Sunday, 16 September 2018

Release Clinton and Ingrid! Stop insanity and abuse in Loliondo!

Multiple horrible abuse has been going on in Loliondo, and I’m working on a very delayed and very long blog post, full of incomplete information. I must however now write about the most malicious and stupid ongoing illegal arrests that people were shockingly silent about for days, and ask anyone who can help to please do so.

Update: Clinton and Ingrid were released Monday afternoon 17/9 after three and five nights of illegal arrest. I hope more details will follow.

I want to make it clear that I had hardly even heard about Ingrid before the arrest, and have never had had communication with her whatsoever, before or after.

More updates below.

On Friday 14th September I got an email with a short greeting from Manyerere Jackton, the “journalist” who has written over 50 articles full of hate speech against the Maasai of Loliondo. This only happens when he’s up to something bad, like another defamatory article in support of land alienation to benefit the “investor” in Loliondo, or illegal arrests of real or imagined friends of mine. He wanted to know if I was in Loliondo. Later the same day I was contacted by people saying that some “investor friendly” individuals were commenting that I had been arrested after crossing the border in Ngaresero, in the vehicle of an NGO… This was “interesting” to hear when I was sitting at home in Sweden being sad because I hadn’t been invited to a wedding in Kirtalo, even if I wouldn’t have been able to attend it, or anything else in Tanzania, anyway, ever.

Then, in the evening (still Friday) a news alert from Tanzania Human Rights Defenders’ coalition was shared. It carried terrible news. THRDC had just learned about the arbitrary arrests at the wedding of my friend, secondary school teacher Clinton Eng’wes Kairung, on Tuesday 11th September. Those arrested were a Belgian national, Ingrid de Graeve, who works with Upendo Orphanage Centre in Arusha, the groom himself, Clinton, and two other people accompanying Ingrid, about whom I’ve not yet got any information at all, and don’t even know if they exist. The guests were supposed to have been arrested at the ceremony and Clinton later in the evening. THRDC added that Clinton was once arrested and charged with espionage and later his case was withdrawn after their intervention, and finalized saying that they were making close follow up to know the truth of this incident, the reasons for their arrest, and the police station in which they are currently detained, and that would keep us posted as they got to know more details.
This information seemed vague, shockingly delayed, and bound to be corrected. I shared it in social media, but nobody came forward with more details than that the grapevine was saying that, “Ingrid is the banned Susan Norland (Susanna Nordlund). She was able to come in with another nationality/passport as her original Swedish passport was stamped prohibited person!” If I had the resources to change my nationality and establish myself in Arusha, I would surely also be able to get more and better information for my blog… Further, my passport wasn’t even stamped when I was arrested in 2015, and the problem is my fingerprints that I can’t change and that are registered everywhere, and even more the very dangerous servants of “investors” in Loliondo, even if they fortunately seem to have forgotten what I look like.

On Saturday 15th September, I was informed that Clinton and Ingrid had been taken to Arusha and were still under arrest. I heard from one person who went to Arusha Central Police station to check, which is brave indeed by current Loliondo standards, even if those working there are busy with a variety of thieves (those in 2015 were quite charming and sincere compared to Immigration officials) and probably don’t have much of a stake in bizarre repression in Loliondo, but the only information this person could obtain was that nothing would happen until Monday.

Since I hadn’t heard any other reason for the arrests than the very strange belief that Ingrid would be me, I got a photo of myself under an apple tree holding my passport, and my laptop showing that it was 15th September. I posted this in social media to prove that I wasn’t arrested in Tanzania. Then, and only then, late Saturday evening did someone directly affected and with first-hand information break the silence.

Supuk Olemaoi, another secondary school teacher, wrote a Facebook post in Swahili (so I hope that I’ve understood it correctly) that he on Tuesday 11th September was asked by Clinton to receive his friend and wedding guest in Wasso, and before continuing to the wedding in Kirtalo, take her to the Immigration office so that she could attend the celebrations without problems. I suppose this would be a normal procedure in North Korea, and I assume that Ingrid is even a Tanzanian resident. I’m afraid that the Immigration visit only served to draw unnecessary attention to a short Loliondo visit.

In the evening when leaving the wedding in Kirtalo, Supuk got an SMS telling him that I, Susanna, had been sighted in Wasso and that the police was looking for me. Supuk disregarded this message since he knew that it was just street-talk. Then, Wednesday night, 12th September, Supuk got a phone call saying that I would have been arrested at Ngaresero. Clintons guest, Ingrid, had spent Tuesday night in Wasso and on Wednesday morning left for Ngaresero. There she was arrested and returned to Loliondo.

