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Apr 4, 2010
Focus: Human Rights
Action Request: Petition
Location: Kenya
The Samburu people are calling for international help.
For over a year Kenyan Police have been responsible for brutal assaults on the Samburu people of northern Kenya. These assaults, which include killing, raping, beating, and wholesale robbery, take place in an atmosphere of racial prejudice and discrimination against pastoralist tribes that resist assimilation and westernization in order to maintain their unique cultures. Kenyan police forces operate with impunity throughout the country, but in northern Kenya their brutality targets a specific ethnic community in violation of their rights as Indigenous Peoples. The Samburu are one of Kenya’s seven main pastoralist tribes. For centuries, the pastoralists have depended on their herds of cattle to survive in the harsh semi-arid environment of Kenya’s northern plains. Their cows and goats provide their main foods: milk, blood, and meat, supplemented in recent years by commercial maize flour and rice. Samburu homes, called bomas, are rounded oval-shaped huts made of sticks, mud, and cowhides. Families group their bomas and cattle enclosures together within circles of thorn bush branches to keep out the wild animals. Unfortunately, they have not been able to keep out the police.  Since February 2009, Kenyan police forces have assaulted at least 10 different Samburu villages, ranging in size from 150 to 1,500 people. In each case, hundreds of armed police conducted well-coordinated, military-style attacks.  They have killed, raped, beaten, and robbed Samburu villagers completely at random and set homes on fire. In one attack, they seized all of a community’s cattle—4,000 head—leaving the community with no source of food during a devastating drought.
POLICE ATTACK VILLAGES
Before dawn on November 21, 2009, police helicopters and ground forces approached the sleeping village of Loruko. Ground forces fired guns and mortars into the village, killing a woman as she nursed her infant. Four villagers were hospitalized with serious gunshot wounds. Police forced hundreds of women, men, and children into an open area outside the village, where they kicked and beat them while other police looted their homes.  
In Lerata, on January 10, 2010, some 200 police arrived in trucks and Land Cruisers and started beating women and young boys who were outside tending goats. The police then forced their way into the village where they stole the people’s cash, cell phones, watches, and school supplies. They emptied gourds of milk on the ground and mixed sand into the flour so people had no food at all. They attacked nine young warriors and two junior elders, beating five of them unconscious. Afterwards, fearing another attack, some villagers took their children to hide in the bush every night, saying, “We would rather take our chances with the wild animals than face the police again.”  Two days later, police conducted a similar attack on the village of Kiltamany, where they stole everything of value, beat elders, and raped three terrified women who now fear infection with HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases.
WHY THE RAIDS?  
The causes are complex, but they involve politics, guns, and global warming. Climate change is causing more frequent and more devastating droughts in northern Kenya, and pastoralists are fighting over scant water resources and pasture for their cattle. Civil wars in surrounding countries have led to weapons being introduced into the region, and the pastoralists’ traditional back-and-forth cattle raiding has become deadly. The police, who should be curbing this violence, are instead adding to it by committing crimes themselves while Politicians manipulate the volatile situation for their own political advantage.  
The Samburu people and the other pastoralist tribes have confidence that their community elders, chiefs, and peace committees can carry out a successful disarmament process and resolve disputes over cattle ownership, if the police will stay out of the way. To achieve peace and security, the Kenyan government must uphold the human rights of the pastoralists tribes and work with them to develop solutions that honor their traditional cultures, support their pastoralist economies, and prepare them to meet the challenges of a changing climate.
By signing this petition you will be helping to apply pressure on the Kenyan government to withdraw police forces from the North, support the pastoralist communities’ traditional means of resolving problems, and provide the assistance that Samburu and other tribes seek to assure their physical and cultural survival in a time of rapid environmental and social change.

'We are old elders and we have never seen anything like this before. It feels like our life is coming to an end. This is government discrimination against a minority tribe. Our own government is punishing us. That is why we are calling out for international help.'  – Samburu elder in Lerata, Kenya

Lend your support to the Samburu and act NOW. Please sign the petition at: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/7/stop-the-brutality-against-the-Samburu-of-Kenya
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Posted: Apr 4, 2010 2:20am

 

 
 
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Veronica M.
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Cooranbong, Nsw, Australia
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