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Kaweri coffee investment shatters the dreams of a budding businessman.



By Witness Radio Team

Mr. Lawrence Sekirigi, 76 is one of the thousands of smallholder farmers in Mubende whose dreams of blossoming life were fluttered by the infamous Kaweri Coffee Plantation development.  He is a teary one that represents a million Ugandans who have been disposed of or are on the verge of being disposed of.

Acreages of plantations of maize, cassava, potatoes, beans, groundnuts, and bananas that sprouted on his 16 acres of land in the early 2000s painted the right picture of Lawrence’s passion and love for farming.

Ruggedly handsome, fairly aged, and a smooth dark chocolate-colored man with a farming family background adopted the income-generating activity in his youthful stages after dropping out of school for lack of school fees. Armed with an inheritance of 16 acres curved from 40 acres of family land, he ventured into farming earning him Uganda Shillings Five Million, roughly (1,290.47 United States Dollars) in a season.

The past good memories still linger in his mind. With his lifetime inheritance, he grew a variety of crops that he could sell and earn a living and feed his family. To him, growth was the question of “when” but not “whether”. He had a dream of expanding his enterprise and becoming a household name in modern farming.

“My harvests were always in plenty because of good soils and other related factors. My dreams were definitely to grow bigger in business than I was, with many stores supplying both grains and food countrywide. I was one of the richest men here in Kitemba. I achieved this through farming” he narrates with a nostalgic tone.

Those days are now gone but cannot be wished away. As a selfless businessman, he supplied grains and food to hotels in Mubende, Kaweri Prison, restaurants, and Madudu production farm all based in Mubende district before government soldiers and anti-riot police grabbed his land for Kaweri Coffee Investment.

Kaweri coffee plantation farm is owned by Germany-based Neumann Kaffee Gruppe, which according to its website, has 49 companies and with presence in 27 countries. It operates large-scale coffee plantations in Kitemba, Luwunga, Kijunga, and Kiryamakobe villages in Mubende District, Central Uganda.

On a fateful day in 2001, the Ugandan bulldozers under the watch of the army and anti-riot police began moving into the settlements of villagers in Kaweri to clear the area for coffee growing. Property worth millions and cultural sites belonging to residents were razed by the army. This happened with no prior consultations, compensation, or resettlements.

When we visited Lawrence at his new home in Luwunga where he relocated, the toothless, and grey-haired man sat between the muddy kitchen and a house with old iron sheets. Clad in a dirty-pink-like squared shirt and black denim trousers munched away on sweet potatoes and yams mixed with beans.

It was 4:45 pm and now it was coming to dusk.  He murmured something to my ears. He revealed how his family has been forced to ration food to survive. They survive on a meal a day. He looked weary, hopeless, and worried. The land grab has left a huge scar in his life.

Lawrence is not alone. Barely two decades later, many people, are living desperate lives. The so-called Kaweri coffee developments rendered many of them homeless, landless, or even useless in their own country.

Thousands of people are scattered everywhere trying to find ends meet for their families. They leave in temporary settlements of muddy houses, and makeshifts in areas where they settled. Others work at the farms of Kaweri coffee to bring food to the plate for their families. However, their payment is low depending on the work they do. They earn 5100 shillings a day equivalent to 1.33 USD upon the completion of the assigned task. If one does not complete the task in a day, he is not paid till he completes it, the next day.

“Most of my friends are suffering, they don’t have where to live, a cause brought about by Kaweri Coffee. People were well before this meaning less development brought by the government.” Ssekirigi added.

“My dreams were completely brought to an end. I am currently staying on land provided to me by a friend. I have nothing in life, and cannot fulfill my responsibilities as a man. I also wanted my 16 children to get the best education which I did not get but this was also not possible.” He shares with regret.

He added that “what hurts me most is that my father and mother plus other relatives buried on our grabbed land were destroyed by the bulldozers during the evictions. A total of 48 graveyards were destroyed. They did not allow us to exhume and transfer our beloved ones who had occupied the grabbed land in the 1930s. My crops, animals including 4pigs, 4 cows and 12 birds were looted by officers, and 32 iron sheets house were destroyed during the hurried and forced evictions.”

Roughly, 4000 smallholder farmers were evicted without prior consultation, compensation, and resettlement by the Ugandan government. The government claimed it had bought land from the landlord Emmanuel Bukko Kayiwa.

The government which leased Kaweri 2512 hectares of land forcefully evicted residents and told them that they would be resettled on another piece of land equivalent in size to the land that each had.

However, Kaweri said the government compensated all those residents who were willing to vacate the land. A brief account of events by Kaweri coffee plantation that Witness Radio has had the opportunity to see indicates that some people were compensated by the government and the rest were relocated.

