MORE THAN 7000 HOUSEHOLDS IN KIMOGORO FACE BRUTAL EVICTION
Kimogoro community members live in fear and panic after facing brutal eviction threats from unscrupulous individuals. Among the perpetrators is the Deputy Director, Internal Security Organization (ISO), Gen Taban Amin. He is accused of using his position in the Army to violently grab land claiming that Ranch eleven (11) belongs to his late father, Idi Amin, a former President of Uganda.
Ranch II covers over 5.5 square miles of land and is home to more than 7000 households of the Kibyama and Nubian communities. The Kibyama and Nubian communities were brutally evicted from the Murchison falls National Park after the establishing of Karuma Wildlife Reserve in the 1960’s. According to the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), this was meant to create a barrier between the Murchison falls National Park and the villages that were in the un-conserved area of the region so that there is less conflict between humans and wildlife.
For decades, these two communities have lived peacefully on the land until the illegal evictions began a few years ago. Private individuals and those belonging to government institutions like the army have cause terror in the community rendering many homeless.
“Gen. Taban is ploughing people’s gardens forcefully. When you harvest your crops from the garden, he clears it immediately. Living in Ranch II has turned into ‘survival for the fittest’ and people are living in fear for their lives.” Ramathan Watuwa, member of Kimogoro village
“We’re treated like non-Ugandans. Powerful people are forcefully clearing our gardens with no one doing anything about it.” Steven Kauka, Kimogoro ‘B’ village
Ranch 11 is home to thousands of families, some of whom cannot trace their ancestral origins because they were born there and have lived on this land for hundreds of years.
Jennifer Anenocan is an Acholi who knows no other place as home but Kimogoro. When her relatives including her parents died, they were buried in Ranch 11. She has no other place to call home.
“My father was a soldier and brought here by Museveni. I don’t know where he came from. If Museveni wants this land, let him be clear instead of making us suffer in the hands of Faraji Musa.” Jennifer Anenocan
George Kiviri, the L.C.1 chairman, Kimogoro ‘A village’ shares the same views as Jennifer. Although he is afraid of mentioning the names of the land grabbers, he acknowledges that they are facing brutal land grabbing.
He said, “People come here in the names of ‘investors’ claiming to be sent by the government, yet we don’t know them as local leaders. They’re destroying people’s properties including crops. If the government wants the land for investors, why did it establish projects like schools and water pumps in the area and again support oppressors to mistreat the same people it’s supporting? “
Land grabbing continues to be a significant issue in Uganda. Land grabbing refers to the unlawful and often forceful acquisition of land by individuals, corporations, or the government, usually at the expense of local communities and landowners who are often displaced or denied their land rights. Many communities in Uganda have been displaced from their land, causing immense pain and suffering. Communities are left homeless and destitute, without alternative means of earning a livelihood and often with no effective access to legal or other remedies. Unscrupulous individuals continue to perpetuate land injustice with impunity. In addition to grabbing land, perpetrators go the extra mile to inflict pain on their victims. They unlawfully arrest, torture and kidnap those resisting unscrupulous deals.
It is important to note the role of the police and justice system in enabling crimes associated with illegal evictions and land grabs. The police remain adamant in apprehending the perpetrators of these injustices. It continues to profit from victims of oppression. The perpetrators of the crimes in Ranch 11 continue to walk scot-free while their victims suffer. The police and Army even help perpetrators to brutalize communities as noted by some community members.
“Even after paying money to the police to facilitate the arrest of the culprits who beat us up, they were never arrested or produced anywhere. I realized there is a weakness in the institutions meant to maintain law and order.” Ramathan.
“Because I mobilize communities to fight for their land rights, I’m being targeted by Faraji Musa. At some point, he sent three notorious ex-army men, Ramathan Ocora, Muhamad Adams, and Ajaga to beat me with the Kibiama L.C.1 chairman.” Ramadan recalls.
Ugandan communities facing land grabbing are actively resisting and standing up for their rights in various ways including nonviolent resistance. While the challenges are significant, many communities have demonstrated resilience and determination to protect their land and livelihoods.
Ranch eleven (11) community members in Kimogoro, Kiryandongo district are pushing back against illegal evictions and land grabbing. Even though they have faced brutal evictions on their land, they are not about to give up. No amount of fear and harassment can deter them from defending their land. Recently, they transformed their fear into power and organized a peaceful demonstration at Kimogoro center demanding that all land grabbing stops, and that government takes responsibility for protecting them and for the injustices committed against them.
“WE WILL DIE IN RANCH 11 BECAUSE IT’S OUR LAND.”
“WE DENOUNCE PLANS BY ‘INVESTORS TO GRAB OUR LAND.”
Along with Gen. Amin, they also named other unscrupulous individuals like Musa Faraji, Wamono Godfrey Walimbwa, Samuel Imbabazi, Abdul Razak, and Shaban Shamanya who have caused so much pain and suffering to them.
Thousands of communities around Uganda continue to suffer because of land grabbing. The government continues to put profit over people by perpetrating land injustices and protecting abusers.
Resisting land grabbing is a risky endeavor, as powerful interests are often involved. Some communities face threats, intimidation, or violence in response to their resistance efforts. This is why we continue to empower and support our Rapid Response grassroots network and activists to ensure the safety and success of these communities in their fight against land grabbing.