Cultural Survival is appealing to Kenyan government authorities to halt police operations in Northern Kenya, where Indigenous Samburu villages have suffered brutal police attacks over the last year.
In January, a Cultural Survival delegation to Samburu East and Isiolo districts conducted in-depth interviews with victims and witnesses of police attacks in five Samburu villages between February 2009 and January 2010. We found that hundreds of Samburu women, children, elders and men suffered extra-judicial killings, rape, beatings, theft, arson and intimidation at the hands of police forces.
The most recent police attack occurred just five days before our arrival in the Samburu region during a government-proclaimed period of “amnesty.” During this period, the Samburu and other pastoralist tribes were to voluntarily turn in all firearms. Instead of encouraging an orderly voluntary disarmament process, the police brutally attacked two Samburu villages, raped eight women, burned a house to the ground, and beat women, children and men with sticks, rendering at least two unconscious. Police also stole cash, cell phones and anything else of value that they found in the Samburu homes, further impoverishing people who are already suffering famine from the drought. Many women and children fled their homes and slept in the bush, risking attacks by wild animals, because they feared for their lives in their own homes.
If the police commit these crimes against the Samburu people during the ”amnesty” period, what must the people expect when the deadline for voluntary disarmament comes on February 20? Already the people are living in constant fear, anxiety, humiliation, and anger.
Our research team found that the Samburu and their competing pastoralist tribes are all in favor of universal disarmament. But no one believes the police, guilty of so many crimes and human rights violations, can conduct impartial, orderly, and effective disarmament by force. Cultural Survival joins the Samburu in demanding the withdrawal of police forces from the region and the creation of a community-based process of disarmament conducted by community elders in collaboration with existing peace committees and NGOs.
See Cultural Survival’s letter to Kenyan officials here.