On February 16th and 17th, over 700 Mau Forest Evictees, held a two day demonstration, where they peacefully marched 60 kilometers from their Internally Displaced Camps in Kusumek and Chebugen, to Bomet Town. The demonstration culminated in the submission of a petition to the Bomet County Commissioner. The Petition called for their recognition and compensation as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), evicted by the regime from their land in 2007.
In 2013, presidential incumbent [current President] President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy , William Ruto, campaigned in the region with promises to resettle the IDPs during their first 100 days in office if elected. The regime is yet to resettle them.
Preparations for the demonstration were fraught with challenges including a recent ban of demonstrations in the area, due to previous protests that had turned violent. Previous demonstrations had been met with police brutality, with police officers shooting into a crowd of unarmed demonstrators. With the help of the Kenya National Human Rights Commission, the InformAction team, and the Evictees convinced police officials to accept a formal notification of the planned demonstration, promising that the evictees would be calm and that the demonstration would be peaceful.
Despite prior notification of the demonstration, the reception of Evictees at the County Commissioners office was hostile. Upon arrival, the County Commissioner was dressed in military regalia, and was surrounded by administration police officers. The County Commissioner further issued threats to the InformAction team, accusing them of the illegal use of a video camera during the demonstration.
Despite attempts to discuss the demands of the evictees with him, the County Commissioner dismissed the InformAction team, ordering them to transport the evictees back to their camps.
Committed to their cause, upon hearing the remarks of the County Commissioner, the Evictees threatened to camp outside his offices until he acknowledged their presence, and addressed them. Faced with hostility from the County Commissioner, the InformAction team decided to appeal to the Bomet County Governor, Hon. Isaac Ruto.
Fortunately, the Governer empathized with the evictees, listening to their demands, and donating to 500,000ksh for their transportation back to the camps. The Governer has taken further steps to highlight the plight of the evictees, further giving the regime a 3-month ultimatum within which the evictees must be resettled.