“In addition, Kaweri demanded to see receipts of the compensation payments as a precondition. These receipts were all produced: each compensation is documented and signed by the recipient, the village leader, the Resident District Commissioner, and the lawyers of the buyer and seller. The compensation comprised either allocation of new plots of land and free transport to the new plot of land or monetary compensation. Overall, compensation in the form of land was provided to 102 families. Another 64 families were given monetary compensation because they did not live in the area but did farmland.” it reads in part.

Witness Radio contacted the Managing Director of Kaweeri coffee, Mr. Etienne Jacobsz Steyn to clarify the eviction. He said he had nothing to report on nor did not have time for us since he was busy.

In what the government and Kaweri called compensation or resettlement, Mr. Kayiira Peter Bakaleke the Chairman of the evicted communities said they were lured into signing agreements that read of their relocation to Kambuye village. The agreement further mentioned that they would be given the same acreage of land as what they were evicted from. This, according to Kayiira did not happen.

“This didn’t happen. People were not compensated and neither were we relocated. The government and Kaweeri coffee plantation are telling lies. People are still suffering.” Kayiira elaborated.

Mr. Ssendagire Geoffrey the area Chairperson of Local Council II in Kanseera Ward said people were never compensated and rejected being given 50×100 ft. plots.

“It was a traumatizing experience. It left many of them depressed. Many of them had over 20 acres and big families. They wondered how they could stay on that land.” the chairman added.

The purported land for relocation was eventually grabbed by a businessman in Mubende Kaweesi George, the area chairperson confirmed

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Breaking: A missing community environmental defender was found dumped by the roadside.



By Witness Radio team.

An environmental human rights defender abducted five days ago while in Kampala has been found abandoned on a roadside in Kyenjonjo district, Witness Radio has confirmed.

Speaking to Witness Radio, a member at the Environmental Governance Institute (EGI) revealed that Stephen Kwikiriza was discovered at around 8:30 pm yesterday, abandoned on the roadside in Kyenjojo District. He added that the defender was severely beaten and is currently receiving medical attention at one of the hospitals in the country.

“We learned from his wife, whom he called, that he had been dumped in Kyenjojo. She informed one of our colleagues. We, therefore, had to find a means of rescuing him. He, however, was badly beaten and is not in good health,” he added.

Stephen Kwikiriza, a member of the King Fisher Project Affected Community, also working with the EGI, was abducted in Kampala by plain-clothed men, believed to be from Uganda Peoples Defense forces (UPDF) on 4th of June 2024 Tuesday morning.

According to sources, upon his (Stephen) abduction, he managed to send a text message to one of his colleagues at the Environmental Governance Institute (EGI), a local organization supporting project-affected persons, which reported a missing person.

The Kingfisher project is an oil project in western Uganda on the shores of Lake Albert, developed by the Chinese company China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), of which TotalEnergiesis the main shareholder. The project will extract oil and be transported by the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).

According to a statement from the Stop EACOP Coalition members, Stephen had been receiving various threats from UPDF officers deployed in the Kingfisher area. The coalition members believe these threats are retaliation for being outspoken against human rights abuses and the threats to his community’s livelihood posed by the Kingfisher oil project.

His abduction comes barely a few weeks after the forceful arrests of the seven environment activists namely Barigye Bob, Katiiti Noah, Mwesigwa Newton, Byaruhanga Julius, Ndyamwesigwa Desire, Bintukwanga Raymond, and Jealousy Mugisha.

On May 27th, 2024, the seven were arbitrarily rounded up by armed police in Kampala outside the Chinese Embassy in Kampala, Uganda while delivering a protest letter to the Chinese Ambassador to Uganda calling for his government not to fund a disastrous project.

On June 8, 2024, over 115 international civil society organizations wrote a statement in response to Kwikiriza’s abduction calling upon the Ugandan authorities to ensure the immediate and unconditional release of Stephen Kwikiriza.

In the statement signed by Both Ends, Bank Track, and SOMO among others, they called on Ugandan authorities to cease all forms of harassment of civil society organizations and community members living in and speaking out on the EACOP Kingfisher project and all other related oil projects, including the Tilenga project, and guarantee in all circumstances that they can carry out their legitimate human

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Seven Environmental activists against EACOP have been charged and released on police bond.



By Witness Radio team.

Jinja Road police have preferred a charge of unlawful assembly against the seven environmental activists brutally arrested on May 27th, 2024, by armed police in Kampala for protesting against the intended financing of the East African crude oil pipeline project (EACOP) by the Chinese gov’t.

Section 66 of the Penal Code Act Cap. 120, states that any person who takes part in an unlawful assembly commits a misdemeanor and is liable to imprisonment for one year upon conviction.

The seven include Barigye Bob, Katiiti Noah, Mwesigwa Newton, Byaruhanga Julius, Ndyamwesigwa Desire, Bintukwanga Raymond, and Jealousy Mugisha. The group got arrested outside the Chinese Embassy in Kampala, Uganda in an attempt to deliver a protest letter to the Chinese Ambassador to Uganda calling for his government not to fund a disastrous project.

