Sunday, 24 September 2017

Human Rights Crimes Following Illegal Evictions Continue in Loliondo Despite Stop Order

The human rights crime continues after the interim stop order by CHRAGG.

Rangers have sold illegally seized cattle.

Outrageously malicious lies by Minister Maghembe.

And outrageously delayed action.

Court case finally filed by the villages in the East African Court of Justice.

This blog post is outrageously delayed as well since I wanted to report about the court case, that’s been delayed, and then filed, but silenced for reasons that vary according to who you ask. Now it’s allowed to mention it... The previous, now old, blog post has some updates.

Updated below (Minister Maghembe was fired on 7th October!).
What could not be allowed to happen again, happened, and like in 2009 the Maasai in western Loliondo division of Ngorongoro district again suffered a violent and illegal arson attack. From 13th to 26th August 2017 hundreds of bomas were burned to the ground by rangers from Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area assisted by local Loliondo police – and others, namely OBC and KDU (anti-poaching, close to OBC) rangers - and thousands of people were left without food or shelter. Cows were dispersed during this extreme drought, and there was terror and panic everywhere. The arson started in the Oloosek area of Ololosokwan village where a Serengeti ranger had shot the herder Parmoson Ololoso* in both legs and one arm on 8th August, and then the arson continued all the way to Piyaya 90 km further south. People returning after the illegal evictions were brutally beaten by the rangers and some arrested and sent to Mugumu at the other side of Serengeti National Park. Cattle were seized and big fines demanded. All this did not happen in any protected area, but on village land that per Village Land Act No.5 of 1999 should be managed by the local villages. The affected villages are Ololosokwan, Kirtalo (Soitsambu ward), Oloipiri, Olorien, Oloosoitok (Maaloni ward), Maaloni, Arash, Ormanie (Arash ward), and Piyaya.

This human rights crime has been committed at a quite unexpected moment. In late 2016 OBC, that organises hunting for Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, sent out a press release about a “report” that they had prepared detailing the necessity of their long-time wish for turning the 1,500 km2 of village land and important dry season grazing area next to Serengeti National Park, land that just happens to serve as their core hunting area, into a “protected area”. PM Majaliwa tasked Arusha RC Gambo with “solving the conflict” and the RC set up a select committee that on 20 April 2017 presented a rather sad compromise proposal (that’s what’s transpired even though the report hasn’t even been made public) to the PM. Then nothing has been heard from PM Majaliwa.

Onesmo Olengurumwa of Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition sent out a call to immediate intervention already on 13th August (and I wrote the first blog post), and on the 25th the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) issued an urgent alert, but haven’t updated their information. Then, on 30th August, Onesmo Olengurumwa, together with four representatives from Loliondo (Kipilangat Kaura, Mushao Naing'isa, Pirius Maingo, and Molongo Sikoyo) met with the government organ Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG, that hadn’t been of any help at all in 2009) to hand in a formal complaint, which had effect since CHRAGG on 4th September issued an interim stop order demanding that the government explain the operation – but brutal beatings, arrests and seizure of cattle continue anyway! On 7th September Survival International sent a protest letter to various Tanzanian authorities and international organisations. The 12th-18th September issue of the Jamhuri paper, in which Manyerere Jackton indulges in hate speech and defamation of the Maasai of Loliondo, had Survival’s letter and the words “NGO ya Uingereza yajaribu Magufuli” (NGO from England tests Magufuli) on the frontpage, but I have still not been sent the “article”! Onesmo Olengurumwa was again “questioned about his citizenship” (a pure intimidation tactic) on 20th September…

On Monday 18th September, the rangers – I don’t know who exactly gave the direct order, but obeying orders can no longer be an excuse here – went further into lawlessness and depravity starting to auction off cows illegally seized on village land and impounded at Klein’s gate! Many cows impounded by the rangers had already died. This is a purposeful and totally illegal destruction of the livelihoods of the affected people. The beatings by rangers continued during this illegal sale, and Parketuyan Toroge had to be admitted to hospital in Mugumu in critical condition. I’ve been told that it’s feared that one herder who had already lost many cows in the drought could commit suicide.  The Nipashe paper quoted Ololosokwan village chairman Kerry Dokonyo (translated): “We ask President Magufuli to help us intervening in this issue, because we are subject to extreme abuse. Leaders don’t want to help us. What they want is to remove us from this village without following the law. They use force.”
After burning our bomas and houses they have begun seizing cattle in the village driving them to the national park area and locking them up while claiming that they entered, when it’s not true.” Some of those affected were interviewed by Deutsche Welle Swahili and Ayo TV, and mentioned – besides the illegal seizing of cows on village land following the arson attack - being given incorrect receipts when “buying” their own cows.

