Maasai evicted and imprisoned for hunting concession
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Maasai evicted and imprisoned for hunting concession

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John Ahni Schertow
August 24, 2009
 

The Hadzabe community of Yaeda China valley, Tanzania, aren’t the only ones facing eviction and starvation so the commercial sport hunting industry can make a name for itself.

According to Survival International, eight Maasai villages were burnt to the ground last month—leaving 3,000 people without any food, shelter, or water.

“On 4 July, heavily armed Tanzanian riot police set fire to Maasai homesteads and foodstores to evict them from their ancestral land,” says Survival. “Thousands of Maasai are now destitute with their cattle in acute drought conditions. They were forced from their villages to create a game hunting area for the Otterlo Business Corporation (OBC). ”

17 years ago, the Tanzanian government granted OBC exclusive hunting rights to Maasai lands in Loliondo, northern Tanzania. The company is reportedly connected to Royal families from the United Arab Emirates—undoubtedly the same families pushing for a sport hunting enterprise on Hadzabe lands.

In the Name of Luxury

This wasn’t simply an eviction, like what the Ogiek are facing in nearby Kenya. It was also an attempt to dehumanize the Massai–specifically, Maasai women.

An unknown number of women were raped and severely beaten during the eviction. One woman told Survival, “two armed men chased me and forced me to lie down, at the same time another six men followed them and all raped me.”

“The recent atrocities show that the situation is now critical,” Survival goes on to say. “Maasai women recently demonstrating in Loliondo against the violent evictions were told they had no right to protest. Anonymous threats have also been made to local community leaders.”

Further, “the burning of villages has now stopped. But any Maasai herding cattle within the OBC hunting area are being arrested. Five people have already been tried without access to legal defence or bail, and have been imprisoned for six months. A further ten Maasai are due to appear in court on 24 August.”

International Demands

Since the July 4 eviction, several NGO’s have stepped forward in support of the Maasai, demanding a full, independent inquiry into the human rights violations.

They are also calling for the resignation of the Minister responsible for Natural Resources, for some recent, intolerable claim that the Massai were burning their own villages.

The NGO’s are further calling:

What You Can Do

If you would like to speak out in support of the Masaai and the Hadzabe (who’s situation has received next to no attention), send an email to:

PHOTO: © Erika Bloom

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