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More than 70,000 Indigenous Maasai people are at risk of being evicted from their ancestral grazing lands to make way for a tourism operation after a paramilitary group arrived on 7 June in the Maasai town of Loliondo, in Arusha Region of Northern Tanzania, to implement the authorities’ plans to seize the ancestral and registered land of the Maasai people. On 9 June, community members began to protest the demarcation but were met with force by security officers, who used teargas and firearms against the protestors. 25 community members were arrested and have since been charged with conspiracy to commit the murder of a police officer. The authorities must end the security operation in Loliondo, immediately release the arrested persons and suspend any ongoing land acquisition plans.
On 7 June, a security operation consisting of around 700 people, mostly police, park rangers, military and other security forces, arrived at Loliondo to implement the authorities’ plans to seize 1500 square kilometres of the communal land of the Maasai people. On 9 June, soldiers used force to disperse community members in four villages (Ololosokwan, Oloirien, Kirtalo and Arash) who had gathered to protest the demarcation exercise by removing the beacons that the security had placed marking the boundaries of the land that the Maasai lay claim to. According to two eyewitnesses, security forces started shooting at the protesters with firearms and also used teargas. Many sustained injuries, some bullet wounds.
Before the day of the protest, around 20 members of the Maasai community, some village elders, were arbitrarily arrested for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Ten of them as they were meeting to discuss state plans to demarcate the parcel of land. On 16 June they were falsely charged with the murder of a policeman. They were arrested even before the policeman was killed. The statement of offence has since been amended four times to be conspiracy to murder, while also adding five persons to the list of accused persons.
The demarcation of the Maasai’s land happened contrary to the court orders by the East African Court of Justice. Furthermore, eviction from their ancestral lands in the absence of their free prior and informed consent will violate their human rights and will take away their livelihoods and impact their traditional way of life. Police force caused serious injury and risked the lives of the Maasai community members.
Write to the President urging him to:
- suspend the proposals for the development of the Maasai lands until the Maasai community has given their free, prior and informed consent through a meaningful consultation process and to ensure an effective investigation into the use of force against protesters
- order the immediate release of 25 Maasai community members detained for their peaceful participation in the anti-eviction protests and drop the charges against them
President Suluhu Samia Hassan
Utumishi Street, P.O. BOX 670,
Salutation: Your Excellency:
His Excellency Mpoki Mwasumbi Ulisubisya
High Commission for the United Republic of Tanzania
50 Range Road
Ottawa, ON K1N 8J4
Fax: 613 232 5184
Loliondo is a division in Tanzania’s northern Ngorongoro district, in the Arusha region. It borders Serengeti National Park to the west, Ngorongoro Conservation Area to the south, and Kenya to the north. More than 70,000 Indigenous Maasai people are at risk of being displaced from their ancestral grazing lands to make way for a tourism operation. People are being evicted from their communal land as demarcation is ongoing despite a pending case at the East Africa Court of Justice. In 1992 the Tanzanian government leased the whole of the Loliondo division as a hunting block to a company from the United Arab Emirates.
The recent security forces operation is the fourth attempt to evict the Indigenous Maasai people who are pastoralists from 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 community members 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 ceases from evicting the Maasai Indigenous people until the determination of a case that the community had filed against the state was completed. Nearly two weeks after the demarcation operation had already begun and the security forces were deployed to Loliondo, the court issued a notice of adjournment and postponed the delivery of its judgment to the September 2022 session.
The arrested persons include: Molongo Daniel Paschal, Albert Kiseya Selembo, Simeli Parmwati, Lekayoko Parmwati, Sapati Parmwati Sirikoti, Ingoi Olkedenyi Kanjwel, Sangau Morongeti Ngiminiso, Morijoi Ngoisa Parmati, Morongeti Meeki Masako, Kamabatai Lulu, Moloimeti Yohana Saing’EU, Ndirango Senge Laisier, Joel Clemes Lessonu, Simon Naiam Orosikiria, Damiani Rago Laiza, Mathew Kursas Njausi, Taleng’o Twambei Leshoko, Kijoolu Kakenya Olojiloji, Shengena Joseph Killel, Kelvin Shaso Nairoti, Lekerenga, Fred Victor, Wilson Tiuwa Kilong, James Memusi Taki and 5 others.
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