On May 27th, seven protesters chose to sit outside the embassy, vowing not to leave until embassy officials received their protest letter, which contained grievances and demands. However, this did not happen. Instead, the police swung into action, brutally rounding up the protesters before throwing them into a police patrol and taken to Jinja Road police. The arrest occurred before any embassy officials had engaged with the protesters.

According to activists, the EACOP project has caused severe human rights violations, poses significant environmental risks, and will contribute to the climate crisis.

The EACOP is a project spanning 1,443km from Kabaale, Hoima district in Uganda to the Chongoleani Peninsula near Tanga Port in Tanzania. It aims to transport oil from Uganda’s Lake Albert oilfields to global markets via the port of Tanga.

According to Uganda’s State House website, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on Thursday, April 4th, 2024, received a letter from the President of the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency Xi Jinping, expressing his unwavering support for the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project (EACOP).

“Your Excellency, I received your letter, and I am very happy to let you know that I am in full support of EACOP. I believe that it will enhance socio-economic development for the region. I am confident that with the strong cooperation between our nations, this project will be a success,” message President Museveni on his X platform read in part.

On Saturday last week, Civil Society Organizations advocating for energy just transition, climate and environmental conservatism, and land justice addressed the media and appealed to the Chinese President to drop his interest in funding the EACOP pipeline after several banks and insurance companies had abandoned the Total-led project.

The government of China has now joined the list of entities, including Total Energies, in funding the controversial and potentially disastrous project that has continued to criminalize those who speak about its negative impacts.

The seven activists will report back to Jinja Road police station on June 4th, 2024.

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Breaking: Over 600 attacks against defenders have been recorded in the year 2023 globally- BHRRC report.



By Witness Radio-Uganda.

The attacks and criminalization of land rights defenders, environmental activists, and climate activists have become common tactics employed by the authorities in the world to silence, suppress opposition, and perpetuate impunity against those that protect the climate, environment, and land rights.

The escalating scale of attacks against people defending our rights and climate from business-related harms, according to the report by Business and Human Rights Resource Centre in 2023 titled People power under pressure: Human rights defenders & business in 2023 shows the failure of governments to protect human rights and illustrates how voluntary action by companies and investors is insufficient to prevent, stop and remedy harm.

The report documented 630 instances of attacks directly affecting an estimated 20,000 people, raising concerns about business-related harms in the whole World where over three-quarters (78%) of these attacks were against people acting to protect the climate, environmental, and land rights.

According to the report, many attacks involved collusion between state, private sector, and other non-state actors occurring in contexts where there are high levels of impunity, adding that the direct perpetrators of attacks were largely state actors, with police and judicial systems being the most common perpetrators, followed by the military/armed forces. The highest number of attacks were connected with the mining (165), agribusiness (117), and oil, gas & coal (112) sectors.

According to the Resource Centre, Brazil leads the tally in the World with the highest number of attacks on HRDs challenging corporate harm in 2023 with (68) cases followed by, India (59), Mexico (55), Honduras (44), the Philippines (36), USA (27), Iran (24), and Colombia (22), among others.

In 2023, 86% of the cases we tracked were non-lethal including arbitrary detention (157), physical violence (81), intimidation and threats (80), strategic lawsuits against public participation (38), and others. The Resource Centre also recorded 87 killings of defenders speaking out about business-related harms in 2023. Additionally, the Centre has revealed most attacks – both lethal and non-lethal against HRDs go uninvestigated and unpunished, promoting a culture of impunity and fueling further attacks.

In Africa, Uganda has recorded the highest number of cases, with 18 incidents reported. The East Africa Crude Oil pipeline stands out as a focal point for most of these attacks, with individuals opposing this major infrastructure project being targeted by the state.

The report revealed one of the incidents where the Police officers refused to let the students enter parliament. Most were chased away, but four students, including Kajubi Maktom, were caught by police and allegedly kicked, punched, and beaten with wood, and brutally arrested. They spent the weekend in Luzira prison, where Maktom contracted tuberculosis, before being charged with public nuisance and released on bail. Since then Maktom has continued to receive threats from unknown persons.

Several reports including those of Human Rights Watch, Frontline Defenders, and Witness Radio among others have published reports describing patterns of arbitrary arrests, threats, office raids, and intimidation against individuals who have raised concerns about EACOP and other oil developments in Uganda.

The 630 instances of attacks against people raising concerns about business-related harms recorded in 2023 only are part of a consistent, ongoing pattern of attacks against HRDs protecting our rights and planet globally, with more than 5,300 attacks recorded since January 2015 by the Resource Centre.

The report calls upon States to fulfill their duty to protect the rights of HRDs and for business actors to respect the rights of HRDs by taking immediate action on these recommendations.

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