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Livelihood, Land And Investment

Roundup on Repression: On the continuing IPHRD attacks



Our challenges against the vicious attacks on Indigenous People’s Human Rights Defenders (IPHRDs) endure.

Indigenous Lumad sanctuaries attacked by state-sponsored tribal paramilitaries, Wet’suwet’en land defenders arrested for defending their territories, and the list of Indigenous leaders, activists and defenders victimized by criminal violence and repression grows.

From targeted harassment to cold-blooded killings, the reported attacks point to Indigenous communities and non-indigenous supporters’ defense of rights.

Most of the cases, if not all, remain unsolved until now. Impunity seems to benefit giant private corporations, powerful State agents, military, paramilitary and vigilante forces. In silencing all resistance to big corporate foreign and local developments and State-sponsored projects on Indigenous lands, violence through criminalization, harassment and barbaric assault become the norm.

IPMSDL continues to call on all indigenous communities and non-indigenous defenders to contribute their voice to amplify our call: Stop the attacks!

IPMSDL’s overview of documented IP human rights violations since the start of 2020.
Photo: Daniel Pascual via Peoples Dispatch

Persecution of Daniel Pascual Hernandez
Coordinator-General, Comité de Unidad Campesina (CUC)

This January 14, Maya K’iche leader Daniel Pascual Hernandez of Committee for Peasant Unity (CUC) goes to court to face defamation, slander and injury charges filed by a businessman, right-wing columnist and founder of “Foundation against Terrorism,” Ricardo Méndez Ruiz. Daniel Pascual received death threats and survived assassination plans in 2013 while defending the land of indigenous peasants from a cement manufacturing plant by company in San Juan Sacatepequez .

Daniel Pascual has criticized the “Foundation against Terrorism” for spreading misinformation about CUC and other leaders. The case was suspended in 2016 and currently resurfacing amid questions of irregularities, and the prevalent atmosphere of criminal persecution, assassination, and incarceration of indigenous leaders and human rights defenders in Guatemala.

Photo: retomada Nhu Vera via Conselho Indigenista Missionario

Assault and forced eviction of Guarani Kaiowá 
Dourados Indigenous Reserve in Mato Grosso do Sul

Morning of January 16, houses of indigenous Guarani Kaiowa in Dourados Indigenous Reserve in Mato Grosso do Sul were crushed by a tractor used in planting soybeans. The houses and belongings of the residents were even set ablaze by the perpetrators after demolition. When indigenous Guarani Kaiowa tried to stop the tractors, the police came and retaliated with gunshots. The shooting resulted in one resident losing his sight and another one paralyzed.

The Dourados Indigenous Reserve is targeted by a private soy plantation company. Last January 2 to 3, Guarani Kaiowa families were assaulted by the private security guards of the company resulting in injuries of multiple residents, and a 12-year-old boy who lost three fingers after handling a dropped grenade. Given the escalating violence, the public defender’s and human rights group requested police intervention but to no avail.

Photo: Karapatan-Southern Tagalog via

Killing of IP advocate Jay-ar Mercado
Volunteer, Bigkis at Lakas ng mga Katutubo sa Timog Katagalugan (BALATIK)

Last January 25, Jay-ar Mercado was in Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro in an indigenous Mangyan community when he was arrested and murdered by suspected state agents of 4th Infantry Battalion ng Armed Forces of the Philippines. For days, his family searched for his body going through the delaying tactics of the military and government units, and only recovered it on February 5. Mercado’s death follows the Duterte government’s crackdown on indigenous and human rights defenders including those who work against development aggression and militarization of indigenous communities.

Photo: Oskar Epelde via

DR Congo
Illegal incarceration of five villagers
Tshopo province, DR Congo

For five long months, five villagers of Tshopo province were put behind bars without any formal charges in relation to their defense of land against Canadian palm oil company Feronia Inc. Among those arrested was the village chief of Yalifombo. Only last January 28 were the five villagers learned of their cases — damages to Feronia’s property and physical injury. The villagers’ arrest last September 2019 was prompted when they confronted Feronia for dumping toxic wastes, causing death and serious illnesses. Much earlier, villagers and rights group forwarded their complaints to DEG (German development bank) citing human and labor rights violations of Feronia, including the complicity of British, American and European development aid agencies supporting the company.


