Dear Colloquium Organizers,
The Government of Kenya and the World Bank have invited us and other traditional forest-dependent communities to sit down with them at the International Colloquium Conference at Eldoret next week.
After decades of suffering from evictions and harassment, we have been eagerly anticipating discussing a positive way forward for the forests and for our communities. One that secures the forests by ensuring traditional forest-dependent communities rights to protect their lands are recognised, and by ensuring that in return our communities agree to conservation conditions that mean we can live in, maintain and restore our forests for our communities and for the nation, with technical support from Government agencies such as KFS and KWS, and from international conservation experts such as IUCN.
However, we are finding it increasingly difficult to see how we can come to the International Colloquium Conference next week, and sit down to discuss a positive way forward, while our homes are being burned and we are being forcefully displaced from our lands.
From 25th February 2015 through yesterday over 20 KFS Guards burnt down over 30 houses and destroyed the property of Sengwer families living in Kamoyokwo within Kapkok / Kamologon Glade.
These continued forceful evictions and displacements are in violation of the temporary conservatory injunctive orders first issued in March 2013 and most recently reinforced by the court ruling delivered only a week ago on 18 February 2015, of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 (Community Land, Mandate of National Land Commission, etc), of UNDRIP and a variety of other international laws to which Kenya is legally committed, and of the letter and spirit of the planned International Colloquium Conference.
In the circumstances, unless the government agrees to halt the unnecessary and unlawful harassment and eviction of Sengwer communities in the Cherangany Hills to give all parties the chance to come to the table and find a lasting solution (and unless that harassment and eviction actually stops on the ground immediately), we and our brothers and sisters from the major forest dwelling communities in Kenya will have to reconsider whether it is worthwhile participating in the Colloquium at all.
If we were compelled to withdraw in this way (which would be extremely regrettable), we would have no choice but to make our reasons clear via high level representations made to the Government of Kenya and World Bank.
If the evictions and disregard of the rule of law continues then there’ll be no point of holding the International Colloquium Conference when our people are being forcefully evicted from their ancestral homes in the glades of Embobut Forest.
STOP EVICTIONS of SENGWER FAMILIES NOW! IF NOT, CANCEL THE INTERNATIONAL COLLOQUIUM CONFERENCE UNTIL WE ARE TREATED AS HUMAN BEINGS
Paul Kibet Elias Kimaiyo