EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 32/07/93
Please draw this action to the attention of the person responsible for outreach
work in your section as it is felt that appeals from women's groups and
environmental organizations might be particularly effective
UA 58/93 Fear for safety 4 March 1993
KENYA: Wangari Maathai (female) - environmentalist, opposition
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of Professor Wangari Maathai,
who has gone into hiding in fear for her life.
Wangari Maathai went into hiding following a public accusation by President
Moi on 20 February 1993 that she was distributing "inflammatory leaflets" in
a violence-torn area in western Kenya, and after the abduction and beating
on 25 February 1993 by masked assailants of her colleague, John Makanga, at
his pharmacy at the Nairobi Hilton Hotel. John Makanga was brought to court
by the police on 1 March and charged with distributing seditious publications.
He showed signs of new injuries evidently sustained in police custody, and
his assailants had clearly been police officers (see UA 54/93, AFR 32/06/93,
2 March 1993).
Wangari Maathai has expressed fears that she could be attacked by unidentified
security agents, arrested for "sedition" and jailed in an unfair trial, or
even killed, because of her allegations of government involvement in the
violence in western Kenya.
In February 1993 there were renewed clashes between members of the Kalenjin
and Kikuyu ethnic groups in Uasin Gishu district in Rift Valley Province. Several
people were killed near the town of Burnt Forest and hundreds were forced to
flee their homes. Wangari Maathai and John Makanga had apparently visited Kikuyu
victims of the clashes who were being helped in church refugee centres. They
reportedly distributed leaflets about a "Tribal Clashes Resettlement Volunteer
Service" which criticised the authorities for encouraging or condoning the
attacks by Kalenjins (members of President Moi's ethnic group) and which urged
Kikuyus to defend themselves, as the police were failing in this task. Wangari
Maathai rejected accusations by government members and Kenya African National
Union (KANU) party officials that she was provoking the violence under the
cover of the Green Belt Movement; she said her purpose was to prevent violence
and help the victims. She had appealed to the Police Commissioner to attend
a public meeting about the clashes but instead the police arrested John Makanga,
a fellow opposition activist, who was due to attend this meeting with her.
Similar "ethnic clashes" in 1992 left tens of thousands of people displaced