BREAKING: Extinction Rebellion Scotland have blocked the entrance to the Kenyan High Commission in London to create a space to amplify the actions of the Sengwer Indigenous People of Kenya.

Kenyan High Commission, London 

Extinction Rebellion Scotland takes action in solidarity with the Sengwer Indigenous People of Kenya, who have experienced horrific human rights abuses at the hands of Kenyan Government Agencies

  • Thousands of homes have been torched by the Kenyan Government as marginalised indigenous community forcibly evicted from their ancestral lands
  • ‘Conservation’ weaponized against the Sengwer as authorities cash in on Global North environmental subsidies while destroying indigenous forests
  • XR Scotland planned this action in consultation with Sengwer Indigenous leaders and Amnesty International Kenya

Images from Kenya: 

Sengwer Centre for Indigenous Rights- SCIR Facebook 

XR Scotland took this action to protest against the severe human rights violations the Sengwer Indigenous People have suffered at the hands of the Kenyan Government and to demand – alongside Defenders Coalition, Amnesty International Kenya, fourteen other human rights organizations and a petition signed by 270,000 people [petition at bottom of release] – that the President of the Republic of Kenya recognize the right of the Sengwer to their ancestral land. 

Outside the High Commission this morning, XR read the Sengwers’ petition out and ask that the Kenya’s High Commissioner, Manoah Esipisu, the official representative of the Kenyan Government in the UK, accept their petition by hand. 

The Kenyan Government and the Kenyan Government Forest Service (KFS) have, since the 80s, engaged in intimidation, harassment, forced evictions, illegal arrests, violence and murder, burning thousands of homes and ripping communities apart [1], claiming it is necessary to ‘conserve’ the Embobut Forest to mitigate climate change. In reality, the Sengwer are the ones who have been protecting their ancestral forests and KFS are renowned for exploiting and destroying the indigenous forests they take control of. 

Ogiek Indigenous leader Peter Kitelo Chongeywo, commented; “For us [the Ogiek forest people of Mt Elgon] climate change has been the excuse for dispossession. The community has not in any way contributed to the destruction of the forests or to climate change, but our communities are being sacrificed for proposed solutions that are not solutions. Climate change is being used as an excuse for the dispossession of forest communities who have protected their lands since time immemorial.”

Conservation experts working with Amnesty International have confirmed that the Sengwer people are best placed to conserve their ancestral home, and according to the 2018 IPCC Report, indigenous knowledge and rights recognition is key to tackling the climate and ecological emergency. [2] The weaponization of climate change against indigenous communities can not continue, as governments and international corporations continue to search for new fossil fuel reserves across the globe. 

“Indigenous people are being wiped out across the globe in the name of globalisation development and its wrong. We’re here to get the Kenyan High Commissioner to agree that it’s wrong.”
Caroline Glassberg-Powell, 29, Software Developer and XR Activist

Extinction Rebellion Scotland acts in solidarity with the Sengwer Indigenous People’s ‘Week of Action’ which began on the 7th October 2019 and saw hundreds march 500km from their home in the Cherenganyi Hills to the Kenyan capital Nairobi to deliver the petition and demand a meeting with the President, who refused. 

“It’s wrong that they are using ecological and climate crisis to justify the displacement of people. I think Extinction Rebellion has a strong focus on unity and community, and that borders should not prevent global justice.”
Joseph Burns, 23, Landscape Gardener and XR Activist 

The Secretary-General for the Sengwer Council of Elders, Yator Kiptum said, “We have remained a marginalized and forgotten community in our own country since colonial days. We have repeatedly been unrecognized, discriminated against and our rights violated. We are here to seek the audience of our president and demand recognition. We are a Kenyan ethnic community and we demand to live in our ancestral land in peace like any other community. We refuse to be branded criminals, encroachers or bandits for exercising our rights. We demand accountability for our kinsman who was killed, and numerous others injured in the repeated attacks by the Kenya Forest Services (KFS) in Embobut forest. We urge the president to take steps to ensure that we leave free from fear of constant state-led harassment, threats, intimidation and torching of our homes.”

Extinction Rebellion focuses its attention on the Kenyan High Commision in London with an international light of solidarity, demanding that the Kenyan High Commissioner Manoah Esipisu publicly denounces the human rights violations committed by the Kenyan Government Forest Service and supports Sengwer Indigenous People’s rights to their ancestral land. 


“Sengwer are an Indigenous and marginalized community who need to preserve their culture and identity.  Articles 7, 11, 44, 59 and 100 (D)(C) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, obligate the state to protect them, their language and intellectual property from assimilation”,  Irũngũ Houghton, Amnesty International Kenya Executive Director said.

“In 2017, The African Court of Justice in a landmark ruling upheld that the Ogiek Indigenous People have the right to Mau Forest as their ancestral land which was traditionally occupied by them as a hunter-gatherer community as enshrined in Article 63 (2) (d) (ii) of the Constitution of Kenya (COK) 2010, African Charter On Human And Peoples Rights, International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). This ruling applies to other Indigenous Peoples (IPs) and the state as the primary duty bearer has the primary obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of the IPs including the Sengwer” said Mr. Kamau Ngugi, Executive Director for Defenders Coalition Kenya.


[1] Families Torn Apart: Forced Evictions of Indigenous People in Embobut Forest in 2018 by Amnesty International and Race against Extinction: The Plight of Sengwer Indigenous Women and HRDs in Embobut Forest by Defenders Coalition Kenya

[2] IPCC Global Warming of 1.5 ºC, Chapter 4 ‘Strengthening and Implementing the Global Response’, Indigenous knowledge



Uhuru Kenyatta
President of Kenya
Harambee House 
PO Box 62345 – 00200 Nairobi
Harambee Avenue, Nairobi, Kenya

Your Excellency,

We the Sengwer Indigenous People are calling on you allow us to return back to our ancestral land to continue our culture of preservation of the Embobut forest.

In particular we ask that:

•    That the Sengwer people’s rights to their ancestral land in Embobut Forest are recognised and protected, in line with the Constitution of Kenya, the 2016 Community Land Act, and the 2016 Forest Conservation and Management Act;
•    A speedy conclusion of the inquest into the killing of Robert Kirotich Kibor in Embobut Forest in January 2018, and ensure that those officers responsible are brought to trial;
•    That the victims of forced evictions, arbitrary imprisonment, violence and other human rights violations in Embobut Forest receive justice and due remedy.  

We also urge you to engage with us and obtain our consent for a new approach to conservation, which recognises our role as owners and custodians of the forest and your partnership in protecting the environment.

Yours sincerely,

The Sengwer Indigenous People