On 23rd September, after heading the commissioning ceremony of officer cadets President Magufuli addressed the nation at Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium in Arusha. Among the many placards held by the audience, those against Maghembe, OBC and the abuse and attacks against land rights in Loliondo stood out. “OBC inatunyanyasa Loliondo, Maghembe ni jipu, utuondolee” (“OBC oppresses us in Loliondo. Maghembe is a boil. Remove him”. The president likes to use boils/abscesses as metaphors.), was one example. Instead of addressing the concerns of the protestors, the President ordered the placards to be collected so that he could read them later.

On Thursday 21st September 2017, a court case was finally filed in the East African Court of Justice: Ololosokwan, Kirtalo, Olorien and Arash versus the Attorney General, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Jumanne Maghembe, and the Ngorongoro District Commisssioner, Rashid Mfaume Taka. Correction: I was first told otherwise, but the Attorney General is the only respondent. I’ve been told it’s because of the rules of the court. I do hope Maghembe and Mfaume Taka will be punished for their human rights crimes.

The criminals
As mentioned, on 17th August a press statement from the Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism quoting Ngorongoro DC Rashid Mfaume Taka, explained that the operation was conducted by Ngorongoro Security Committee, Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, and that the aim was to protect the ecosystem and the tourism business. The arson on village land wasn’t denied, but outrageously explained as “just” five kilometres from the park boundary. Mfaume Taka, a former university lecturer, who was believed to be a new kind of DC, is now treating people as “problem animals” and pretending never to have heard about neither Tanzanian law nor human rights. This shows the colonial roots of the office of DC, managing the natives, and also shows how it turns anyone into a psychopath. With this human rights crime OBC’s own journalists (Manyerere Jackton who has written over 40 articles full of hate speech and defamation of the Loliondo Maasai, and Masyaga Matinyi who occasionally joins him) went from making up crazy stories about the DC to treating his every word as the truth. In both the Mtanzania and the Jamhuri the DC says that the operation is not at all about the 1,500 km2 wanted for a “protected area” by the hunters from Dubai, since PM Majaliwa is yet to say something about the proposal.

Several Tanzanian ministers for natural resources and tourism have gone out of their way to please the hunters from Dubai (see the previous blog post), but Jumanne Maghembe has taken it a step further… While the RC’s committee was working on finding a “solution to the conflict” on 28th January 2017 Maghembe showed up in Loliondo, and flanked by OBC’s journalists he declared that the 1,500 km2 had to be declared a protected area before the end of March. Then in March, Maghembe took the parliamentary standing committee on lands, natural resources and tourism on such a tour of Loliondo that several committee members members - Joseph Kasheku Musukuma (MP for Geita Vijijini, CCM), Paulina Gekul (MP for Babati Mjini, Chadema), Godwin Mollel (MP for Siha, Chadema) and Omari Kigoda (MP for Handeni Mjini, CCM) - protested about being used to rubber stamp Maghembe’s plan for giving the land to OBC. After the start of the human rights crime, apparently without having read the statement from his own ministry, Maghembe lied to media that the 1,500 km2 already was a protected area that had to be emptied of people and cattle, and that this was the purpose of the operation. On Azam TV Maghembe was given 30 undisturbed minutes to, in front of the map from OBC’s draft District Land Use Plan that for obvious reasons was strongly rejected by the district council in 2011, keep repeating his lies, and repeating in a gossipy and not that well-rehearsed way some of the defamatory lies cooked up by OBC’s journalist about Loliondo land activists. My name – but unfortunately not the name of my blog so that people could see for themselves – was mentioned as someone who’d been chased out of Tanzania and was doing “business” inciting the Maasai, as if people who’ve been fighting for their land since long before I could find Loliondo on a map needed incitement and as if you could do “business” blogging about land grabbing “investors” (though maybe you can if you write about how “philanthropic” they are). Not even remembering who to insult, Maghembe added that there’s “another one” who has a Tanzanian passport without being Tanzanian. The fact is that anyone who speaks up for land rights and human rights in Loliondo will be accused of being “Kenyan”. It doesn’t matter if you’re born and bred in Tanzania, have had a Tanzanian passport for many years, or even held political office in the ruling party. There’s one way and one way only of not suffering this cruel harassment by authorities, and that’s being a friend of land grabbing “investors”.