On Friday, 14th September, Supuk got a phone call summoning him to meet with the “Afisa Upelelezi wa Wilaya”, which must mean the Officer Commanding Investigation Division of Ngorongoro District, Marwa Mwita, who’s been leading the recent intimidation wave to derail the case in the East African Court of Justice. Supuk arrived at 2pm, but couldn’t meet with those who had called him for a while, but was directed to phone Clinton and tell him to come as well, which Supuk did. After three hours Supuk was questioned by the Ngorongoro Security Committee, and he told them what he knew about Clinton’s guest under arrest. Clinton arrived and was questioned around 6pm. Thereafter, he was arrested, and on Saturday morning, 15th September, taken to Arusha (together with Ingrid).

Supuk added that all this trouble was about me, Susanna Nordlund, and directed people to see what I was writing (“Proof that I'm in Sweden today. Stop insanity and abuse in Loliondo! Release Clinton and Ingrid”, above my photo), while in Tanzania others are insisting that it’s me. He ends the Facebook post by calling for the release of Clinton and his friends.

From Wednesday to Saturday, four nights, Ingrid was arrested at Loliondo police station. Onesmo Olengurumwa of THRDC wasn’t contacted by someone (who apparently has limited information) until Friday, and in the news alert from THRDC it seems like Ingrid was accompanied by two people, but in Supuk’s Facebook post she’s referred to in singular, except for in the last sentence. I haven’t been able to get any clarifications, maybe because it’s late, but nobody has named any other people. Current night temperatures in Loliondo town are around 12 (maybe one or two degrees warmer than in late June), the windows only have bars and no glass. Those arrested (at least my experience in 2015) sleep on concrete without any blanket, unless some night worker brings something after everyone else has left, and the cells are infested with mosquitos. There’s no lamp, so it’s pitch-dark. Neither is there any water or toilet, only a bucket. Clinton was there the fourth night, but probably not in the same cell. At Arusha police station (2015 conditions) the cells are warmer and those arrested are lent some old clothes to cover themselves. There’s harsh light the whole night, and there’s water and a toilet. Clinton and Ingrid are spending this night there, and probably also tomorrow night. Clinton's bride is alone on her honeymoon.
Photo taken without asking from the Facebook timeline of a relative of the bride. He's silent and probably also sleeping.

In 2016, Clinton was arrested for ten nights at Loliondo police station. The only reason that this happened was because he had visited me when I was in Kenya. Unlike the cases of others who were arrested in the same intimidation wave, I hardly think anyone would otherwise have thought of targeting him. Before the arrest Manyerere Jackton emailed me saying, “Finally you will know who’s the worst journalist and who’s the worst mzungu”. Supuk, and the NGO coordinator Samwel Nangiria joined him for a very long and totally illegal and arbitrary arrest. Other people, like the chairmen of Mondorosi and Kirtalo, and the councillor of Ololosokwan were arrested for a shorter while. A special task force from Dar es Salaam came to Loliondo for the interrogations, and it later transpired that Samwel and Supuk were badly beaten during the interrogations. Bail wasn’t granted until advocate Shilinde Ngalula was himself arrested in full court attire, Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition filed a habeas corpus application, lawyers in Arusha held a manifestation and the Tanganyika Law Society issued a statement. Later was Maanda Ngoitiko of Pastoral Women’s Council, when summoned to Arusha Police Station to collect her passport, arrested illegally for three nights, taken to Loliondo, and added to the rather bizarre espionage and sabotage charges based on the accusation of having been in contact with me. Samwel and Supuk were also charged with being in possession of “government documents” (not classified, but “government”), and Clinton was as well charged with having talked about a “stupid government”. On 22 December 2016 60 days had passed since the last extension, and the plan was to file for dismissal, but as the magistrate chamber was full of police with handcuffs ready for re-arrest upon dismissal, the defence agreed to postpone until 19 January 2017 so that the prosecution could get more time for “investigation”. On 22 February 2017, the judge dismissed the case since it couldn’t go on forever and the prosecution had more than enough time to prepare something coherent. Then followed a very swift re-arrest and the victims of malicious prosecution had to report at Loliondo police station every Friday for months, until that was finally stopped, while the Office of the Public Prosecutor continued its “investigation”, the result of which has still not been revealed. Many people in Loliondo became very silent, and with the intimidation wave that started in May this year the silence became almost total. The people that were maliciously prosecuted in 2016 weren’t those that had shared most information with me, and some hadn’t even communicated for years, but that was not of interest to those who just wanted to silence anyone who could speak up about land grabbing investors.

If there are new readers who wonder what I am doing, it can all be seen here in this blog. I search for information about the land threats in Loliondo and share the information here. I suppose I’m used to build up a threating image of a dangerous foreigner. Another strategy is to accuse the Maasai of Loliondo of being “Kenyan”.

The Loliondo Maasai used to be somewhat organized and have stopped several attempts at alienating 1,500 km2 of grazing land that Otterlo Business Corporation that organizes hunting for Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai has lobbied the Tanzanian government to turn into a “protected area”. The current silence and fear is the greatest threat ever. This evil spell must be broken, starting with demanding the immediate release of Clinton and Ingrid.

