Fresh Atrocities Against the Ogiek Turned into Ethnic Cleansing

Burned Ogiek homestead torched by Kipsigis invaders with the help of KFS. Joseph Kilimo Chebet, father of five, inspects the remains of his homestead in Kenya. He says it was burned down by Kenya Forest Service (KFS) officers. Photograph: Tony Karumba / GroundTruth/ICIJ

By Joseph Towett (*) - 17. September 2018

Under a new governmental directive the Mau forest in Kenya is combed by joined armed units of the present government to evict invaders. The forest destruction is rampant and the invaders are many. But it is now established fact that the excercise is also used to continue the genocide against the Indigenous Ogiek, who have the right to stay in their ancestral homeland under international and national law and whose rights have been reconfirmed by a landmark court ruling handed by the Africa Union against the Kenyan Government.

Recent Events

For the past couple of days (13. and 14. September 2018) ugly events and horrific scenes have been witnessed in the locations of the wards Nessuit, Mariashoni and Mauche - areas mostly inhabited by member of Ogiek community.

The clashes are between Ogiek and Kalenjin youths, mainly hailing from the Kipsigis, who believe they are "protected from above". It took the form of cattle rustling, torching houses and to something akin to ethnic cleansing.

Hundreds of youths were terrified to Eastern Mau from Bomet Sub County and were made to high light at Bararget area, where they trekked using Bararget, Mariashoni road and disappeared near Kap Sinendet trading center, where it is believed were accommodated to the locals.

As a result, Ogiek houses were torched, rendering hundreds of Ogiek homeless.

It is estimated that 179 Ogiek houses were torched in a span of two days, where police were completely partisan. There were Ogiek youths who were hurt seriously with arrows, and so were the youth from the Kalenjin side.

As a pointer to things to come, the Ogiek leadership noted that, the government has been hostile towards the Ogiek community since the two court’s decision (2014 and 2017) that were entered in favor of the Ogiek Community.

Actions vis-a-vis court decisions 

For instance the ELC 821/2012 decided on the 17/03/2014, had specific orders made in respect to the National Land Commission. The time line was and remains implementation within one year of the delivery of the judgment. It is now four and half years since the delivery of that judgment in Arusha court decision No. 006/2012, decided on the 26/05/2017, the court ordered the government to come up with a program of action within six months. It’s now sixteen months since that land mark decision. That task force is yet to come up with a report, and it is not known exactly when that will be.

Then there is the much presented by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, assisted by the ministry of interior and coordination of National government, who are said to have a National project of restoring Mau forest complex. Ironically the ogiek are neither involved nor consulted. The national land commission has only five months before their term comes to an end on the 28th February, 2018.

To them the court’s decision is not realistic in other words they those in positions of authority firmly believe were fraudulently obtained. The reality being all settlers in Mau, the Ogiek included, are neither honest nor sincere both in demands and deeds.

This approach is very dangerous as courts decisions are not negotiable, nor can they be discarded or over looked. There is too much impunity on the part of law enforcement. This if not cheeked will see genocide melted on the supposed beneficiaries of the courts decisions/ awards. The Ogiek leaders are of the opinion, that the court need to be fully informed of the happenings and the dangers it posses to the indigenous minority Ogiek Community and particularly the rule of law.

In the ELC821/2012, the Ogiek have gone back to court to seek its enforcement. The community wants the court to supervise the implementation of its own decision in the Arusha application, the same approach need be adopted, for it’s the only way to fight impunity and ensure justice is served to the intended beneficiaries.

Similarity

In the year 2016 March before the 71 Ogiek were evicted from the 2600 acres of Kongongeri, mapping strategy was done by those who later flushed the Ogiek families before torching and demolishing their houses, the 2018, September incidence took the same pattern. The Ogiek houses and locations seems to have been mapped in advance, how else does  one explain the efficiency in which the Ogiek houses were torched with ease leading to serious loose of property.

The leaders also propose more community consultative meetings aimed at internalizing court decisions and strategizing. There shall be consultative meetings at the national level targeting key figures and players in both the rule of law and justice delivery. There shall also be policy briefs. The list of those who have so far been affected by the three days skirmishes is here attached and served.

Conclusion

The Ogiek are being victimized each an everyday and can only survive if the courts decisions are fully enforced and respected. Theirs has been and will always remain the quest for survival, well being and identity safeguard.

The Ogiek needs their true friends now more than ever.

