The El Molo, Rendille, Samburu, Turkana and other indigenous and pastoralist communities of Laisamis Constituency and Karare Ward, in Marsabit County, Northern Kenya, reject the illegal privatization of 150,000 acres of our ancestral land by the European consortium “Lake Turkana Wind Power Ltd.” (LTWP).
Our communities have lived in harmony in this region since time immemorial. As responsible stewards of our land, we have cooperated to preserve its fragile and extremely valuable biological diversity and ecological wealth. This land is sacred to us; it serves us as a prime dry-season grazing reserve for our livestock. We conduct rite of passage ceremonies and the confirmation of our warriors in the site that LTWP claims to be its private property. We pledge to continue defending our cultures, our land and our common heritage from intruders and invaders. We owe it to our ancestors and to our future generations.
LTWP has illegally obtained two titles, IR Number 6395⁄1 (L.R. 28031) and IR Number 6396⁄1 (L.R. 28031⁄2), without our knowledge or consent. These titles render us squatters in our own land. We reject the titles and the unprocedural, corrupt and non-transparent process through which they were obtained. We stand united behind the lawsuit filed in October 2014 in Meru High Court, Kenya, to cancel the titles and return our land to its original status as community land.
Using our land as collateral, LTWP has obtained billions of shillings for the construction of the wind farm from foreign banks and multilateral lenders such as the African Development Bank and the European Investment Bank. LTWP intends to extract larger amounts of money from our land and wind, on the basis of our destitution, in exchange for token benefits and a few poorly paid jobs.
LTWP documents acknowledge the massive harmful impacts upon our communities that will result from the aggressive and careless way in which they intend to build the wind farm, without any respect for our culture and livelihoods. LTWP never disclosed these impacts, or the illegal registration of our land in their name, in the hollow self-promotion meetings that they present as “community consultations”.
The company is pursuing a hostile and irresponsible divide-and-rule policy, fabricating an intricate web of lies intended to provoke conflict and violence between our tribes. They thus probably expect to cover up the theft of our common heritage. This reminds us of past oppressive strategies and socio-economic injustices that we suffered in our colonial history.
We are not against establishing a wind power project. We know the power of the wind in our ancestral lands, and we want it to contribute to the sustainable development of our communities, the Marsabit County and Kenya as a whole. We are determined to make this happen on the basis of our communities’ ownership and leadership. We won’t allow the theft of our land under any circumstance.
Sustainability cannot be built upon neo-colonialism. For this reason:
We urge LTWP’s investors and lenders to acknowledge and respect the communal land ownership of the project site, and to support our legal and organizational efforts for the revocation of the illegal land titles obtained by the consortium. We invite consortium partners to take legal action against the Dutch company KP&P Africa BV for misleading you into a project of colonial nature, with no legal basis.
We urge LTWP consortium members to stop the pressure that some representatives, in particular Carlo Van Wageningen (and others who present themselves in LTWP’s webpage as Owners and Founding Fathers), are exercising on the Kenyan government to secure access to the project site. This pressure could result in violence and human rights violations against our communities, and in an escalation of the conflict. LTWP consortium members have to take a strong public stand against the use of violence by the Kenyan security agencies in relation to the project, and have to instruct their representatives in Kenya to stop instigating such violence.
We request support from Kenyan civil society for our demands for transparency on the processes that led to the privatization of our land, and to the award of a Power Purchase Agreement and Letter of Comfort from the Kenyan Government. Our representatives have requested this information through official channels, but it has been denied to them. We need this information to determine whether due processes have been followed, and if this was not the case, undertake legal action against those involved in irregular or corrupt practices.
We request support from international civil society organizations, especially in countries where governmental entities have invested taxpayers’ money in the project (as is the case in Denmark, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, the USA and Germany) or where substantial private investments and loans have been granted to LTWP (such as the UK, the Netherlands and South Africa). Together with you, we want to demand accountability for the violation of domestic and international laws, treaties and safeguards for the protection of our rights as indigenous peoples and owners of the land. We urge you to support our demands of accountability at multilateral and bilateral institutions such as the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the East African Development Bank, the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank, Norfund, Finnfund, OPIC, EKF, etc. We also need your solidarity to avoid violence against our communities.
We invite domestic and international media to research and expose this case as an example of green power colonialism, and to support us in creating the conditions in which communities can lead the development of renewable energy, rather than being dispossessed of their land and heritage.
Sarima Indigenous Peoples’ Land Forum, 7th February 2015