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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Stop the Attacks against Indigenous Maasai! Defend Our Right to Land!

On June 7, around 700 police forces, military, and other paramilitary groups began the violent evictions of the Maasai Indigenous Peoples (IP) from their lands in the Loliondo Division of the Ngorongoro District. 

The Tanzanian government plans to demarcate a 1,500 sq. km. as a Game Reserve, a hunting park leased to wildlife hunting firm Otterlo Business Corporation owned by Dubai Royals. This planned demarcation of lands will displace over 70,000 Indigenous Maasai and 200,000 of their livestock as it will prohibit habitation and other human activities on these lands, uprooting the pastoralist Maasai communities from their ancestral homes. 

The Maasai Peoples organized community meetings to deliberate on the matter. However, the police invaded these meetings and arrested community leaders, councilors, and district chairs, who they detained in unknown locations. 

Last June 9, Maasai communities gathered in several areas, including Ololosokwan and Kirtalo, to protest the police invasion and remove the beacons illegally installed by the police on their lands. These beacons are to demarcate these ancestral lands into a gaming reserve area. That same day, the police and military began shooting teargas and live bullets on Indigenous men and women, including the elderly. Around 31 people have suffered from gunshot wounds, with critical injuries from the shooting. 

The police and paramilitary groups shot the Maasai Peoples using live bullets, beat them, and burned down their homes. Around 300 Maasai, mostly women, children, and the elderly, are now hiding in forests with little to no food, water, or protection from the harsh weather and wild animals. 

The incident is but another attempt by the Tanzanian government to evict the Maasai communities from their land in Loliondo. In 2009, 2013, and 2017, the Tanzanian government made multiple attempts to evict the Maasai through illegal military operations, including arson, mass beatings, rape, torture, and other cases of grave human rights violations. 

The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) strongly condemns these violent attacks. No one deserves to be displaced from their lands, especially IP land and environment stewards, just for the interests of the few.

International Solidarity 

We are in a land-grabbing emergency on a global scale. In many cases of ancestral land grabbing, the state through policies and laws and its military, government forces, and paramilitary groups enable private and corporate land grabs leading to forcible eviction, killing, harassment, criminalization, and vilification of Indigenous Peoples and our land defenders.

In the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh, the military pressures, threats, surveillance, and censors the media against the Mro people resisting the construction of the Five Star Marriott Hotel and amusement park in Mro lands. During the pandemic, the government of Zimbabwe moved to forcibly evict the Chilonga Indigenous People from their almost 13,000-hectare land to serve the interest of the president’s cronies engaged in farming business and mining. 

Multinational firms supported by the military and police seizing enormous swaths of land and government-sponsored transmigration schemes to work in palm oil, logging, mining, and other natural resource investments are big concerns in West Papua. Last week, Philippine police violently arrested 92 farmers and their advocates for conducting a collective tilling activity on lands the government distributed to them under its land reform program.

Fight For Our Land

Land grabbing enables local elites, governments, imperialist powers, and multinational companies to monopolize the world’s resources under the current system, which profits from violating people’s rights. Under the guise of so-called “development,” land grabbing and ancestral land encroachment dislocates communities and destroys local livelihood, culture, identity, and ways of life.

Let us stand and hold governments and corporations accountable for their crimes against Indigenous Peoples and every land and environmental defender. Our fight for our right to land is a fight for a better future. 

The Tanzanian government must immediately cease evicting the Maasai from their ancestral land, respect the Maasai people’s right to self-determination, and recognize their land rights, territories, and resources.

Stop the attacks against the Maasai people!

Justice for all the Maasai victims of brutality and violence!

Defend ancestral lands!

Struggle for self-determination!

Fight for Our Rights! 

Fight for Our Lands!


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