Saturday, 19 August 2017


To any Tanzanian or international organisation or individual who can do or say anything against the ongoing human rights crime in Loliondo:

Posted 30 August: How Could Massive Human Rights Crime Happen Again in Loliondo and Why is There Such Silence?

In Loliondo, Ngorongoro District, Tanzania there are currently ongoing extrajudicial evictions of the Maasai pastoralists in a 1,500 km2 area. This is the same as the human rights abuse that took place in 2009 and a repeat at this moment was very unexpected.

On Sunday 13th August rangers from Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area together with the police set fire to bomas (homesteads) in the Oloosek area of Ololosokwan village. The following days the illegal operation has continued to several other areas inside the 1,500 km2, from Ololosokwan in the north to Piyaya 90 kilometres further south, hundreds of bomas (homesteads) have been burned to the ground, and the operation continues.

All the affected areas are classified as village land and should be managed by the villages as per Village Land Act No.5 of 1999 and Local Government (District Authority) Act No.7 of 1982.

Otterlo Business Corporation that organises hunting for Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai has for years been lobbying the Tanzanian government to reclassify the 1,500 km2 area as a protected area and thereby evict the Maasai.

Like in 2009 there’s currently a very severe drought.

Intimidation of local activists has increased, culminating with illegal arrests and malicious prosecution in 2016.

The Arusha Regional Commissioner, Mrisho Gambo, had set up a committee that in April presented a compromise proposal to Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa whose decision everyone was waiting for, and this makes the operation even more unexpected at this time.

The excuse presented by the DC is that people were entering Serengeti National Park too easily. A press release from the Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism isn’t even trying to hide the fact that bomas are being burned on village land, and says that the operation will go on for fourteen days.

The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism has told media that it’s evictions from the 1,500 km2 that are taking place, while lying that this land would already be a game reserve (pori la akiba), and thereby contradicting the press statement from his own ministry.

The ongoing illegal operation has made access to water and grazing sources impossible, and the extent of dispersal of livestock is yet unknown. 

The Tanzanian government must be requested to immediately stop the operation, compensate for losses, allow emergency grazing in Serengeti National Park, and provide food and shelter for the victims.

Legal action must be taken against whoever ordered the operation, and against all participating in it.

Susanna Nordlund

Update: As feared in MarchGerman money could also have had its part in the ongoing human right crime. 

Update 25th August: It seems like the last arson was committed in Naibor Soit, Piyaya on 23rd August. People have returned to some areas and are re-building their bomas. 

Update 26th August: the illegal “operation” continues with arrests of people and cows in the Oloosek area in Ololosokwan.

The background
In 1958 the Maasai were evicted to give room for Serengeti National Park, and many of those evicted resettled in Loliondo.

All land in Loliondo is village land per Village Land Act No.5 of 1999, and more than the whole of Loliondo is also a Game Controlled Area (of the old kind that doesn’t affect human activities and can overlap with village land) where OBC has the hunting block. Stan Katabalo – maybe Tanzania’s last investigative journalist - reported about how this hunting block was acquired in the early 90s.

In 2007-2008 the affected villages were threatened into signing a Memorandum of Understanding with OBC.

In the drought year 2009 the Field Force Unit and OBC extrajudicially evicted people and cattle from some 1,500 km2 of dry season grazing land that serve as the core hunting area next to Serengeti National Park. Hundreds of houses were burned and thousands of cattle were chased into an extreme drought area which did not have enough food or water to sustain them. 7-year old Nashipai Gume was lost in the chaos and has not been found, ever since.

People eventually moved back, and some leaders started participating in reconciliation ceremonies with OBC.

Soon enough, in 2010-2011, OBC totally funded a draft district land use plan that proposed turning the 1,500 km2 into the new kind of Game Controlled Area that’s a “protected” (not from hunting) area and can’t overlap with village land. This plan, that would have allowed a more “legal” repeat of 2009, was strongly rejected by Ngorongoro District Council.

In 2013, then Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Khamis Kagasheki, made bizarre statements as if all village land in Loliondo would have disappeared through magic, and the people of Loliondo would be generously “gifted” with the land outside the 1,500 km2. This was nothing but a horribly twisted way of again trying to evict the Maasai landowners from OBC’s core hunting area. There’s of course no way a Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism would have the mandate for such a trick of magic. After many mass meetings – where there was agreement to never again enter any MoU with OBC - and protest delegations to Dar es Salaam and Dodoma, then Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda in a speech on 23rd September the same year revoked Kagasheki’s threat and told the Maasai to continue their lives as before this threat that through the loss of dry season grazing land would have led to the destruction of livelihoods, environmental degradation and increased conflict with neighbours.

Parts of the press – foremost Manyerere Jackton in the Jamhuri – increased their incitement against the Maasai of Loliondo as “Kenyan” and governed by destructive NGOs. OBC’s “friends” in Loliondo became more active in the harassment of those speaking up against the “investors”, even though they themselves don’t want the GCA 2009, and rely on others, the same people they persecute, to stop it…

Speaking up against OBC (and against Thomson Safaris, the American tour operator claiming ownership of 12,617 acres, and that shares the same friends as OBC) had always been risky, but the witch-hunt intensified with mass arrests in July 2016. Four people were charged with a truly demented “espionage and sabotage” case. Manyerere Jackton has openly boasted about his direct involvement in the illegal arrests of innocent people for the sake of intimidation.

In July 2016, Manyeree Jackton wrote an “article” calling for PM Majaliwa to return the Kagasheki-style threat. In November 2016 OBC sent out a “report” to the press detailing the need for the alienation of the 1,500 km2 of important grazing land. In mid-December 2016, the Arusha RC Mrisho Gambo was tasked by the PM with setting up a committee to “solve the conflict”, and on 25th January 2017 the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, in the middle of the drought stricken Osero (bushland), flanked by the most OBC-devoted journalists, and ignoring the ongoing talks, made a declaration that the land had to be taken before the end of March. In March 2017 Minister Maghembe co-opted a Parliamentary Standing Committee, and then the RC’s committee started marking “critical areas” while being met with protest. On 21st March a compromise proposing a Wildlife Management Area (which the Maasai had rejected during many years of pressure) was presented by the RC’s committee, handed over to PM Majaliwa on 20th April, and we are still waiting to hear something from the PM.

While everyone was still waiting to hear from the PM, rangers from Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area started burning bomas in the 1,500 km2, just like in 2009.

Stop this atrocity now!

New blog post HERE.

No comments: