A group of 30 human rights activists has embarked climbing Mt. Kenya to raise awareness on human rights violations in the country.
The hike, which is part of this year’s celebrations to mark International Human Rights Day, is also meant to raise funds to put up a Human Rights Centre in Nairobi that will house victims of rights violations as well as offering legal aid
Speaking on Tuesday in Nanyuki town during the flagging of the mountaineers by Laikipia Deputy Governor, John Mwaniki, the Coalition for Human Rights Defenders Executive Director, Kamau Ngugi said that they had so far raised Sh.3.6 million towards the cause and hoped that with scaling the second highest mountain in Africa more donations would be forthcoming.
Ngugi added that human rights defenders have been mobilising for funds in the country by doing preparatory hikes in Longonot, Elephant and William hills with a view of creating awareness about social injustices and the need for Kenyans to speak out against them.
“We do not just want to conquer the mountain but are also focused on the need to raise awareness about social injustices as well as raise money to construct a centre for human rights defenders next year,” Ngugi said before the flagging off.
He further added that the scaling of the mountain comes amidst a backdrop of challenges by human rights defenders that range from occupational risks to persecution with little or no protection from government agencies in their fight for freedom of expression.
The executive director added that they hoped to make the fight for human rights a national agenda with the excursion that ends on Jamhuri Day at Old Moses Camp at the base of Mt. Kenya, and urged more Kenyans to join in the cause.
The Deputy Governor called for increased sensitisation on human rights and the fight for social injustices in society.
One of the climbers James Mungai 68, said that he had scaled Mt. Kenya twice before in a bid to raise awareness about injustices in society.
Mungai added that his family lost its ancestral land in Makuyu to influential persons thus igniting his desire to become a human rights crusader.
By Martin Munyi