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land, livelihood and investment

Front Line Defenders condemns the continued harassment of land rights defenders in Kiryandongo

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Front Line Defenders condemns the continued harassment and arbitrary detention of land rights defenders in the Kiryandongo district, which appears to be part of a pattern of reprisals for their activities mobilising local communities to defend their land rights and oppose the forced evictions perpetrated by the private companies Agilis Partners, Great Season Company Limited and Kiryandongo Sugar Limited, which have been implementing farming projects in the area.

While land rights defenders Godfrey SsebisoloErias Wanjala and Fred Mwawula are awaiting trial on charges of trespassing on private land, other defenders opposing the illegal activities of the three companies in Kiryandongo are being subjected to arbitrary arrests, judicial harassment, violent attacks and intimidation.

On 25 March 2020, in Nyamuntende, company agents from Kiryandongo Sugar Limited accompanied by four Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) soldiers entered the property of land rights defender Richard David Otyaluk with a tractor belonging to the company and plowed through 4 acres of his maize field. When Richard David Otyaluk tried to stop the tractor from destroying the crops, the soldiers detained and beat him. When land rights defender James Olupoti tried to take photos of the perpetrators of the attack, he was beaten and detained as well. The soldiers reportedly shot live bullets near the defender’s leg and made death threats against him. The two land rights defenders were then taken to a compound housing UPDF soldiers and company workers, set up by Kiryandongo Sugar Limited in Ndoyo village. They were held there for seven hours before being transferred to Kiryandongo Police Station by the soldiers guarding the compound. The defenders remain in police custody without charges. As reported by their families, they have been severely beaten and are suffering from injuries as a result.

On 21 March 2020, in Kisalanda village, land rights defender William Katusiime was attacked and beaten by an Agilis Partners company agent and a guard from Saracen, a private security company hired by Agilis Partners. While patrolling the area, they physically and verbally abused the defender for refusing to leave his land. When he reported the incident to Kimogola Police Station, the police officers refused to open a case and referred him to Kiryandongo Police Station, saying that they had been ordered not to register complaints made against Agilis Partners.

On 22 March 2020, Sipiriano Baluma, a land rights defender from Jerusalem village, was arrested and detained at Kimogola Police Station when he was trying to lodge a complaint regarding the destruction of his crops. He was later transferred to Kiryandongo Police Station where he is currently detained without charges.

On 19 March 2020, Martin Haweka, another defender from Jerusalem village who has been pressured by Great Season Company Limited to leave his land, was arbitrarily arrested at Kimogola Police Station while trying to open a case regarding the destruction of his crops by Great Season Company Limited. He was charged with a minor offence and was presented before a court on 24 March. As he pleaded guilty to avoid a harsh punishment, he was sentenced to community service and released the same day.

Front Line Defenders remains extremely concerned by the continued targeting of land rights defenders in the Kiryandongo district for their peaceful work opposing forced evictions perpetrated by the companies Kiryandongo Sugar Limited, Agilis Partners and Great Season Company Limited. It urges the authorities in Uganda to immediately and unconditionally release the detained land rights defenders, provide them with appropriate medical attention, if necessary, and carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the physical abuse of Richard David Otyaluk and James Olupoti, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards. Front Line Defenders further calls on Kiryandongo Sugar Limited, Agilis Partners, Great Season Company Limited and the police and private security companies to cease the harassment of land rights defenders in Kiryandongo.

Source: Front-line Defenders

I write Human Rights

Industrial Park Development in Buikwe is dispossessing hundreds of Native Families…

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Structures of houses demolished by G.M Sugar in Namabere village, Buikwe District.

 

By witnessradio.org Team.

Buikwe – Uganda – Close to 1000 families in Namabere landing site, Buikwe District are forcefully being evicted off their land to give way for an industrial park, witnessradio.org has learned.

The industrial park which measures approximately 329.5 Ha, along the shores of Lake Victoria, is the brainchild of Magan Patel, the head of Nile Group of Companies. It is not clear whether the park authorities obtained the social and environmental impact assessment from environmental regulatory bodies as it is adjacent to the lake.

witnessradio.org findings indicate that so far the park has attracted about 26 companies amongst others include; Nile Agro Ltd; Nile Aluminum Ltd; Nile Batteries Ltd; Nile Wheat Ltd; Auro Meera Paper Ltd; Modern Distillers Ltd; Modern Laminates Ltd; Nile GM Plastics Ltd; Modern Rubber Ltd; and Cable Ltd and many others.

