Dar es Salaam. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights said Monday that it is “gravely concerned” that the forcibly uprooting of the affected communities in Ngorongoro entails grave danger to various rights of the members of the communities, including their rights to life, property, culture, family, existence and natural resources.
In a statement, commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso said that the commission has been receiving reports of police “using force to uproot the Maasai from their ancestral land in the Loliondo division of the Ngorongoro district,” injuring at least 31 people; “an act which is strongly condemned by the commission.”
“The commission wishes to recall that it sent a letter of urgent appeal in February 2022 to President Samia Suluhu Hassan, which drew her attention, among others, to the human rights requirements that evictions are only carried out as a last resort after all alternatives to eviction have been explored, and that all evictions comply with international and regional standards,” Mr Dersso said in the statement.
Mr Dersso cautioned that not only should the members of the affected community be fully consulted, but also their consent should be sought and obtained.
Among other things, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights wants Tanzania to “halt the ongoing forcible eviction of the affected Maasai community in the Loliondo division of Ngorongoro district,” the statement noted.
The commission also wants the government to “urgently open independent investigations into the violence occasioned since the start of the ongoing forcible eviction of the affected communities and ensure full and effective reparations to address the harm suffered by victims, on any loss of property.”
Tanzania should also ensure that any measures for the implementation of the conservation area are carried out in full collaboration with and participation of the affected communities, the commission pointed out.
This includes with guarantees for secure access to and use of resources on the affected territory by the members of the community, the commission added.
The government of Tanzania has been facing criticism lately for its attempt to rid the Ngorongoro conservation area of its native people, which include those from the Maasai tribe.
Last week, police reportedly used live bullets to disperse community members in the Ololosokwan village in Loliondo who were protesting the erection of beacons to demarcate 1,500 km2 of village land that authorities want to be turned into a protected area.
The government said that the exercise seeks to evict nobody and it only aims at protecting the area used for wildebeest migration and animal reproduction from human and livestock activities, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa told lawmakers.
Despite Mr Majaliwa’s insistence that there was no fighting going on in Loliondo, tragic photos and videos have been circulating on social media since Friday, showing the native people reeling from injuries.
Some videos showed Maasai people running from what appeared to be the firing of tear gas canisters. A total of 10 native people from the Ololosokwan village were confirmed to have been injured by Friday evening, according to a list of injured people that circulated online.