Human Lives Human Rights:
In a distressing development, 39 individuals from the Maasai community, along with parliamentarian Emmanuel Lekishon Shangai, have been apprehended in Endulen, situated within Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Their detention, shrouded in secrecy and marked by a lack of legal representation, constitutes a grave breach of human rights.
This wave of arrests and subsequent confinement is tantamount to a resurgence of oppression against the Maasai Indigenous Community, who are championing their legitimate entitlements to ancestral lands and fundamental amenities like schools, healthcare facilities, and water initiatives in the Ngorongoro region.
Immediate action is imperative, as we urge Tanzanian authorities to disclose the current locations of the detained individuals, ensure access to legal counsel, and uphold due process by expeditiously presenting them before the court to challenge the legality of their detention.
The recent security operation unfolds against a backdrop of prolonged threats of coercive eviction targeting the Indigenous Maasai from their time-honored territories in Ngorongoro, a contentious dispute spanning more than a decade.
The Maasai community lives in constant trepidation of being forcibly uprooted from Ngorongoro to pave the way for a game reserve and a safeguarded conservation area, decisions made without their consultation or the granting of free, prior, and informed consent.
On August 15, 2023, members of the Maasai community congregated at Endulen Market to address concerns regarding the government’s perceived manipulation of the media to coerce their departure from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Following the community’s decision to send away journalists from the gathering, security personnel, including the police and Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) rangers, launched a campaign of intimidation against the Maasai populace. Subsequently, beginning on August 16, a total of 39 Maasai individuals were taken into custody and held in undisclosed locations.
On August 21, 2023, Emmanuel Lekishon Shangai, the MP representing Ngorongoro, was apprehended by Tanzanian police and NCAA rangers at his residence in Karatu. He was then transported to Karatu Police Station for questioning regarding his advocacy for accountability in the Ngorongoro security operation. Following this interrogation, he was transferred to an undisclosed facility, raising concerns about his well-being and safety.