Kenya: Indigenous Endorois community's long pursuit for justice after eviction to pave way for a game reserve

Author: Martin Mavenjina, (Kenya Human Rights Commission), in African Arguments (UK), Published on: 18 December 2017

"Could Global South solidarity finally ensure justice for Kenya’s Endorois?"

Four long decades since being illegally evicted from his ancestral homeland, Arap Yegon is still awaiting justice. A member of the Endorois community, the elder remembers being forcefully removed from the shores of Lake Bogoria and surrounding areas of Kenya’s expansive Rift Valley in the 1970s. Yegon’s family had lived there for generation upon generation, but the government wanted to create a game reserve for tourism. “I felt very bitter when I learnt that a place I had called home throughout my life was now no longer my home,” he says. Along with the Endorois community, he protested the move, but was then dealt a second blow. “I resisted the County Council’s decision to forcefully evict us, but was unlawfully arrested and held in custody for 18 days.”...

The uprooted Endorois mobilised, but were consistently knocked back until 2010. In a landmark ruling, the African Commission Human and Peoples Rights declared that the community’s eviction was illegal. It was as moment of triumph and optimism after a gruelling fight. Yet years later, Yegon is waiting once again. “I was happy that after a long struggle,” he says. “However, I now regret, because despite having lost our land and livelihoods, we have not been compensated.”...

Seven years later, however, and the Kenyan government has failed to implement the court’s decisions. This is partly what has encouraged the Endorois community to join forces with a number of organisations in Kenya, the Global South and beyond...Together, they are advocating for the implementation of the African Commission’s ruling and putting pressure on the government...Moreover, the Endorois are now working closely with the Colombian human rights group Dejusticia, which has dealt with similar cases thousands of miles away. Bringing knowledge of past cases in South America to bear, this collaboration has helped the Endorois document their...losses. The resultant report is a critical component in their negotiation with the government.


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