Petition by the American Banyamulenge and supporters from around the World asking President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya to immediately stop cracking down innocent Banyamulenge Refugees in Nairobi- Kenya.
-Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta
-US Department of State
-UN General Secretary
-UNHCR in Nairobi- Kenya
-US Embassy in Nairobi- Kenya
-Human Rights Watch
-United States Congress
We, the undersigned, are calling on the Government of Kenya to immediately halt targeting and arresting innocent Banyamulenge refugees from Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo who are residing in Nairobi, Kenya, and to return those Banyamulenge to Nairobi who were forcibly relocated to Dadaab refugee camp against their will.
The Banyamulenge are a persecuted Tutsi tribe from the Congo. Tens of thousands have fled persecution, attacks, and pogroms in their native country since 1996 and in subsequent years and sought refuge in neighboring countries. They are legally recognized by the UNHCR and the Kenyan Government as refugees in Kenya and have no link to terrorism whatsoever. They do not have any criminal record and they pose no threat to Kenya. Indeed they have lived harmoniously alongside Kenyan nationals for many years and stand in solidarity with Kenyans to combat terrorism.
On Sunday May 4, 2014, the Kenyan Police targeted and forcefully entered a Banyamulenge church in Kasarani, Nairobi and rounded up about 164 people including men, children, and pregnant women. They were kept in police station for over 3 days without adequate water, food, clothing or sleeping bags. Many mothers were separated from their children and infants (in one case a seven month old baby was separated from its mother).
We express grave concern that on Wednesday May 7, 2014 the Kenyan police used unnecessary extra force, including tear gas and corporal beatings, to load these innocent refugees into trucks and deport them to Dadaab Refugee Camp. There are reports that members of the police are now illegally searching streets and homes, and detaining additional Banyamulenge people in Nairobi, Kenya with the aim of sending them to refugee camps.
The Banyamulenge cannot live safely in refugee camps. Over the course of many years they have sought safety in Nairobi due to ongoing threats and attacks that have occurred in camps in the region.
In the 2004 Gatumba Camp Massacre in Burundi 166 innocent Banyamulenge refugees were killed and 116 injured. In the 1997 Mudende Camp Massacre in Rwanda our community was also attacked and massacred in a larger-scale attack with over 500 killed and injured. There have been other smaller scale attacks and ongoing threats in refugee camps in Kenya and other countries at various times. Those in Dadaab camp currently are afraid for their lives and have already felt threatened.
We call on the Kenyan government and police and security forces to adhere to the Kenyan High Court of Nairobi Petition number 206 of May 6th, 2014 allowing refugees to stay in their places of residence in Nairobi until a further hearing. In relation to this petition we call on the Kenyan government to allow the return of Banyamulenge to their places of residence in Nairobi who were forcibly deported to Dadaab Refugee Camp and separated from their children after the High Court of Kenya Petition 206. And we call on the Kenyan government to uphold its responsibilities and commitment under the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees to protect our community and allow them the necessary freedoms and rights that ensure their safety.
Mahoro Association and Gatumba Refugee Survivors Foundation, Inc., USA