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Feb-09-2014 13:14printcomments

Before the Last Home is Torched...

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim says he wants to change the Bank. Let’s hold him to his word...

Burning houses in Kenya
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(NAIROBI) - Heavily armed police just burned 1,000 homes to the ground to force indigenous families out of the Kenyan forest where they’ve lived for centuries. This desperate community needs our help to save their homes -- and the forest -- before it’s destroyed forever.

The World Bank has given millions of our tax dollars to the Kenyan forest police who are annihilating this ancient community. And -- with new funding at stake this year -- the Bank has massive leverage over the government. So far the Bank is staying mum, but if enough of us supercharge the community’s call for help, we can force it to demand this horror stops.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim says he wants to change the Bank. Let’s hold him to his word, demanding that he call on the Kenyan government to stop these vicious land grabs and commit to new human rights standards for all future grants. When a million of us sign, we'll grab Kim's attention by showing burning homes outside the Bank’s Washington HQ. Add your name now:

The Sengwer people have lived in the majestic Embobut forest for centuries and their rights to their ancestral lands are protected under the Kenyan constitution and international law. They’ve already won a court order to stop the evictions, but the government has ignored it, claiming they need to clear the forest to protect water sources for nearby towns. The Sengwer fear that next, the forest will be decimated for profit.

The Bank has backed many impressive initiatives, but for too long has blamed the governments and companies it lends to when destructive projects force people off their land. But the tide is turning. After an outcry, the Bank pulled back from projects that were driving 30,000 Cambodians a year from their homes. And it admitted it ignored its own policies when it funded a Honduran palm oil company accused of brutal evictions and assassinations. The Bank is now investigating the Sengwer scandal, but far too slowly to save Kenya’s ancient forest peoples.

The US Congress has just called on the Bank to stop evictions, or risk losing US money. It’s the perfect moment to stop this brutal land grab in Kenya and get the institution to take human rights seriously. Sign now -- when a million of us are on board, we'll deliver our message straight to President Kim:

After the Tanzanian government announced plans to kick thousands of Maasai families off their lands to build a hunting reserve, almost two million Avaaz members stood with their community. We kept pushing for over a year until finally the Prime Minister allowed them to stay, helping end a 20 year land battle. The Maasai say they couldn’t have done it without us -- now let’s do it again, for the Sengwer people.

With hope,  

Allison, Alex, Joseph, Emilie, Alice, Sayeeda, Ricken and the rest of the Avaaz team    

More information:

Kenya: KFS Guards Burn Down Homes in Embobut Forest (The Star)

Kenyan families flee Embobut forest to avoid forced evictions by police (The Guardian)  

Kenya defies its own courts (Forest Peoples Programme)

U.S. pushes for outside oversight of World Bank (Washington Post)

Kenya / Embobut Forest: UN rights expert calls for the protection of indigenous people facing eviction (UN)

Indigenous Kenyans evicted in the name of ‘conservation’ (New Internationalist) 



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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.


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