviction from their forest homes by January 2nd 2014.
 
For many years the Government of Kenya has been trying to move the indigenous Sengwer/ Cherangany of Embobut forest off their ancestral land by burning their homes. The Government has done this in the name of a (long since discredited) fortress conservation approach: seeking to remove local people from their lands, rather than support them in protecting their forests. Such an eviction is illegal under the Kenyan constitution, and under the international treaties signed by Kenya.

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Representatives of Forest Peoples Programme are in Rio for the Rio +20 meeting. FPP put out a press release highlighting Indigenous Peoples’ concerns about the negotiations.

The press release features comments from Indigenous People in Guyana, Kenya, Peru and Panama. They raise several concerns that are relevant to REDD. In Guyana, indigenous peoples have not been properly consulted and their land rights are weakly protected. In Kenya, the government plans to sell indigenous land for plantations and REDD projects. In Peru, mega projects threaten to open up forests, threatening indigenous peoples including those in voluntary isolation. This is happening despite the fact that most governments have signed up to human rights agreements, environmental treaties and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. “We are here in Rio once again to demand that States fulfil their obligations and commitments,” says Onel Masardule of the Kuna people in Panama.

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