According to the affected persons, GM Sugar Company one of the companies targeting their land, since November 2020 with the help of Buikwe police has been forcing natives to receive payment in form of transport on a gunpoint to vacate the land. The payment ranges from 100,000 – 200,000 Ugandan shillings to residents of the area to vacate their land.

“Imagine at a gunpoint, someone is paid Uganda Shillings 100,000, his/her properties get destroyed and your forced to vacate where you earn a living. How do you feel? Do you know how hard this is?” angrily asked a 45-year-old Bayati Kafuuko.

Bayati, a mother of six (6) said that she has nowhere to go and left with nothing to feed her family since all her property was destroyed by the armed men.

“What can that money do, it can’t even meet transport costs,” added Bayati.
Several affected persons revealed that before the eviction, there was neither consultation and concession to the project nor valuation and fair compensation of their property.

“Ever since the attack started we live in fear, we cannot sleep because most of our houses were pulled down. All our fish was taken by soldiers, we have nothing to eat,” said a 58-year-old Francis Obiire.

He added that he cannot accept being illegally evicted on land he has lived on since his birth.
“My father has lived on this land since 1950. I was born here in 1962. With this little money, which land do they expect me to buy,” Obiire added.

The chairman of Namabere village Mr. Ochen Peter said his people are being intimidated without due process is followed. He further said that workers of the investors under the protection of police carry out daily patrolling of the area just to intimidate residents.

When witnessradio.org contacted Ssekamatte Musa, one of the GM Sugar company managers, he declined to speak.

“I am busy, I will call you,” he said.

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Beijing proposes seven-point plan for upgrading China-Africa cooperation

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African leaders at the FOCA meeting in 2018

Chato, Tanzania | XINHUA |  The 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has achieved great success and become a new monument to China-Africa friendly cooperation, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Friday.

Wang made the remarks at a joint press conference here with Tanzanian Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Palamagamba Kabudi during his official visit to the African country.

Wang noted that over the past two years, China has fully implemented the eight major initiatives with African countries proposed at the Beijing Summit.

Cooperation in areas of industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, health care, people-to-people exchange, and peace and security have been carried out in a comprehensive way, he said, adding that the overall implementation rate has exceeded 70 percent.

Noting that China-Africa cooperation on the “Belt and Road” is progressing smoothly, Wang said over 1,100 cooperation projects continue to operate during the epidemic.

Meanwhile, nearly 100,000 Chinese technical and engineering personnel also stick to their posts to coordinate and promote epidemic prevention and control as well as resume work and production, making important contributions to local economic and social development.

The friendship between Chinese and African people has continued to grow and the two sides have established 11 pairs of new sister cities, bringing the total number to 150, said Wang,

Furthermore, the China-Africa Institute has been inaugurated, a number of Confucius Institutes have been set up in Africa and exchanges in sectors of sports, health, tourism and youths between the two sides have yielded fruitful results, Wang added.

Wang noted that despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will not stop China and Africa from moving forward together. The two sides are scheduled to hold a new session of the FOCAC in Senegal later this year.

“China is ready to enhance communication with our African friends and we will carefully design the outcomes of the meeting and upgrade China-Africa cooperation based on the new situation, new needs and new opportunities of China-Africa cooperation,” said Wang.

A seven-point plan for upgrading of China-Africa cooperation is also proposed by Wang.

