August 14, 2009
Protectors of the Forest
The indigenous tribe of the Ogiek Community is a forgotten tribe in the Mau Forest in the Kenyan Rift Valley. I am setting up a project to teach them how to make films about themselves, their culture, and their fight against eviction from your ancestral land.
On July 29, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga announced that every single Ogiek would be facing arrest if they did not voluntarily abandon their ancestral lands in the Mau Forest region of Kenya--where the Ogiek have lived for centuries.
Under the auspices of conservation, Odinga claimed that the Ogiek have severly depleted the forest, leaving the government with 'no choice' but to evict everyone so the forest can be restored. As many as 20,000 people are living in the Mau forest.
On August 13, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki followed up the order by issuing one of his own, stating: "The government shall take action against people who destroy forests. Such people should not be spared at all, they should be arrested and charged with immediate effect."
A week earlier, Survival International, referring to the Ogiek as "Conservation refugees", said police forces "have [already] been stationed around the forest in preparation" for the arrests.
"Everyone has been living in fear for the last month," states Kiplangat Cheruyot, from the Ogiek People’s Development Program. "This is very serious, the Ogiek have nowhere else to go. People are crying about the eviction. The government said it would spare no one, not even a goat or a chicken."
Adding some context, Survival explains that the Ogiek have repeatedly faced eviction “...since colonial times, usually on the pretext that they are degrading it. But the Ogiek maintain that it is the logging companies, and the more recent illegal settlers, who are causing the damage.”
Incidentally, in the same week the eviction was announced, 49 companies and individuals were granted alottments of the Mau Forest. According to NTVKenya, one of the major benefactors was a company associated with former Kenyan President Daniel Moi.
What you can do
Please consider writing letters to:
Hon. Mwai Kibaki, President, Republic of Kenya, P.O. Box 30050 00100, Nairobi, Kenya, Fax: +254-020-243620, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: http://twitter.com/Mwaikibaki
Right Hon. Raila Odinga, Prime Minister, Republic of Kenya, P.O. Box 30050 00100, Nairobi, Kenya, Email: email@example.com
You may also want to contact:
Hon S. Amos Wako, Attorney General, State Law Office, Harambee Avenue, P.0. Box 40112, Nairobi, Kenya, Tel.: +254-020-227461
Ministry of Justice, Haile Selassie Avenue, P.O. Box 56057, Nairobi, Kenya, Tel.: 254-20-224029, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org