Update 16/9:  THRDC named the orphanage Ingrid is working for as Upendo Orphanage Centre, which could be correct. There are however many orphanages called Upendo. I sent messages to some of them. Upendo Face Orphanage got a phone call from the Loliondo police, but said that they didn't know Ingrid, which could have complicated things. 

Update 17/9: Clinton and Ingrid were released today, without charges. 

Update 18/9: the Jamhuri published another delirious article claiming that Ingrid was arrested for "espionage". I'm yet to get hold of a photo that's readable. 

Update 20/9: there was a soberer article in the Guardian (TZ). Arusha regional police commander, Ramadhani Ng’anzi, claimed that police and immigration officers had a duty to act swiftly and decisively when receiving a tip-off. No, they don’t… The insanity of the servants of investors in Loliondo has been known for a long time, and nobody has a duty to uphold their police state. Quite the contrary. He also claimed a “striking similarity”. No, I’ve googled this Belgian lady and the only similarity is being white and middle aged.

Susanna Nordlund

Summary of developments of the past decades
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. By 2018 there does no longer seem to be journalists of any kind.

 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, the 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 destructive, “Kenyan” and governed by corrupt 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 calling for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism to intervene against the destructive Maasai. 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, 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 Loliondo leaders’ “only ally”, RC Gambo’s, committee started marking “critical areas” while being met with protests in every village. German development money that the standing committee had been told was subject to the alienation of the 1,500 km2 was – after protests by 600 women – not signed by the district chairman. On 21st March a compromise proposal for a WMA (that had been rejected in Loliondo for a decade and a half) was reached through voting by the RC’s committee, then handed over to PM Majaliwa on 20th April, and a long wait to hear the PM’s decision started.

While still waiting, on 13th August 2017 an unexpected illegal eviction and arson operation was initiated in the Oloosek area of Ololosokwan and then continued all the way to Piyaya. Beatings, arrests of the victims, illegal seizing of cows, and blocking of water sources followed. Women were raped by the rangers. Many leaders stayed strangely and disappointingly silent.

The DC and the Ministry of Natural Resources explained the illegal operation with that people and cattle were entering Serengeti National Park too easily, while Minister Maghembe lied that the land was already the “protected area” wanted by OBC and others.

There was an interim stop order by the government organ Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG), but the crimes continued unabated.
A case was filed by four villages in the East African Court of Justice on 21st September.
When in Arusha on 23rd September, President Magufuli collected protest placards against Maghembe, OBC and abuse, to read them later.
On 5th October the Kenyan opposition leader, Raila Odinga, (who had met with people from Loliondo) told supporters that his friend Magufuli had promised him that all involved in the illegal operation in Loliondo would be fired.

In a cabinet reshuffle on 7th October Maghembe was removed and Hamisi Kigwangalla appointed as new minister of Natural Resources and Tourism.

Kigwangalla stopped the operation on 26th October, and then made it clear that OBC’s hunting block would not be renewed, which he had already mentioned in Dodoma on the 22nd.  On 5th November, he fired the Director of Wildlife and announced that rangers at Klein’s gate that had been colluding with the investor would be transferred. Kigwangalla emphasized that OBC would have left before January. He talked about the corruption syndicate at their service, reaching into his own ministry, and claimed that OBC’s director, Mollel, wanted to bribe him, and would be investigated for corruption. However, OBC never showed any signs of leaving.

Kigwangalla announced in social media that he on 13th November received a delegation headed by the German ambassador and that the Germans were going to fund community development projects in Loliondo, “in our quest to save the Serengeti”. Alarm was raised in Loliondo that the district chairman would have signed secretly, which some already had suspected.

On 6th December, PM Majaliwa announced a vague, but terrifying decision to form a “special authority” to manage the 1,500 km2 osero. He also said that OBC would stay. Manyerere Jackton celebrated the decision in the Jamhuri newspaper. Further information and implementation of this “special authority” has fortunately been delayed, even if it was mentioned in Kigwangalla’s budget speech on 21st May.

Sheikh Mohammed, his crown prince, and other royal guests visited Loliondo in March 2018, and Kigwangalla welcomed them on Twitter. Earlier, in restricted access social media, Kigwangalla had been saying that OBC weren’t a problem, but only the director, Mollel, and that Loliondo, with the “new structure” needed more investors of the kind.

An ambitious report about Loliondo and NCA, with massive media coverage (and some unnecessary mistakes) was released by the Oakland Institute on 10th May 2018, and Kigwangalla responded by denying that any abuse had ever taken place, and threatening anyone involved with the report. He went as far as denying the existence of people in Loliondo GCA.

Currently there’s an intimidation campaign against the applicants in the case in the East African Court of Justice, and silence is worse than ever.

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