 

OGIEK AFFECTED

TIRITAGOI, VILLAGES

NESSUIT LOCATION

  1. Robert W. Ritagitai
  2. Leah Chemolei
  3. Lydia Wilson
  4. David Mutarakwa
  5. Robert Gitagita
  6. Susan Meleigini
  7. Denis Konini
  8. Tera Benson
  9. Benson Seriseri
  10. David Seriseri
  11. Maria Benson
  12. Denis Somita
  13. Nelson Nalungute
  14. Nelson Ngetich
  15. Simon DidiiManguai
  16. John Kisongoi
  17. Baba kisongoi
  18. Duncan K. Mbosit
  19. Bernard N. Ngonino
  20. Peter Chilo
  21. Susan Lembere
  22. Ruina C. Samwel
  23. Irine W. Ibrahim
  24. James N. Taki
  25. Benard Olouju
  26. Sadiki Kirutare
  27. Willy sarubabi
  28. Orop Bernard
  29. Emily Koita
  30. Kilelu L. Salim
  31. Simon R. Eseu
  32. John Kisiambe
  33. Sairowa Kamunye
  34. Samwel Sairowa
  35. Denis Kipkoech
  36. Masek Francis
  37. Cheruto Francis
  38. Edwin Somita
  39. Susan Oloiju
  40. Emily C. Ringaso

 

SIGAON VILLAGES

  1. Justus Goniash Punyati
  2. John Lengoisa
  3. Kiriba Kenerwa
  4. Simon Tilemwa
  5. Simon Lengupe
  6. Tondo Kiripa
  7. Kipsang Tilemwa

 

MSEGEKWA, MEISIPEI VILLAGES

NESSUIT LOCATION

  1. Dalmas Lemunde
  2. Phillemon Kipsang
  3. Agnes Chilili
  4. Boniface Gechucho
  5. Stephen Saimutei
  6. Victor Leshau
  7. Miangari Tiwas
  8. Dominic Mosonik
  9. Christopher Naitutai
  10. Mary Zakayo
  11. Ronaz Langat
  12. Michael Mutarakwa
  13. Flora Lengoita
  14. Grace Kiprotich
  15. Albert K Langat
  16. Joseph K Kiprotich
  17. Alex K Langas
  18. Filax K. Langas
  19. Patrick Kipkoech Rotich
  20. Dominic Mosonik
  21. Alice Cherono Rotich
  22. Nicodemuc Rotich
  23. Kinanagre Chenene Kongena

 

KAPROP VILLAGE

MARIASHONI LOCATION

  1. Duncan Leitei Rotich
  2. Richard Kiplangat Kebenei
  3. Josphat TowettLesere
  4. Daniel Kibet Chesot
  5. Julius KiptooChesot
  6. Romas Lesere Chesot
  7. Wilson Kiplangat Laikipia
  8. Solomon Rotich Kones
  9. Samuel Kiplangat
  10. Patrick Kemoi
  11. Patrick Kipkurui Langat
  12. Phillemon Kones Tanki
  13. Simon Kipkoech kirui
  14. Paul Kipkoros Chepkwony
  15. Philip Kiptoo Lusiro
  16. Dominic Rotich Barngetuny
  17. Reuben Kirasi Kisongo
  18. Wesley Kibet Chirchir
  19. Bernard KiprotichChirchir
  20. Frankline Kiprop Mutai
  21. David BarsoloiSaitoti
  22. Daniel Barkurie Prengei
  23. Joseph Kibet Kisongo
  24. Nelson Rotich Sailenyi
  25. Jonathan Ruto
  26. Cosmas Serbebi
  27. Jackson Kibet Tangus
  28. James Kipsigei Warionga
  29. Samwel Chumo
  30. Kipsigei Cosmas Sigei
  31. Alice Chepkoros Rotich
  32. Leonard Kiplangat

 

SIGOTIK VILLAGES

NESSUIT LOCATION/WARD

  1. Joseph M Miringa
  2. Jackson Miringa
  3. Fraciliado Mailoji
  4. Simon Nono
  5. Daniel Guyo Tolu
  6. Jontahan Oloiju
  7. Nixon Kirengere Oloiju
  8. Nancy Chebet Oloiju
  9. Kipkorir Lebora
  10. ChepkoL Kipkol Chemabit
  11. Richard Metundu
  12. Solomon Oloiju Kiboi
  13. Gilbert Kipkoech Oloiju
  14. Festus KipkorirOloiju
  15. Simon Kiptiria Kibitwa
  16. Nicholus Elijah Kiboi
  17. Wilberforce Kibet Sewe
  18. Lekina Chochonge
  19. Samwel Kipkorir Kiptiony
  20. Tichat Salim
  21. John KimaiywaMetundu
  22. Jilax Maritim Metundu
  23. Hellen Kimaiywa Zablon
  24. Zablon Peter Poyot
  25. Style Kitambo Mailoji
  26. Naoroi Pilini
  27. John Kibet Kiboi
  28. Moses Ngenerwa Isato
  29. Virginia Poset Zablon

