Land news from around the world this past week. Concerning reports from land conflicts and disputes in several countries, but also some positive stories about a legal victory in Belize, indigenous seed-saving in India, and a brave coalition of Ethiopian advocates who took on the British government for their role in supporting the ‘villagisation’ plan that proposed to forcibly relocated 4 million people!
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January 14, 2016
in: Conflict, Land Grab
Related Links: EU asked to break silence on alleged killing of Oromo protesters , Ethiopia Growth Clashes With Politics as Oromo Protests Rise
The cows are back in the valley near the village of Wenchi in Ethiopia’s highlands, after being driven out five years ago by the arrival of a Dutch agricultural company. They returned in the past few weeks, after villagers burned the warehouses filled with seed potatoes that were to be planted on communal grazing lands that authorities had turned over to the Solagrow PLC company. This attack is among dozens of demonstrations taking place for the past two months across Ethiopia’s Oromo state, which comprises a third of the country. Protesters from the Oromo ethnic group say the government is trying to take away their lands and use them for everything from industrial development to luxury housing projects. The response has been harsh…
Villagers of Madhya Pradesh affected by top industrial house Welspun’s going ahead with acquisition of 1,600 acres for a thermal power plant are showing signs of restiveness. A high-level team led by well-known social activist Medha Patkar, which visited the area, has found that, already, two farmers have committed suicide to show opposition to “land grab”, and many are openly declaring that they would self-immolate…
Hundreds of villagers in Kibaha District, Coast Region are up in arms over the government’s move of grabbing their chunk of land without compensating them. A cross-section of Luhanzi villagers told ‘The Guardian’ that the government in Kibaha District ‘grabbed’ their land without compensating them. Some years ago, the government allocated the village land for industrial development to investors.
“We were here first,” said Charlotte Rodrique, chairwoman of the Burns Paiute Indian Tribe, whose ancestors lived on what is now the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, currently occupied by a white militia group. This incident points up, among a host of other issues, the need for the federal government to enforce treaties with American Indian nations, the 371 treaties that have been flagrantly broken by the same government…
This interview with Ricot Jean-Pierre, a social worker and program director at the Platform to Advocate Alternative Development in Haiti (PAPDA), tells how inequitable control of land has devastated the vast majority throughout Haitian history, from enslavement to today.
Belizean Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Vanessa Retreage has officially appointed members of the Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission to implement the Caribbean Court of Justice’s consent order for protecting the land rights of indigenous peoples.
…The government had arrived with police and militias and informed the residents that they were to be moved to a new location. There was a national plan called “villagisation” and Gambella was in the first phase. … In a detailed document outlining the villagisation plan, the regional government had written that the relocations aimed to “bring socioeconomic and cultural transformation of the people”. The timeframe was ambitious: in three years, starting in 2010, 225,000 people (or 60% of the population) would be relocated in Gambella. Nationwide, across Ethiopia’s fertile lowlands, the government aimed to relocate up to four million people in five years.
Communities in the area of Chief Malemia in Nsanje have turned down a proposal by their traditional leaders to sale their customary land to an Indian investor, Nyasa Limited. The communities have faulted Senior Chief Malemia among other traditional leaders for secretly masterminding the selling of their land to the company which intends to open Mango and Banana plantations without their knowledge.
The protest by about 100 people in the central city was broken up when 200 to 300 police surrounded the demonstrators near 34 Ly Thai To Street and herded a group of them onto a bus, sources told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.
Residents of the Punan Bah longhouse are suing the Sarawak government and nine others for alleged encroachment into their native customary rights (NRC) land at the Belaga district in the Kapit division.
“They said the government is pressuring them to sign papers and to give up the territory, and they don’t want to,” said Acosta. “But they feel a lot of pressure and they have told them in many ways, ‘We don’t want this. We need a lawyer. We need to know more and we cannot do this this way. We need somebody independent to oversee this process.’ And [the government representatives] just said, ‘Don’t worry — just sign.’”
In northeastern India’s mountainous state of Meghalaya, youngest daughters inherit the land—and the ancient food heritage of their mothers.