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Tanzania: Forceful eviction of Indigenous Maasai People for tourist development must be halted immediately

More than 70,000 Indigenous Maasai people in Loliondo at risk of being displaced

Security forces have shot at protesters with live ammunition and used teargas

‘This unlawful forced eviction is shocking in both its scale and brutality’ – Deprose Muchena

Tanzanian authorities must immediately halt the violent forced eviction of the Indigenous Maasai community in Loliondo and launch an urgent investigation into the security crackdown, which has left dozens of people injured, many missing and a police officer killed, Amnesty International said today.

Amnesty is also calling on Tanzanian authorities to suspend any land acquisition plans until the Maasai community has given their free, prior and informed consent in genuine consultations.

More than 70,000 Indigenous Maasai people are at risk of being displaced from 1,500 sq km (580 sq miles) of their ancestral grazing lands to make way for a tourism development. When Tanzanian security forces began the demarcation process on 9 June, members of the community protested by removing the beacons the security forces had set up.  

According to two eyewitnesses, security forces started shooting at the protesters with live ammunition and also used teargas, injuring 30 people.  Most of those who were seriously injured have crossed the border to Kenya to get medical treatment, though thousands are in urgent need of treatment and food supplies.

Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa, said:

“This unlawful forced eviction is shocking in both its scale and brutality. The Tanzanian authorities should never have allocated this area to a private business without first consulting the Maasai community, whose livelihoods depend on their ancestral land.

“If this land confiscation goes ahead, the Maasai community’s livelihoods and way of life are in jeopardy.

“Tanzanian authorities must conduct prompt, effective, and independent investigations into this horrific campaign of alleged human rights violations, including killing, arbitrary arrest and detention of people during this land acquisition process. The perpetrators must be brought to justice in fair trials.”

A decade of dispute

Loliondo is a division in Tanzania’s northern Ngorongoro district, in Arusha region. It borders Serengeti National Park to the west, Ngorongoro Conservation Area to the south, and Kenya to the north.

In 1992, the Tanzanian government leased the whole of Loliondo division as a hunting block to a company from the United Arab Emirates.

The recent security forces operations are the fourth attempt to evict the Indigenous Maasai people, who are pastoralists, on their grazing site at Loliondo, in a dispute that has lasted more than a decade. Security forces were previously deployed in 2009, 2013 and 2017, when they evicted people from four villages: Ololosokwan, Oloirien, Kirtalo and Arash.

On 25 September 2018, the East African Court of Justice issued orders which included explicit directions that the state cease from evicting the Maasai Indigenous people until a case that the community had filed against the state was determined. The court is set to issue its judgement next week.

Unlawful detention

Dozens of people have been detained without charge since protests began on 9 June.  They include nine councillors, a lawyer for the community, and the chairman of the district’s ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi Party, who are all being held in unknown locations.

According to a lawyer representing community members, police denied holding these detainees when their families came looking for them, despite people witnessing their arrests.

Dozens more people are believed to be detained at Loliondo Police Station, where they have been denied legal representation and access to their family. Many other people from the Maasai community are also reported to be missing, while many others have fled to the nearby forest in fear of police reprisals.

 

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