Killings of Mayangna Indigenous
Indigenous Alal community, Bosawás Biosphere Reserve

Six indigenous Mayangna leaders were killed in Alal community located inside the Bosawás, Nicaragua, last January 29. The killings came after the series of attacks against indigenous communities linked to land grabbing. Two others were injured10 were kidnapped and 16 houses were set on fire forcing the community to evacuate. The attack was carried out by at least 80 armed men alleged to be working for illegal loggers and big cattle farmers.

Bosawás, Central America’s largest and protected rainforest, is under siege with the influx of non-indigenous settlers hired by ranchers. Thousands of hectares have been illegally cleared for timber logging and gold mining while the Nicaraguan government remains slow in addressing environmental plunder and previous cases of killings, kidnapping and assault against indigenous rights.

Photo: Neingulo Krome via The Wire

Travel blockade on Neingulo Krome
General-Secretary, Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR)

On February 5, while boarding a flight to Bangkok, rights activist and general secretary of the Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) was prevented by the Indian Central government from traveling without any explanation. Krome is a known national and international activist speaking for the Naga movement for self-determination and human rights.

Peoples’ movement in Naga, civil society groups, indigenous and human rights groups continue to assert their self-determination and territory for years. With the Peace Talks between India’s Central government and the liberation movements of Naga, repression on social movements, resource plunder and economic exploitation, political and military domination have strongly affected communities and development of peace negotiations.

Costa Rica
Shooting of Costa Rican IP Defenders
Indigenous Bribri and Brörán in Térraba

Indigenous Bribri Mainor Ortiz Delgado was shot in the leg on February 9 while tilling his land in the Térraba, Salitre indigenous territory southeast of Costa Rica. Two weeks later, Yehry Helmut Rivera, from the Brörán community, was shot late at night by a group of angry mobs on February 24. Mainor Ortiz, a member of Rio Azul community, and Rivera, actively works in protecting indigenous lands facing threats of occupation from non-indigenous trespassers. Mainor Ortiz has been a constant target of harassment, death threats, and frustrated murder in 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. Similarly, Rivera experienced brutal beating in 2013 from illegal loggers.

The attack on Mainor Ortiz and the murder of Rivera seems to be a repeat of Bribri leader Sergio Rojas’ assasination. In Costa Rica, the laws governing the recognition of the land and rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the search for justice for indigenous leaders killed, remain unsolved.

Photo: Bill Oketch via Witness Radio

Forced eviction on 35,000 Kiryandongo natives
Kiryandongo District, Uganda

Around 35,000 Kiryandongo natives occupying more than 9,000 acres of land were evicted in the first week of February to pave way for large scale farming. Primary schools, churches and health centers were demolished following the large-scale plantation’s expansion. Agribusiness companies, including US-based Agilis Partners and its company Joseph Initiatives, are supported by the Uganda government’s claim that the native’s territory was an “empty space and unoccupied public land” open for private businesses.

But the natives assert customary ownership. Since 2018, reports said that companies started evicting residents without consultation, proper compensation and reported police harassment.

Photo: Kaleb Yamarua via The Jakarta Post

Arrest of Maluku indigenous
Sabuai village, Siwalat district, Eastern Seram

Twenty-six Maluku indigenous peoples from Sabuai village were arrested last February 24 after staging a protest to block a logging company operating in their customary area. Four of them were released while 22 remain incarcerated. During the blockade, Maluku indigenous protesters chained the heavy transport equipment but the police immediately arrested them. Mount Ahwale forest area in East Seram is rich in high-value wood. But this mountain is also the site of historical and legacies of residents’ ancestors. Under the customary laws of Sabuai indigenous community, the logging activity is illegal, yet the forestry agency insists that the land is open for business and development.