I shouldn’t have to repeat this…
The same lies as Minister Maghembe is now telling media, were already told by his predecessor Kagasheki in 2013, until the at that time PM Pinda put stop to him and declared the obvious: that the land is village land. The Maasai of Loliondo already lost considerable land in 1958 with the creation of Serengeti National Park. Loliondo Game Controlled Area was also declared in the 1950s and it regulated hunting without interfering with local people’s activities. With the Wildlife Conservation Act of 1974 that regulated hunting in all of Tanzania the function of the LGCA changed to limiting the borders of hunting blocks, and OBC’s hunting block is the whole of the 4,000 km2 Loliondo CGA, which is more than the whole of Loliondo division and includes, among other areas, agricultural land, forest, the two “towns” of Wasso and Loliondo, the DC’s office and Wasso Hospital. People like Maghembe base their lies on the Wildlife Conservation Act of 2009 that came into effect in 2010 and in which GCAs are protected areas, exactly like game reserves, and Maghembe was initially also talking about the 1,500 km2 as a “game reserve”. Though this act also says that village land and GCA can’t overlap and that “within twelve months of coming into operation of this act and after consultation of the relevant authorities, review the list of game controlled areas for ascertaining potentially justifying continuation of control of any such area”. Therefore, OBC funded a draft District Land Use Plan that proposed turning the 1,500 km2 of important grazing land on which they hunt (there isn’t much wildlife around the DC office …) into the new kind of GCA, and thereby evict the Maasai that depend on this land. This irregular (it didn’t involve the concerned villages) plan was strongly rejected by Ngorongoro District Council since it would have led to destruction of livelihoods, environmental degradation and increased conflict with neighbours.
All land in Loliondo is village land per section 7(1) of the Village Land Act No. 5 of 1999 since it fulfils the following definitions - one definition being sufficient to qualify as village land.
-Land within the boundaries of villages registered according to the Local Government
(District Authorities) Act, 1982.
-Land demarcated as village land under any administrative procedure or in accord with any statutory or customary law.
-General land that villagers have been using for the twelve years preceding the enactment of the Village Land Act, 1999. This includes land customarily used for grazing cattle or
passage of cattle (TNRF, 2011).

There hasn’t been any decision, proper procedure, or even improper procedure to turn the 1,500 km2 osero into any kind of “protected area” – only lies and human rights crime.

No need to use “allegedly” about OBC
Besides playing divide and rule, “making friends” in high and low places, and inciting conflict, OBC have at times been very open with their campaign for turning the 1,500 km2 osero into a “protected area”.

In 2009 – a year with a severe drought, like 2017 - OBC’s rangers together with the paramilitary Field Force Unit illegally burned hundreds of bomas, and caused the same kind of suffering as has now hit Loliondo. In the chaos of that human rights crime, 7-year old Nashipai Gume from Arash was lost and hasn’t been found, ever since.

In late 2009, OBC’s managing director, Isaack Mollel, boasted to media about having donated TShs. 156 million for land use planning. As mentioned, the resulting draft District Land Use Plan was revealed as proposing the 1,500 km2 as a “protected area”, and was strongly rejected by the District Council in early 2011.

Always when interviewed, Mollel has claimed that the land belongs to the government that has given the hunting block to OBC, sometimes even in the same article as OBC’s “friends” are saying that they want to work with this “good investor”, which bad “Kenyans” won’t let them do, and that there isn’t any risk for the land, since it’s protected by the law as village land…

And in November 2016 a press release from OBC about their “report” detailing the need for alienating the 1,500 km2 was used by several newspapers – and then presented to “stakeholders” when PM Majaliwa tasked RC Gambo with “solving the conflict”. I have a problem with words like “stakeholders” and “conflict” – even if I’ve often used the latter myself - when it’s the case of criminals abusing the rightsholders.
Some of the gifts from OBC to the Miinistry of Natural Resources and Tourism to be used against "poaching" in Loliondo. From OBC's 2007 calender. 
There are others who are inciting this crime as well. As mentioned in the previous blog post, the Serengeti chief game warden Mwakilema told Maghembe’s co-opted standing committee in March that funds from Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the state owned German Development Bank (KfW), for a Serengeti Ecosystem Development and Conservation Project, were subject to the approval of the land use plan that would alienate the 1,500 km2 for a protected area. This hasn’t been denied nor confirmed by the Germans. Then, too many people from the tourism and NGO businesses seem to have an urge, whenever they see anything about human rights crime against the Maasai, to frantically comment about any real or ideologically imagined fault with Maasai society.