 

SURURU VILLAGES

MAUCHE WARD

  1. John Letende Munyoro
  2. James Kiplangat Mutarakwa
  3. Joseph Buruburu
  4. Simon Kakaa Katuruku
  5. Hellen Kalenjoy
  6. James Kipkoech Buruburu
  7. Mike BuruburuNdonyo
  8. Nangunguta Ndonyo
  9. Eunice ChepesaLeina
  10. James Kipkoech Letende
  11. Kamakai Ole Nchoe
  12. Kiramba Kingori
  13. Elijah Kuruti
  14. Wison Kiriambu
  15. Paul kiriambu
  16. Zakayo Kiriambu
  17. Zipora Wewe Kiriambu
  18. Virginia Chelengat Dingori

 

KAP GARANG TRADING CENTRE/VILLAGE

MARIASHONI WARD/ NDOSWA LOCATION

  1. Cosmas Saibala
  2. Betreace Rotich
  3. Cosmas MutaiKoskei
  4. Nickson Kibet
  5. Julius Cheruiyot Langat
  6. Stanley Willa
  7. Mary Chepkurui Nemunge
  8. David Kipkorir Nemunge
  9. Samwel Sialoi
  10. Susana Kibilo
  11. Jonathan Kiprono
  12. Margaret Nemunge
  13. Raphael Nemunge
  14. Rose Chelangat Saitoti
  15. Alex Ngurule
  16. Saingami James Sitiemei
  17. Danson Kabirio Sitiemei
  18. Duncan Nemunge

Confirmed and SIGNED

Joseph K. Towett

National Chairperson – Ogiek Council of Elders   Date 17. September 2018

 

(*) Joseph Towett is the National Chair of the OGIEK COUNCIL OF ELDERS

 

IPRO notes:

The Indigenous Peoples' Rights Observatory (IPRO) remarks:

Most readers might not understand really what is going on. The operation is actually targeting ILLEGAL INVADERS AND SETTLERS and those with fake or fraudulently obtained title deeds.

What needs to be understood is that the battle for the Mau Forest on the Mau Escarpment in Kenya has been going on since the colonial times. The British colonialists called the Ogiek "Ndorobo" - as they had learned from their Maasai guides (the Maa language term means "poor people without cattle"). 

Important to note is:

a) The area is the unalienable homeland of the Ogiek people (see: www.ogiek.org) one of the five aboriginal peoples of what is today called Kenya.

b) The colonial (British Crown) governance grabbed all the forests in the country illegally from its original owners.
c) The subsequent Kenya government never has revised these illegal forest grabs and turned the areas into government forests.

d) The Ogiek people have obtained a victory handed down by the African Union Court restraining the Kenya Government from evicting any Ogiek from their homeland. So far the Kenya Government has not yet followed or implemented that standing ruling. 

e) Outsiders, invaders and illegal settlers from other ethnicities - often with strong political clouds continue trying to grab forest land (often on behalf of rich land speculators who finance such invasions) in the Mau and destroy the forest by making farms.

f) Key issue is the goal by extremely powerful corporate and governmental conglomerates to grab the Mau to secure the water-rights. These forces are often overlooked in the debate but they are the ultimate drivers of any operation to curb Indigenous peoples' rights to the natural resources of the Mau (Water, Forest).

g) The EU did not learn from the mistakes of the earlier World Bank project targeting the Mau Forest and the Mount Elgon Forest (where traditional Sengwer and Ogiek live in close proximity) but, since a Sengwer man was even killed in 2018 by the paramilitary Kenya Forest Service in Mount Elgon, the EU suspended its Kenya water project.

h) It is clear that the Ogiek have the rights to the Mau Forest as well as the water at the springs and their people must not be targeted by evictions, but in heinous ways such evictions also often also target Ogiek families as a way of retaliation and outright genocide.

i) On the side it is also interesting to note that it was the late Maasai leader William ole Ntimama who struck out the name SOUTHERN MAU from the forest map at the Forest Department Office in Narok and wrote with a thick blue pen "MAASAI MAU" - and by doing so tried to earmark that area for his Maasai people, who never lived in that forest. Government and media followed swiftly to adopt that fake name.

j) In summary: The Mau Forest is the unalienable homeland of the aboriginal Ogiek people. Invaders from the outside, be it post-colonial government, Maasai, Kipsigis (a Kalenjin sub-group, who in the moment have the Vice-President of Kenya as their backer) or others have no real rights.

To contact IPRO write to

- Read More: Ogiek

and visit The Ogiek People