For the past 8 months, the Kenyan government has carried out a brutal campaign of violence against the Indigenous Samburu People in north-central Kenya.
The most infamous attack took place in February 2009, when the Kenyan police reportedly sprayed a caustic chemical onto group of children, severely burning them. The children were hiding in the bush at the time, while the police “strafed the unarmed villagers with machine guns” from the air and “used clubs to beat them on the ground.” Following the cruel and unwarranted attack, the police confiscated 4,000 head of cattle–robbing the Samburu of their main source of food and wealth.
In the weeks leading up to this attack, “Government forces brutally shut down” several wildlife conservancies the Samburu pastoralists managed in collaboration with environmental organizations, explains Cultural Survival, who just received “reports of further air and land attacks on the Samburu by hundreds of Kenyan police troops during the week of November 16.”
Though unconfirmed, there have been reports that a Kenyan military officer has leaked documents suggesting this ongoing campaign is aimed at forcing the Samburu to abandon their way life.
The documents are said to explicitly mention the intent to “bring these people into the modern era” and show that the attacks, including the one just described, were planned months in advance.
PHOTO CREDIT: lionresearch
What You Can Do
To support the Samburu people, please send letters to government officials in Kenya, asking them to:
- Immediately withdraw the police forces from northern Kenya and initiate a community-based process of disarmament under the direction of community elders, chiefs, district peace committees and human rights groups.
- Work with the communities to develop a process to curtail cattle raiding and resolve disputes about cattle ownership among pastoralist tribes.
- Investigate and prosecute the police responsible for the human rights violations against the Samburu people, and bring an end to police impunity.
- Recognize and respect the Indigenous rights of the Samburu, as well as the Borana, Rendille,Turkana, Somali, Meru and Pokot Peoples; particularly their rights to self-determination and to participace in matters of development and land use in their territories.
A list of contacts and a sample letter can be found at http://www.culturalsurvival.org/take-action/kenya/stop-police-brutality-against-samburu-people