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I am writing to express my concern about the continued
harassment of the Ogiek, an indigenous plant- and
honey-gathering and hunting people that have lived in
Kenya's Mau Forest for hundreds of years.
For decades, the Ogiek have fought with first the British
colonial and then the Kenyan government over their rights to
inhabit their traditional homelands (e.g. in East and South
West Mau Forest, Mount Elgon Forest etc.). They have all
along sought the recognition of this area as their ancestral
After years of dispute, authorities have continuously
refused to recognize this heritage as Ogiek land and instead
ordered the Ogiek to leave the forest, saying that they had
been allocated separate land years ago but had abandoned it.
The Ogiek know that they have a right to live in their
ancestral homeland and that the former government wanted to
give the land to private individuals rather than to conserve
it for the benefit of the Ogiek and the entire nation. On
February 16, 2001, the former government announced through
the official Kenya gazette that some 147,000 acres of Mau
Forest would be excised to settle the landless. This move
effectively would remove approximately 70 percent of Mau
Forest from the legal control of the Forest Act and leaves
the Ogiek land vulnerable to invasion by land speculators
I am particularly concerned about the latest, brutal
evictions in Feb./March 2005, which were only stopped by a
court injunction on 02 March 2005 and the atrocities and
eviction committed against the Ogiek by your armed forces in
June 2005 despite two High Court injuctions. We ask that you
do everything in your power to ensure that the parliamentary
order is refined, spare the Ogiek and that similar
intrusions into their traditional lives as
conservators of the forests never can take place any more
under your governance. The Ogiek are also concerned about
the ongoing illegal logging by outsiders in the Mau Forest
which is destroying their cultural and hunting grounds.
The Ogiek community does not pose an environmental threat to
the forest or the wildlife. The real environmental threat to
the Mau Forest came from the former Kenyan government, which
was allowing logging companies to cut down trees in the Mau
Forest. Still many of Kenya's protected forests have been
illegally sold or given to developers. The former government
imposed a partial logging ban which exempts three big
logging companies: Pan African Paper Mills, Raiply Timber,
and Timsales Ltd. The three firms were exempted because
Raiply and Timsales claim to employ over 30,000 Kenyans,
while Pan African Paper Mills (a 50% Worldbank owned entity)
was exempted because "the government has shares in it
and it was said to be important to the economy."
Thus, while the government allows powerful logging companies
to cut down trees in the forest, it is persecuting an
indigenous people who pose no environmental threat and lack
political power. However, we are pleased that your
government said on July 6, 2001 that it had banned logging
in the forest, and we ask that you ensure that illegal
logging in the Mau Forest stops.
Please do everything in Your Excellency's power to guarantee
that your government will respect the rights of this
minority people by allowing them to retain their natural
habitats and halting the de-gazettement and allocation of
land in Mau Forest to outsiders in perpetuum. Also a suit
the community has filed in the High Court still has not
rendered a final decision, which under wise judges only can
come out pro Ogiek.
In addition, I respectfully ask that you do all that is
necessary to stop the wanton destruction of Mau and Mount
Elgon Forests. Thank you for your time. I look forward to
your response. Please keep me informed.
[your name, affiliation, and country]
in Swahili !
His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta
of the Attorney General
Attorney General's Chambers
Law Reform Commission
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