Inexplicable behaviour by some leaders
Many leaders in Loliondo are strangely slow and inactive in reacting to the ongoing human rights crime. Increased repression with illegal arrests and malicious prosecution could explain the fear of some of them, and so could the confusion after their friend, the DC, became a human rights criminal, and their “ally” the RC isn’t saying anything at all, but too many people have told me that the explanation is that the leaders are selfish and useless. Most shocking and bewildering is the lack of reaction by the MP for Ngorongoro, William Olenasha, who was elected not least because of his seriousness in land issues. All I talked with seemed to trust him as a person (so did I, very much), even if not being supporters of his party, but now his legitimacy is widely, almost unanimously, questioned. Apart from in social media on 14th August having said he’s very sorry, that it’s not illegal to reside near the boundary, and that he and other leaders are working hard to stop the operation, Olenasha has been completely silent! Only on 20th September the MP commented in a very restricted access group (of which I’m not a member) saying that he must work in another way as a deputy minister than as a MP, and that he is writing to and meeting relevant authorities – but didn’t provide any copy of such writings, and talked in a strangely detached way about defending the land just like important services like water, electricity, roads etc… I’m hearing many complaints about how some councillors, and not least the council chairman, are delaying action.  Only one councillor has been speaking up strongly in media and that’s Yannick Ndoinyo of Ololosokwan, while the councillor for Soitsambu is also said to be active, together with the village chairmen of Ololosokwan, Kirtalo, Olorien and Arash. Time will tell exactly who has been useful and it will be reported in this blog. Then the judgement will come in 2020…

The human rights crime must be stopped, the victims helped, and the perpetrators punished! Where are those who were so loud when the ongoing atrocities were just a vociferous threat and even when they were less than that?

There have been some short rains, but it’s still the peak of the drought season of a drought year.

On 25th September while herding sheep and goats in the Oloosek area Simanga Parmwat was badly beaten by OBC rangers.

The de-humanization spirit has spread south to NCA where rangers on the 26th shot two pregnant donkeys and subjected six people to beatings at Oldupai (Olduvai).

On 27th September KDU rangers took away 600 cows on village land in Enalubo.

It’s been ridiculously difficult to obtain exact information, but on 25th September 7 bomas were burned in Ilmasheren and 2 were burned in Oldashi. Both areas are in Oloipiri village under “investor-friendly” leadership. The rangers also physically assaulted people and stole a motorbike. The same day the rangers burned an unknown number of bomas in Oltulelei in Olorien village.

On 5th October the senator of Narok County in Kenya, Ledama Olekina, took the ward councillor, the village chairman and a couple of other representatives from Ololosokwan to see the Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga and seek his support defending their land, asking him to speak with President Magufuli. Raila agreed to do so. 

On 6th October Buffalo Luxury Camp in Oloosek extracted fines for cows that had entered the camp, which the company doesn’t have any authority to do.

On 7th October Serengeti rangers illegally seized cows on village land near Klein’s airstrip, and detained them at Klein’s gate.

In a cabinet reshuffle on 7th October Maghembe was removed as Minister for Natural Resources. This is cause for celebration, but sadly he’s replaced by an ignorant loud-mouth who has been boasting about his lack of regard for human rights: the former Deputy Minister for Health Hamisi Kigwangalla.

Susanna Nordlund

*earlier spelled “Pormoson”. Parmoson Ololoso who was shot in Oloosek by a Serengeti National Park ranger on 8th August (five days before the arson attack and human rights crime started) was taken to Narok by his brother in law Nicholas Kipees, since Parmoson was discharged from Wasso Hospital without enough treatment. A CT scan was done and it was discovered that two vessels in Parmoson’s right thigh were badly injured. He was referred to Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi for surgery. The brother in law came with Parmoson from Nairobi, and they returned on 22nd September for the operation – always using taxis, since public transport isn’t possible – and were told that the cost is estimated to KShs 200,000 – 300,000! Parmoson could not be admitted to hospital before paying a deposit of KShs 100,000, which the family is now trying to gather.
Assistance towards Parmoson’s treatment is very welcome!
The Mpesa number of Parmoson's brother in law Nicholas Kipees is: +245 729 054 132

Update: Parmoson has got help from Narok county government even though he isn't even a Kenyan.

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