The African Commission’s working group on indigenous populations in Africa (WGIP) has thrown its weight behind efforts to ensure that justice prevails in the alleged evictions and destruction of property of Maasai pastoral communities within the Loliondo Game Controlled Area in Ngorongoro District.
Concerned about the alleged violation of human rights in Loliondo, WGIP has pleaded with President Jakaya Kikwete to intervene in the saga to ensure that the allegations are thoroughly investigated.
The plea comes at a time when the parliamentary committee on land, natural resources and environment is also set to probe reports on human rights violations during the eviction operation in Loliondo.
We appeal to members of the parliamentary committee to exercise impartiality when probing the saga, as there are reports that the suspected culprits are already making arm-twisting attempts.
According to the Executive Director of the Arusha-based Pastoralists Indigenous Non-Governmental Organization (PINGO’s Forum), Edward Porokwa, the ‘malicious and ruthless’ operation to evict Maasai communities has affected at least eight villages in the Loliondo Division, leaving more than 6,000 people in unimaginable distress and utter poverty.
If it’s true that some innocent pastoralists in the area lost their lives while others were tortured and wrongfully prosecuted, then something must be done urgently to let justice take its course.
We are dismayed by these reports of human rights violations and would like to join hands with WGIP and local human rights activists who are pressing for prosecution of all culprits involved in the alleged evictions.
At the same time, we totally support a move by local human rights activists to file criminal and civil cases against the government on behalf of affected Maasai pastoral communities.
All human rights activists should join hands and see to it that stern legal measures are taken against all those involved in the uncouth exercise.
We believe that there is sufficient evidence to prove that what was done in Loliondo was purely a criminal offence. A civil case should also be filed to seek compensation for property which was destroyed during the operation.
Among other things, the investigations should also dwell on reports that Ortello Business Corporation influenced the operation on claims that the local communities were destroying the environment through cutting of trees and farming activities.