Uganda: Farmers Resist Land Grab by Gen. Museveni's U.S.-trained Military

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Gen. Museveni--heil to the chief.


In Uganda villagers and rural farmers in an area known as Amuru are today resisting an attempt by a powerful corporation called Madhvani Group and Gen. Yoweri Museveni to forcefully seize their land.

Rather than engage in transparent negotiations over the terms of how to purchase or lease the land Gen. Museveni has deployed troops in the region, escalting the potential for brutalization of the people. Madhvani Group wants to acquire more than 20,000 acres for a sugar cane plantation and factory.

Gen. Museveni's military is U.S.-trained and his regime is supported to the tune of $750 million annually by Washington, which can rein in his militarism. When Museveni first seized control 31 years ago he denounced African leaders like Mobutu Sese Seku, Jeane Bokassa, and Idi Amin for staying too long in power and create misery and destruction. He joined that unholy league long ago.

During the brutal anti-insurgency military operations by Gen. Museveni's army against the vicious Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) two million people in Uganda's Acholi region were forced into camps, purportedly to protect them from the LRA. Their livestock and granaries, the most important assets in rural areas, were plundered by the military and senior officers.
Many believe the forced confinement was a ploy to steal their fertile and mineral-rich ancestral lands.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that as many as 1,000 people died per week in the camps due to lack of sufficient food, water, medical and sanitary facilities. Over one million may have perished over a 20-year period from this planned neglect. Bowing to international pressure Gen. Museveni closed the camps in 2006.

Camp survivors returned to their ancestral lands. Some had their land taken away and given to the Uganda Wild Life Authority as game preserves to attract tourists from Europe. Others have been working hard to rebuild their lives--tilling the soil, growing food and commercial crops, saving their money and sending their children to school.

These vulnerable camp survivors now face armed attack and disruption of the brief period of peace they've enjoyed.

It's not Joseph Kony and the LRA that's behind the new invasion. Today it's powerful corporate land grabbers seeking profits by any means necessary, such as the Madhvani Group --with estimated assets worth over $500 million-- and Gen. Museveni and his military. This is militarized capitalism run amok.

Gen. Museveni has declared war against citizens of his own country and deployed the national army in a private land dispute.

Villagers have been attacked by government security forces. Uganda television news reports that even a rural school was raided and occupied by police -- teachers and student fled after reportedly being beaten.

The Madhvani Group must immediately renounce, repudiate and condemn use of state terrorism against innocent civilians by Gen. Museveni in his pursuit of land in Amuru on behalf of the company.

It's also believed Gen. Museveni may want to acquire the land by force because it contains mineral riches.

Uganda's former commissioner of lands administration Livingstone Okello-Okello observed in a recent letter to Betty Amongi, Gen. Museveni' minister for Lands that he had once proposed in Parliament that the government determine the resources contained in the land such as precious minerals and oil. He also wrote: “There is no investor under the sun who will put their money where the locals do not welcome it. Is it really Madhvani? Or is Madhvani’s name being used to camouflage land grabbing?”

The leaders in Acholi region, including Members of Parliament Gilbert Olanya, Anthony Akol and other MPs have clearly stated that the people are prepared to negotiate with ethical investors of their choice; but they are not interested in deals imposed with the barrel of guns. Scores of people have been killed in past incidents by security forces.

Land is the only asset the people of Amuru have. They are so terrified of dispossession that elderly women have even disrobed and protested semi-nude, such as when Museveni minister Amongi went to "survey" the land recently escorted by a heavily-armed troop detachment. Nude protest by women is the highest form of repudiation in this culturally conservative community.

The Museveni minister Amongi recently was quoted issuing a threat saying: “Anyone thinking of stopping survey of this land or anyone thinking of stopping the acquisition of this land is dreaming. I have come with all the power from government to ensure that this land is surveyed.”

Madhvani operates globally and it's hard to believe that, for example, in the U.S. it would partner with a government that used security forces and state terror in pursuit of a business deal it wanted.

Museveni, minister Amongi, and Madhvani's board of directors must be held collectively responsible for any deaths arising from the troop deployments.

Please sign the Petition demanding that Madhvani Group and Gen. Museveni stop using the national army in this landgrab campaign.

Link to Petition:

You can also contact Mr. Mayur Madhvani, via the Madhvani Group in Uganda by calling (256) 414 444 000.


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