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Human Rights group plea to Tanzania on Maasai eviction

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has asked Tanzania President Samia Suluhu to halt the eviction of the Maasai community in the Loliondo division of the Ngorongoro district.

The Commission, in a report, says police have used force to uproot the community from their ancestral land.

The reported use of force is said to have led to the injury of at least 31 people.

“The African Commission is gravely concerned that the forcibly uprooting of the affected communities entails grave danger to various rights of the members of the communities, including their rights to: life, bodily integrity, freedom of association, property, culture, family, existence and natural resources,” it said in a statement.

The commission said that in February, it sent a letter of urgent appeal to President Suluhu, which drew her attention, among others, to the human rights requirements that evictions are only carried out as a last resort after all alternatives to eviction have been explored.

It also wants open independent investigations to be urgently carried out into the violence occasioned since the start of the ongoing forcible eviction.

Survival International, a Human Rights lobby group, has also accused the Tanzanian army of shooting at the locals during the exercise, which Tanzania’s Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa dismissed.

The Tanzanian government resumed its plans of conserving Ngorongoro conservation area, which is designated a world heritage site by Unesco, by evicting about 70,000 Maasai communities.

The government also wants to make room for trophy hunting and elite tourism after eviction.

The exercise has been widely condemned by locals and has also attracted criticism from neighbouring countries.