NEWS 2014

28 January 2014

OPDP condemns Demolitions of  Ogiek house

Ogiek Peoples Development Program (OPDP) condemns the recent attacks on Ogiek activist and demolition of a house belonging to  one Mr. Simon Kipkoech Rana an Ogiek community in Ngongongeri village, Njoro District in Nakuru County.

The demolition is a result of a conflict on a private piece of land in the said area between Mr.Simon and a person who came to claim the same piece alleging he had bought it from the owner. This brought tension and the intruder reported Mr.Simon's wife, Emily Chepkurui to the local police after she hit him with a cooking stick.

The local police arrested Mrs. Emily but released her the next day on a cash bond of 10,000 Kenyan shillings.

On 27th after a meeting at the OCPD 's office at Njoro , the said intruder went back to Mr.Simon's homestead and demolished a house.He is also alleged to have been in a possession of a 5 liter petrol which he intended to use to burn down Mr.Simon's Homestead but failed after he was shot with an arrow on his back. it is the same night that the house(pictured below) was demolished by people reported to be from a neighboring Community.

Two Ogiek activists have since been on the run after the local police and those purpoted to be the owners of the lands in the village issued death threats to them. This is not the first time Ogiek activist get threatened or harrased, in March 2011,six people attacked Mr.James Rana an Ogiek activist in his home at around 2:30am with machetes knives and other sorts of  crude weapons inflicting serious cuts and injuries on his hands, head and legs.

The Ogiek community with help from OPDP together with Minority Rights Group(MRG) are pursuing a case at the African court Challenging the Kenyan government for massive and continued violations of their human rights including repeated forceful evictions,right to property access to natural resources among others.This case is currently pending before the court and is due to be heard later this year.


Kenya: Concern over Attacks on Ogiek Activists

By: Minority Rights Group

03 February 2014

The home of Adam Cheruiyot, detroyed during the recent attack

Minority Rights Group International (MRG) condemns the recent attack on a key Ogiek activist Adam Cheruiyot (not his real name) and his family after he resisted eviction from his land. He has also been threatened by local police.

Cheruiyot (not his real name) was involved in a land disagreement with a private individual on 26 January 2014 in Ngongongeri village, Njoro District, Nakuru County. According to the Ogiek People`s Development Programme (OPDP), a local NGO working to secure the rights of the community, a confrontation erupted when the other person tried to evict Cheruiyot with the apparent permission of the local police from land that Cheruiyot claims ancestrally belongs to him.

The Ogiek - with the assistance of MRG and OPDP - are currently pursuing a legal case challenging the systematic denial of their human rights by the Kenyan government. The case alleges violations of the Ogiek`s rights to non-discrimination, property, natural resources, development, religion and culture under the African Charter on Human and Peoples` Rights. This case is currently pending before the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights (‘the African Court’) and is due to be heard later this year. Cheruyot has given affidavit evidence about past harassment to the African Court as part of the Ogiek’s ongoing case and may be called as witness in the upcoming hearing. The African Court has issued an order for the Kenyan government to halt any actions that may prejudice the case.

Targeting minority rights activists in this way is unacceptable. Not only does such behaviour violate the Ogiek`s fundamental human rights, but it is also directly contravenes the provisional measures order issued by the African Court, says Lucy Claridge, MRG`s Head of Law.

This is not the first time there is a deliberate orchestrated move to single out key community activists with threats, intimidation and harassment. In March 2011, six people broke into James Rana`s home around 2:30 am and attacked him with machetes, knives and other tools, causing serious injuries to his head, hands and legs. Within the same period, a group of people attacked and abused Rosaline Kuresoi, 34, a local land and minority women rights activist, on her way home from Njoro market.

Daniel Kobei, the OPDP Executive Director, said he was not shocked that police is now siding with the law breakers. Kobei added, This intimidation and threats are meant to corner us into submission so that we give up on our quest for justice and equity. We shall not engage in violence but will never give up.

In this recent incident, it is alleged that four individuals surveyed the land and started to burn maize stalks growing there. They threatened and harassed Cheruiyot and his wife, destroyed their home and required that they vacate the land.

The confrontation attracted other persons including 50 non-Ogiek who arrived armed with bows and arrows, behaving in a menacing manner. Cheruiyot was supported in his refusal to leave the land by other local Ogiek, including Peter Kiplangat (not his real name).

When Cheruiyot’s sister subsequently reported the threats, intimidation and harassment and trespass on their property to the local police station at Njoro, she was arrested, held overnight and charged with the crime of trespass. Although released the following day, having paid cash bail of KES 10,000 (approx 115 USD), the charges remain pending.

On the morning of 27 January 2014, the local police officer came to investigate the incident. Once the officer had left the area, the private individual returned to Cheruiyot’s land and again tried to take possession. The local Tugen who were present caused a scuffle, during which the other person was shot with an arrow.

Investigating the aftermath of these incidents, the local OCPD police commander in Njoro accused Cheruiyot and Kiplangat of attacking the other person. The police commander also reportedly made threats against Cheruyot’s life, calling for him to be shot, and demanded that Cheruiyot and his family leave their lands.

Many other members of the Ogiek community have reportedly gone into hiding in the forest after the threats from police.

Notes to the Editor

• Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is a non-governmental organisation working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples worldwide

To arrange interviews please contact:
MRG Press Office in Africa - Mohamed Matovu
T: +256 312266832
M: +256 782748189 or +254719506482

Daniel Kobei at OPDP
Executive Director
Ogiek Peoples Development Program
M: +254722433757