Samburu people 'under attack' over land rights

Posted: 20 November 2009

In a special alert from Kenya, Cultural Survival says the government there has been carrying out "massive and well-organized attacks on Samburu villages by combined police and military forces and the use of government-funded mercenaries from Somalia." The aim, it seems, is to support oil leases recently awarded to Chinese companies to drill on Samburu land in violation of their rights.

The non-government agency which campaigns for indigeous people everywhere says Kenya has had a deplorable record of violating the rights of its indigenous citizens, both during colonization and after.

Samburu women
Samburu women
Samburu women in Lerata weep as their village is attacked by Kenyan military and police forces.
It says that since February this year the Kenyan government has used helicopters, bombs, apparent chemical weapons, and ground forces on unarmed villagers, confiscating their rcattle - the only food source - and prompting a famine that has killed hundreds more people.

"The mercenaries hired by the government have kidnapped and murdered children, beheaded sleeping adults, and seized even more cattle. Hundreds of Samburu women who live near police encampments have been raped. This ongoing violence and intimidation appears to be motivated by government oil leases recently awarded to Chinese companies to drill on Samburu land in violation of their rights." Cultural Survival says environmental concerns compound this humanitarian disaster. The Samburu pastoralists manage several wildlife conservancies in collaboration with environmental organizations, combining conservation with small-scale eco-tourism.

"Government forces brutally shut down these conservancies in February and confiscated all their anti-poaching equipment. Since then, over 50 elephants have been killed in the region, and the Samburu have been powerless to stop the poaching." Chinese companies that are building a road through Samburu territory may be associated with the poaching, it says.

The Commonwealth nations, including Kenya, will meet in Trinidad-Tobago on November 27-29. The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth has invited citizens to send him their comments and concerns in advance of the meeting. Emails should be sent to Mr. Kamalesh SharmaCommonwealth Secretary-General at: and .

The read more background information on the situation click here