Photo: Karen Information Center

Burma Army attacks displacing 300 Karen Families
Mutraw District, Kawthoolei State in Burma

Fighting between Karen soldiers and Burma Army forced the displacement of 300 villagers this February. According to Karen National Union (KNU) Mutraw District, around 2,000 more villagers are on the brink of running to escape the fighting. The firing of artillery shells in Taku Der village, which started early February, is ignited by the Burma Army to forward the Burma government’s road construction projects.

A total of 2,137 people from 253 households, including 417 children under five are at severe risk from the shelling and fighting. The KNU and Burma central government has signed a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, which the Burma Army violates, according to KNU.

Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator

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Livelihood, Land And Investment

Breaking; Lands Minister directs police chief to arrest armed mobs involved in forced and illegal land evictions.



By Witness Radio team

Uganda’s Lands Minister Judith Nabakooba has directed the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Martins Okoth Ochola to arrest all organized and armed mobs involved in forced and illegal land evictions.

The directive is the second one from the same minister to the police chief in three (3) months due to widespread forced and illegal land evictions in Uganda.

On February 28, 2022, President Yoweri Museveni came out and banned all land evictions in the country that are carried out without the consent of the respective District Security Committees (DSC).

The latest directive was triggered by violent scenes that occurred on the 19th of March 2023 when armed groups of men with graders invaded the St peter’s Church of Uganda’s land in Kibiri and started destroying crops planted on the church land. The armed group whose employer is not yet established claims the church is occupying someone’s land illegally.

In an attempt to stop the unlawful eviction, Church leaders, led by Reverend Maxwell Ssebuggwawo and some faithful tried to intervene but in vain.

According to eyewitnesses, the armed group immediately attacked the Clergyman and other Christians causing severe bodily injuries. In the scuffle, Rev. Maxwell Ssebuggwawo’s vestments were torn by the mob, whom the community believes was being targeted.

In response to the violent attack against the church leader and congregation, the minister observed that many land grabbers have resorted to using organized and armed mobs to evict people from their land. She further describes eviction as illegal and unacceptable since the government has capable security agencies that can effect lawful evictions.

“We have noted incidents where some crooks employ mobs to evict people yet we have security forces that can do this concerning the law. This is wrong. I have therefore directed the IGP to arrest everybody involved in these illegal acts and be brought to book”, the Minister added in an interview with the local media.

Witness Radio in the recent past has documented incidents where organized and armed mobs are participating in violent land evictions.  For instance, a recent eviction of a 99-year-old Hellena Namazzi in Numugongo in Kira Municipality in Wakiso district by Sema Properties boss, Ssemakula Sulait, another ugly case involved a violent eviction of over 2000 people off 328.1 hectares by one Moses Karangwa and Abid Alam in Kassanda district among others.

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Livelihood, Land And Investment

Over 500 Kapapi families in Hoima district remain stranded after the district security committee fails to resettle them back on their land as directed by the minister.



By Witness Radio team.

Hundreds of families, violently evicted from their land in Kapapi and Kiganja sub-counties in Hoima district are still pondering their next moves as efforts to return to their grabbed land remain ambiguous.

The directive came after Hoima district police and private guards from Magnum, a private security company raided people’s homes in Waaki North, Kapapi Central, Waaki South, Runga, and Kiryatete villages in Kapapi and Kiganja sub-counties, Hoima district on 10th of February 2023 at 1:00 am.

The violent scenes left hundreds of children with scores of injuries, houses were torched, and property worth billions was destroyed.  The animals such as goats, sheep, and cows were butchered and others were looted.

On 22nd of February 2023, the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Honorable Judith Nabakooba while addressing a meeting in Rukola village Kapapi sub-county, Hoima district directed the security committee to return the victim villagers back to their land.

She considered the eviction unlawful since it was conducted at night and without a court order.

In that meeting, area leaders, Hoima district police and Hoima Resident District commissioner, Mr. Rogers Mbabazi, Deputy Resident District Commissioner, Mr. Michael Kyakashari were in attendance.

