The violence in Kenya’s Rift Valley is now targeting the Ogiek people, who are indigenous hunter-gatherers in the Mau Forest. Reports say homes are being burned and many people have been wounded.
Survival International says the Ogiek have been fighting for many years against eviction and for protection from loggers, settlers and tea plantations.
Kiplangat Cheruyot is a leader of the Ogiek. From the Mau Forest, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the situation there.
“I’m in the Mau Forest and the situation currently is that there is tension. The police are everywhere and there are some houses, which are burning of the Ogiek people,” he says. He says that 15 people have been injured so far.
Asked who is burning Ogiek homes, Cheruyot says, “Kikuyu are burning our houses…and…the police are just watching and are not taking any action. Most of his people have fled deeper in the Mau Forrest.
“Close to 600 people for the last…week…have fled inside part of the forest. And now they are seeking refuge in the caves…and are still hiding there and they could not come out of there. They have left their houses and their things. (The) majority of their houses are being burned and those who were injured were transferred to…district hospital, where they’re getting some treatment,” he says.
Cheruyot says he knows why the houses are being burned. “They say the Ogiek voted for the ODM (opposition party) and Raila Odinga.” He says the Ogiek pledged their support to Odinga because he promised them he would fight for the rights of indigenous people.
“We the Ogiek as a minority community, we don’t believe in war at all. We haven’t engaged anybody in war.” He says up until the political violence broke out last December, the Ogiek and Kikuyu got along very well and some even married.