Tanzania: Group raises alarm over state harrassment of land activists


By Katare Mbashiru, The Citizen Reporter – http://www.thecitizen.co.tz/News/Group-raises-alarm-over-state-harrassme...

Date of publication: 
16 December 2014

Dar es Salaam. Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) yesterday came out strongly to condemn threats directed towards defenders of pastoralists’ human rights in Loliondo.

Human rights defenders in Loliondo have been advocating for pastoralists’ land rights following intentions by investors to grab their land.

THRDC national coordinator Onesmo Olengurumwa told a news conference in Dar es Salaam that almost every non-governmental organisation (NGO) operating in Ngorongoro area have tasteda certain level of police harassment intimidation.

“All 17 active operating NGOs in Loliondo and their leaders have been frequently condemned and threatened by government officials over allegations of inciting land conflicts in Ngorongoro,’’ he said.

Mr Olengurumwa named the NGOs that have been threatened as Ngorongoro NGOs Network (NGONET), coordinated by Mr Samweli Nanghiria; Ujamaa Community Resources Trust (U-CRT), coordinated by Mr Makko Kondei; PWC coordinated by Joseph Melau; ACCORD coordinated by Mr Lokola Ndibalema; PALISEP coordinated by Mr Robert Kamakia; and LASHEHABINGO which is coordinated by Charles Ole Ndangonya.

Others, according to him, are RAMAT which is coordinated by Mr Yanic Ndoinyo, MACAO coordinated by Mr Baraka Eliud, AMBUDEO coordinated by Mr Joseph Kash, PCF coordinated by Mr Joseph Parsambei and Ngorongoro Positive Support which is coordinated byMr Alfred Mabula.

He added that even vocal journalists who revealed human rights violations in Loliondo were being persecuted, intimidated and sometimes branded non-Tanzanian.

According to Mr Olengurumwa, THRDC had names and identities of human rights defenders who continued to receive threats from state operatives.

He said human rights violations had escalated in the country because the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRGG) had no top leaders.

“More than six months now CHRGG has been operating without its chairperson, vice chairperson and six other commissioners,’’ he said, advising President Jakaya Kikwete to appoint them before the April referendum.

He also asked the police to conduct a thorough investigation into allegations of threats to human rights defenders in Loliondo.

“Human rights defenders are people who individually or with others act to promote or protect human rights and therefore they ought to be protected as per the Human Rights Defenders Declaration of 1998,’’ stressed the lobby group’s boss.