The victim community accuses a group of people including Ndahura Gafayo, Aston Muhwezi, David Mpora, Monica Rwashadika, Agaba, and Wilber Kiiza of being responsible for the land grab.

The grabbed land is situated at the shores of Lake Albert adjacent to the Kabaale parish in Buseruka Sub-county where the greenfield oil refinery is to be established. In April 2018, the government selected the Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium (AGRC) as the private sector investment to finance, develop, construct, and operate the Greenfield oil Refinery estimated to cost $4b.

According to the Witness Radio research team, ever since the directive was made instead, there’s increased human rights violations including arbitrary arrests, detentions and threats, and intimidation against victims of residents encamped at Rwenyana Church to vacate.

The evictees report that after the minister’s directive, three community members include; Mbombo Steven, and Kalongo Steven have been arrested, charged, and remanded to Hoima government prison.

“Our families encamping at church and waiting to be resettled back as directed by the Minister are facing further threats and intimidation to go away. They say they don’t want us at the church. Some of us are currently in hiding for fear of arbitrary arrests or kidnaps.” A community member who preferred to be called Enos due to fear of retaliation told Witness Radio.

He further added that the community is living at the mercy of God, with no food, or shelter, and predicted an uncertain future for their children since they are not attending school.

“Families are scattered in different centers while others continue to live with their relatives. However essential services such as shelter, food, health services, and education for their children remain a challenge. These people found us on land and started claiming ownership of this land. Imagine when we went for a search at a land registry, we found out that they only have a title of 2 acres but everyone knows we have been on this land for over 30 years. We have people who were born on this land.” He added.

Witness Radio contacted Mr. Rogers Mbabazi, Hoima Resident District Commissioner who heads the district security committee, to understand how far the committee had gone with the implementation of the minister’s directive. He instead referred us to his Deputy Mr. Michael Kyakashari.

Mr. Michael Kyakashari, when asked about the status of the directive, told our reporter that he did not have an answer for him before he hung up.

“I don’t have an answer for you” He repeatedly said.

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Livelihood, Land And Investment

State House Anti-Corruption Unit nets a surveyor implicated in Mubende district land-grabs



Mr. Mafumu Paul and his accomplices at police after their arrest.

By Witness Radio Team,

The State House Anti-corruption Unit has arrested an alleged landgrabber in Mubende district whose evictions have rendered masses homeless.

Mr. Mafumu Paul, a Mubende based surveyor is accused of using police and conniving with some officials in the Lands ministry to issue forged titles that have been instrumental in illegal land evictions in the districts of Mubende, Kiboga and Kyankwanzi.

The alleged land grabber has been arrested alongside two of his farm workers who include Ssenyondo Ronald and Sseruyange Ben.

The arrest follows complaints of grave human rights abuses to the State House Anti-Corruption Unit and the minister for lands housing and urban development. In response, the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, the Hon. Judith Nabakooba Nalule, visited the families whose crops were sprayed with chemicals by Mafumu’s workers. She later requested the State House Anti-Corruption Unit to intervene and investigate circumstances under which forged certificate of land titles are issued and used to forcefully evict local communities off their land. She further directed the Mubende Police to oversee the arrest of the Mufumu.

He has been implicated in instigating unlawful arrests, beating people, denying communities to access clean water sources, razing-down people’s houses and gardens, fly-grazing, and spraying their crops with chemicals in order to evict them from their land.

In one of the recent cases, on the 14th of January 2023, violence was meted out on the residents in Nalyankanja village, Kyenda Town Council in Mubende district. Mafumu is said to have ordered his workers to spray their crops, an act they believe has escalated hunger in their area. The crops sprayed with chemicals included: sweet potatoes, pineapples, coffee, bananas, and Cassava.

According to Witness Radio research, Mafumu has been accused of violently evicting over 17 families since 2018 from their land measuring approximately 248 acres.

The alleged land grabber and his accomplices are currently being detained at Mubende Police.

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