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Situation of Maasai in Loliondo and Sale in Tanzania dangerous and desperate

According to reliable information received by IWGIA, all village executive officers of the villages affected by government eviction orders were summoned on 24 June to the District Executive Director’s office, where they were instructed to tell the residents of their villages to move out within 24 hours as part of a hurried land grab.

On 17 June, the 1,500 km2 of village land was abruptly gazetted as a Game Controlled Area without following required legal procedure. Several military camps were established in the area, allegedly with orders to remove any Maasai remaining, and as encouragement to the exercise, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa visited the military camps the day before the evictions began.

The land the Maasai people are being evicted from is legally registered village land. The land dispossession and forced evictions are in violation of international law as well as land legislation in Tanzania. Professor Issa Shivji, School of Law, University of Dar es Salaam, in an open letter to Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan provides a compelling legal analysis of this.


Read the 13 June IWGIA Urgent Alert on the land grab, evictions and violence


Detained and in hiding

Already a week before, on 9 June, district councillors were detained, unable to contact family or lawyers until seven days later on 16 June, when they were charged with murder. Seven village chairmen have also been imprisoned.

Civil society leaders have fled to neighbouring Kenya or have gone into hiding, and more than 2,100 community members have also fled to Kenya where they are living under difficult circumstances. Among those who have fled are those who have been wounded by gunfire and need hospital care, but they are afraid of going to local Tanzanian hospitals where they may be arrested.

Throughout the district, authorities continue to imprison local people.

On 30 June, the case involving 25 Loliondo residents charged with murder, including 9 district councillors, was postponed to 14 July. Additionally, the case at the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) filed in 2017 against the Government of Tanzania over a previous eviction operation, which was supposed to be heard on 22 June, has been postponed to September.  

Multiple human rights violations continue

Human rights violations have been committed, including torture, illegal imprisonment, shooting and wounding people, killing and maiming livestock, destroying property, and forced evictions and land dispossession, despite vocal condemnation by the international community and numerous civil society organisations and coalitions. 

On 13 June, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) strongly condemned the violence and urged the government to halt the eviction and open an independent investigation.

On 15 June, nine United Nations Special Rapporteurs called on the Tanzanian government to “immediately halt plans for relocation of the people living in Loliondo and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area".

On 19 June, the  International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) issued a statement on the human rights violations in Loliondo, sharing that it was “deeply concerned by reports of violence by security forces against Maasai Indigenous Peoples in the Loliondo Division".

Tags: Land rights

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IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending indigenous peoples’ rights. Read more.

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