As Commission held 1 day public Hearings in Nakuru dominated by land related issues
Nairobi: Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commissioners visited the Pipeline Internally Displaced People’s camp at Pipeline in Nakuru today, a day before the public hearings in Nakuru begin. Commissioners Prof Ronald Slye, Margaret Shava and Judge Gertrude
Chawatama joined UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights of Displaced Persons, Prof Chaloka Beyani in a familiarization tour of the IDP camp. The team met IDP leaders at the Pipeline IDP camp Community Centre.
The Pipeline Camp for internally displaced persons is located on 16 acres of land , 5 kilometres from Nakuru and is home to over 5,000 people living in Mawingu and Makongeni sections of the camp.
Speaking to the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission, the camp chair Mr. Paul Thiong’o asked the commission to act on statements taken from the IDPs. “We want action on statements taken from IDPS here by the Commission. Let not the TJRC be like other government commissions,” he urged. One of the internally displaced persons living in the Makongeni wing of the camp, Mr. Joseph Kuria wondered during the gathering, “why has the government moved fast to favour Sinai families and victims (of the recent fire in Sinai an informal settlement in Nairobi) yet ignored our plight?”
Camp Vice Chair, Mr. David Njenga assured families living at Pipeline IDP camp that TJRC represents government. He also informed the Commission that the IDPS have been at the camp since November 2008 from various areas of Rift Valley, and that some were victims of election violence as far back as 1992. Responding to the IDPs views, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Prof Beyani told the gathering that the UN had joined hands with the TJRC to push for the resolution of the IDP issue before the next polls in 2012.
Commissioner Margaret Shava, assured the IDPs that TJRC was working with UN, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and other partners to ensure implementation of the Commission’s final report and recommendations. ” We are not a commission that just sits in Nairobi; we are a grassroots commission and we have just arrived from holding hearings in Kericho,” Ms. Shava stated.
The Public hearings in Nakuru were held on Friday 23rd September 2011 at the New Nakuru Town Hall. Also in attendance were Prof. Chaloka Beyani from UN and Commissioner Tororei from the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. Mr. Harun Chemjor Chepkeitany presented a memorandum on behalf of Korinytich farmers. “In 1963 the Kenyatta Government took all farmland and forgot its people, we were left in arid and semi arid lands. The owners of the farm are now the (former President) Moi family who by 2006 destroyed our property and evicted us,” he said.
Mr. Chepkeitany further testified how in 1973 the then Rift Valley Provincial Commissioner Mr. Isaiah Mathenge evicted people from the farm. He said Special Programmes Minister Ms.Esther Murungi, Internal Security Permanent Secretary Mr. Francis Kimemia and MP Mr. John Mututho had denied farmers access to their farms by making calls to the local DC to kick out surveyors from the farms when they attempt to divide the Elmolo land.
”The land we now have is small and is occupied by 155 families, some move from place to place just like Maasais,” said Mr. Chepkeitany who further claimed that former Minister Mr. G.G. Kariuki and MP Mr. Koigi Wamwere owned part of the disputed land that measures 518 Acres, bought by the farmers group.
Mr. Joseph Towet, chair of the Ogiek Welfare group presented a memorandum on the Mau forest, environment, deforestation and clashes. “We want the issues of the Ogiek to be addressed. Those who got land within the forest have continuously cut trees and degraded the forest which is our main source of water,” he told the TJRC hearing.
The Vice Chair of the Pipeline IDP Camp Mr. David Njenga presented a memorandum on behalf of the IDPs and traced the IDP problem to periods between 1918 and 1980’s when peasant Kikuyu families were brought in by the British government to plant exotic trees in the Mau region which gave birth to the system in which farmers were allowed to farm in the forest for a period of time.
“On May 25th 1988, the families were given a week’s notice to leave and later evicted from their farms by the then Nakuru District Commissioner Mr. Jonah Anguka,” said Mr. Njenga. He said after independence, then President Jomo Kenyatta told landless Kenyans that they were not to get anything for free hence many joined cooperative societies, contributed money and bought several farms which they lost in the 1992 land clashes. Mr. Njenga called for resettlement of the IDPs, compensation for lives and property lost and free medical and healthcare for a year until resettlement.
He further called for iron sheet donations to IDPs by Chinese government be passed onto them to enhance their housing. Mr. Njenga denied claims that IDPs carry out business in the camps. “Those who accuse us of carrying out business in the camps have no idea of what they are saying. Even if paid, none of us would like to be in the camps for a day longer than is necessary,” he stated.
Ms. Jane Wairimu from Keringet IDPs told the Commission how women and girls were affected by the deplorable conditions in the camps. “ Our girls have turned to prostitution to fend for themselves. The situation is not made easier by us parents asking them to seek alternative accommodation, given our small tents,” Ms. Wairimu told the hearing. Commissioner Prof. Tom Ojienda informed the gathering that issues raised by Dr. David Kinyanjui of Kenya network of victims of ethnic clashes be redacted for thematic hearings on IDPs later.
The women’s forum was held at ACK Cathedral, Nakuru on Saturday 24th September 2011 in which issues of sexual violence, inheritance and IDPs emerged. Ms. Selina Jepkosgei told the gathering how her husband was ruthlessly killed in 2008 and how her children watched as their neighbours’ children were killed. “My husband was killed in 2008 during clashes in Nakuru, his ears were chopped off and he was forced to eat them; the same was done to his hands. I forgive those who killed my husband because God said we forgive each other,” she said as she added,” even my neighbour was burnt to ashes and his children were cut in to pieces while my children watched in horror,” Ms. Jepkosgei told the hushed forum.
The Commission holds Public hearings next in Naivasha at ACK Training Hall on 26th and 27th September 2011.
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