Rights groups condemn Tanzanian police violence against Maasai | News

Activists say at least 31 people were seriously injured when violence broke out over 1,500 square kilometers of land.

Human rights groups have accused Tanzanian police of using violence to evict members of the Masaai indigenous community in Loliondo, Ngorongoro district, in the north of the country.

Activists said at least 31 people were seriously injured on June 10 when security forces began planning to evict and demarcate the 1,500 square kilometer land that is being allocated by the government for conservation activities.

The nomadic Maasai people consider the area, on the outskirts of the Serengeti National Park, to be ancestral land essential for their livelihoods of raising livestock and providing food for the community. A change in its status would mean banning human activities or settlements there.

In a statement on Monday, the strong African Commission on Human Rights condemn case, urges the government to stop further deportations and launch an independent investigation.

It also emphasizes the need to “ensure that any conservation measures are taken in full collaboration with the involvement of affected communities”.

According to a statement announced by the Forest Peoples Program on behalf of local Maasai community representatives, authorities are “grossly occupying” the land, despite a pending lawsuit in the East African Court of Justice . It also said about 700 people had fled the violence and at least nine community leaders had been detained in unspecified locations.

[Handout/Forest Peoples Programme via Al Jazeera]
Activists say 31 people were seriously injured when police fired tear gas and live bullets [Handout/Forest Peoples Programme via Al Jazeera]

Witnesses told the organization that about 700 policemen visited the area on June 7, and violence broke out three days later after members of the Maasai community were attacked by police for spitting out beacons has been set to demarcate the area.

Video on social media showed Maasai running away as police fired tear gas and bullets. Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify the source of the videos.

The Indigenous and Communities Conserved Areas and Territories (ICCA) also said the government was acting “intentionally to make way for a game reserve hunted by a tourism business”. firing operation”.

But government spokesman Gerson Msigwa denied any further evictions, saying that police officers were demarcating the area as part of an earlier agreement with the local community to keep a portion of the land inhabited. and allocate the remainder to conservation activities.

“We are going to reserve the area and unfortunately people are going against this,” Msigwa said.

Msigwa also said violence broke out when villagers attacked police, killing one officer.

In February, eight United Nations special rapporteurs in a report expressed their concerns about the government’s reported plans for resettlement, forced displacement and house demolition, projecting The ant is expected to affect about 82,000 people in Ngorongoro by 2027.

“If pursuing these schemes would endanger their cultural and material existence in the name of ‘conservation of nature’, ignoring the close relationship that the Maasai have traditionally had with the land , their territories and resources and their management role in the protection of biodiversity”. read report.

Yannick Ndoinyo, a Maasai leader who spoke to Al Jazeera on Tuesday from the Kenyan capital Nairobi, said the government is taking the land using conservation claims, but not consulting the community.

He said the community presented a plan to the government on how to jointly conserve the area but did not receive any response.

“The government should take the community’s recommendations very seriously and stop this activity so they can open a dialogue on how to solve this problem together,” Ndoinyo said. “But overall the community needs this land … to survive.”

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