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Natives and Businesses

A multi billion tree planting investment in Mubende district is silently shattering lives of native land owners

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combinedThe land is covering 10 villages including Butoro, Kyedikyo, Nakasozi, Namayindi, Kitebe, Kisiigwa, Mukiguluka,Busaabala and Kicucuulo located both in Maduddu and Butoloogo sub-counties, Mubende district.

After winning support from the local leadership and security agencies, they started tormenting indigenous land owners. Since 2011 without prior notice to native communities, the company through its agents and casual workers have committed violence, harassment, torture, and alleged gang rape of women committed by Casual workers of the company. Also, the same local communities have faced rejection and neglect from their own leaders at both national and district levels.

Unlawful arrest and detention of influential persons in the community on trumped up charges. These violations have occurred with the complicity of civic leaders including Resident District Commissioner and police officers who are usually seen in the company of the perpetrators.

Formasa was introduced to natives communities’ land by then Mubende District Resident Commissioner Florence Beyunga who deliberately refused a due process to take its course before eviction exercise started, but rather hired and imported casual laborers from western Uganda district of Kisoro that are used to carryout violent evictions and land cultivation.

Ever since the company evaded the said land, no registration of bonafide occupants, no valuation exercise to ascertain what was owned by natives has been carried out neither adequate compensation given to victims.

What’s happening is that workers of the company invade and cut down people’s gardens without consent from bonafide land owners. When land owners complain and report such matters to area police, nothing is done to stop company workers. If a native land owner is lucky, senior workers invite such a person to a meeting and name the price of the destroyed garden. The price is decided by workers and no negotiation is allowed. Natives at this process get intimidated, coerced to sign documents, which they (communities) are not allowed to read and then forced to take whatever amount of money is offered. Once this process is done in most times, properties like houses and produce stores get burnt on that very night of the day payment was made and fruit trees as well as indigenous trees get cut down in subsequent days.

Some of the victims had lived on the land since the nineteenth century even before the 1900 Uganda Agreement that shared up the Buganda Land between the British colonialists and the Buganda Kingdom at the time.

Natives and Businesses

Fresh violence in Kiryandongo as a project affected family head narrowly survived death

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By witnessradio.org Team

Kiryandongo – Uganda – families that lost their land to multinationals and currently trapped in the middle of the plantations have begun a year with fresh attacks from allegedly their evictors.

Batumbya Charles, 61, a resident of Kikungulu village, Kitwala parish in Kiryandongo district is the first victim of fresh violence since 2021 started.

Batumbya, a father of 15, whose land is in the middle of the sugarcane plantations owned by Kiryandongo Sugar Limited was attacked from his home on a previous Sunday at 8:00 PM by two unidentified plain-clothed men who were armed with pangas and batons.

Kiryandongo Sugar Limited together with Agilis Partners Limited and Great Season SMC Limited are forcefully and violently evicting more than 35,000 inhabitants to give way for agribusiness projects.

Since 2017 when the evictions started, communities have complained about acts of violence meted against them by multinational companies from sexual and gender-based violence against women, defilement, torture, beating, kidnap to illegal arrest and detention among others.

“I was at home alone after my wife traveled with all the children to my in-laws. In the evening I was inside my house and I heard the noise of someone who had fallen down. So, I rushed to open the door to check what was happening. As soon I opened the door, two men forced themselves into my house. I was arrested, pushed down and no sooner I fell down than the attackers started beating me” Narrated Batumbya.

Speaking from his hospital bed, Batumbya further said that in the process, he tried to defend himself but he got overpowered by the attackers and started cutting his body parts using a panga.

“I have since lost my four-finger of my right arm to the attackers and now nursing wounds,” said, Batumbya.

Families living in the middle of plantations said they are vulnerable to attacks from multinational companies as violence is the order of the day.

They accuse multinational companies of intimidation and forcing them to receive as little as Uganda Shillings 150,000 equivalent to US Dollar 40 as compensation and when one refuses, such conduct is deemed disrespectful by investors and attracts serious beating.

“We suspect investors are responsible for the attack of Batumbya since we are in the middle of the plantations. They have tried to evict us and we are resisting, no one else is torturing us apart from them”, said one Mesarch Kagina a resident of Kikungulu.

However, the newly deployed Kiryandongo District Police Commander, SP Odonga Tonny, pleased to work with all stakeholders including communities to end the violence.

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Livelihood

The criminal trial of 8 land rights defenders flops for the fourth time

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A photo of 8 land rights defenders from right Ramu, Ndahimana, Amos Wafula, Martin Haweka, Martin Munyansia, Eliot Talemwa, Samuel Kusiima, George Rwakabisha and Fred Mwawula, at court.

By witnessradio.org Team.

Kiryandongo – Uganda – the criminal trial of 8 land defenders in Kiryandongo has failed to take off for the fourth time following the transfer of the trial magistrate.

On 20th December 2020, the Judiciary reshuffled its officers, and Kiryandongo Grade 1 magistrate Augustine Alule was transferred and replaced with His Worship Derrick Byamugisha.

According to the reshuffle notice, the new magistrate Byamugisha who was scheduled to report to his duty station immediately, the trial day got him handing over to his successor, which caused the fourth adjournment.

Fred Mwawula, Ramu Ndahimana, Samuel Kusiima, Martin Munyansia, Martin Haweka, Amos Wafula, Eliot Talemwa, and George Rwakabisha are accused of threatening violence, a charge which carries a punishment of four (4) years on conviction.

The prosecution alleges that on September 4th, 2020 the eight and others at large while at Kisalanda, threatened to harm a police officer and workers of Great Season SMC limited.

However, on October 16, 2020, the prosecution informed the court that investigations were done and the prosecutor’s chambers were ready to proceed with the trial.

Before the illegal arrest and detention and prosecution of the 8 defenders, NGOs including Witness Radio – Uganda, GRAIN, and Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa released a Kiryandongo report “land grabs at gun point”, which exposed gross human rights violations and abuses committed by security agencies and 3 multinationals against communities. The motive for persecution is regarded as retaliation from district security agencies and multinational companies pinned in the report.

The defenders believe that the charges brought against them are linked to their human rights work of mobilizing and empowering communities to legally resist the forceful and violent evictions.

The next trial is scheduled for 24th February 2021.

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Livelihood

The criminal trial of 8 land rights defenders is set to take off tomorrow

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By Witnessradio.org Team

Kiryandongo – Uganda – the criminal trial of the 8 land rights defenders is set to start tomorrow December 15th, 2020, at 10 am at Kiryandongo Magistrate’s court. This follows after the flop of the November trial due to the absence of the magistrate.

Fred Mwawula, Ramu Ndahimana, Samuel Kusiima, Martin Munyansia, Martin Haweka, Amos Wafula, Eliot Talemwa, and George Rwakabisha are facing a prison sentence of four years upon conviction of threatening violence charge.

The prosecution alleges that on September 4th, 2020 the eight and others at large while at Kisalanda, threatened to harm one of the police officers guarding Great Season SMC limited’s plantation.

On November 12, 2020, the prosecution made the disclosure and informed the court that investigations were done and the prosecutor’s chambers were ready to proceed to trial.

Before the illegal arrest and prosecution of the 8 defenders, NGOs including Witness Radio – Uganda, GRAIN, and Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa released a Kiryandongo report “landgrabs at gunpoint”, which exposed gross human rights violations and abuses committed by security agencies and 3 multinationals against communities. The motive for persecution is regarded as retaliation from district security agencies and multinational companies pinned in the report.

The defenders believe that the charges brought against them are linked to their human rights work of mobilizing and empowering communities to legally resist the forceful and violent evictions.

 

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