  • –China will strengthen health cooperation, work together with Africa to completely defeat the epidemic, help Africa enhance its capacity to prevent and respond to major diseases, and jointly build a “Healthy Africa”.
  • –China will enhance production capacity cooperation and upgrade China-Africa project cooperation to a more clustered, large-scale, industrialized and localized scale. China will help Africa raise its capacity for independent production and jointly build a “Made in Africa”.
  • –China will strengthen regional connectivity, explore China-Africa free trade cooperation, and help Africa enhance internal infrastructure connectivity, unimpeached trade and financial integration so as to jointly build an “Inter-connected Africa”.
  • –China will strengthen agricultural cooperation, carry out cooperation in grain production, storage and transportation, help Africa strengthen its food security and guarantee capability to jointly build a “Harvest Africa”.
  • –China will strengthen digital cooperation, give full play to China’s technological advantages, help Africa seize the opportunity of the information revolution and jointly build a “Digital Africa”.
  • –China will carry out environmental protection cooperation, practice the concept of sustainable development, help Africa improve its ability to cope with climate change and jointly build a “Green Africa”.
  • –China will strengthen military security cooperation, promote political solutions of critical issues in Africa, help Africa enhance its peacekeeping and anti-terrorism capabilities, and jointly build a “Safe Africa”.

Wang also expressed confidence that with the joint efforts of both sides and under the guidance of the forum mechanism, China-Africa cooperation will continue to bear fruits and make greater contribution to the building of a closer China-Africa community with a shared future.

****

XINHUA

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land, livelihood and investment

Trauma and wounds caused by evictions in Kiryandongo still fresh three years down the road…

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By witnessradio.org Team

Kiryandongo-Uganda -Anna Maria Mukabariyanga a mother of four is one of the people that have tested the wrath of Kiryandongo Sugar Limited. It’s one of the multinational companies that have evicted over 35000 people to pave way for different projects

Mukabariyanga a resident of ranch 23 was attacked by security operatives of Kiryandongo Sugar, beaten, and thrown out of her house on the fateful night that left many homeless.

She was pregnant and in the process, she had a miscarriage.

“I was 8 months pregnant when the armed operatives attacked us, beat me up on the back. My husband was away and had no one to come to my rescue. I was thrown down by one of the evictors who continued beating me,” Says Anna Maria Mukabariyaga.

“In five days, I started bleeding but could not go to the hospital because I did not have money and later on I lost my lost child. However, I was later taken to Kiryandongo Hospital by neighbors in the area I had moved to”. She adds.

Such violent repression is the tale of villagers in Kiryandongo who were never consulted or given information privy to the eviction.

“I heard notices over the radio that, people should prepare to have their land valued for compensation but that did not trickle down to us in form of meetings”. Said 78-year old Bakaikara Edward, a resident of Kakoba village, Kitwala Sub County in Kiryandongo district.

Bakaikara says, the advert ran for two months and later evictions started.

“I was born and raised on this land by the late Kamiri Kajula. My siblings and I have been staying here since childhood. They cultivated and lived on 400 hectares as a family”. He narrates.

“I had also developed the land as a farmer, but all crops were destroyed, I have nothing to feed the family on.” He added.

“Our hearts are broken. Our children are not going to school and we do not have food. We are very angry and hungry too,” Another resident only identified as Joyce chorused in as Mr. Bakaikara told his story.

Before the agribusiness companies came in, Badudu and the other small farmers of Kiryandongo planted beans, maize, sweet potatoes, bananas, groundnuts, cassava, and mangoes, and reared pigs, goats, and cows.

Much of their former land is now occupied by sugarcane, coffee, soya, and maize which are all solely exported for profits.

Joseph Walekula one of the community leaders in Kiryandongo says, many people have been turned into beggars and reduced to working on land that they used to own.

“When Kiryandongo sugar company limited came in, people lost their land, no due compensation was done. Many people joined refugee camps where they live up to now, others ran away, and we don’t know where they are.” Says Mr. Walekula.

This is all happening under the watch of government bodies and security agencies like Police that have instead turned against the communities in defense of the investors.

Kiryandongo Sugar is owned by the Rai dynasty operating agribusiness and timber activities in DR Congo, Uganda, Kenya, and Malawi. One of its directors is a shareholder of a British Virgin Islands company, which was listed in the Panama Papers database

It arrived in 2017, owns about 2400 hectares of sugarcane plantation project in Kiryandongo, and one of the three multinational projects that have continuously evicted people in the area.

Others are the; Great Season SMC Limited, a Dubai-based company reportedly owned by Sudanese businessmen building a coffee plantation on 1,165 hectares, and Agilis Partners, a company owned by US businessmen and backed by several foreign development agencies and “social impact” investors establishing a large-scale grains farm on around 3,850 hectares.

 

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