Fresh violence in Kiryandongo as a project affected family head narrowly survived death
Kiryandongo – Uganda – Families that lost their land to multinationals and currently trapped in the middle of the plantations have begun a year with fresh attacks from allegedly their evictors.
Batumbya Charles, 61, a resident of Kikungulu village, Kitwala parish in Kiryandongo district is the first victim of fresh violence since 2021 started.
Batumbya, a father of 15, whose land is in the middle of the sugarcane plantations owned by Kiryandongo Sugar Limited was attacked from his home on a previous Sunday at 8:00 PM by two unidentified plain-clothed men who were armed with pangas and batons.
Kiryandongo Sugar Limited together with Agilis Partners Limited and Great Season SMC Limited are forcefully and violently evicting more than 35,000 inhabitants to give way for agribusiness projects.
Since 2017 when the evictions started, communities have complained about acts of violence meted against them by multinational companies from sexual and gender-based violence against women, defilement, torture, beating, kidnap to illegal arrest and detention among others.
“I was at home alone after my wife traveled with all the children to my in-laws. In the evening I was inside my house and I heard the noise of someone who had fallen down. So, I rushed to open the door to check what was happening. As soon I opened the door, two men forced themselves into my house. I was arrested, pushed down and no sooner I fell down than the attackers started beating me” Narrated Batumbya.
Speaking from his hospital bed, Batumbya further said that in the process, he tried to defend himself but he got overpowered by the attackers and started cutting his body parts using a panga.
“I have since lost my four-finger of my right arm to the attackers and now nursing wounds,” said, Batumbya.
Families living in the middle of plantations said they are vulnerable to attacks from multinational companies as violence is the order of the day.
They accuse multinational companies of intimidation and forcing them to receive as little as Uganda Shillings 150,000 equivalent to US Dollar 40 as compensation and when one refuses, such conduct is deemed disrespectful by investors and attracts serious beating.
“We suspect investors are responsible for the attack of Batumbya since we are in the middle of the plantations. They have tried to evict us and we are resisting, no one else is torturing us apart from them”, said one Mesarch Kagina a resident of Kikungulu.
However, the newly deployed Kiryandongo District Police Commander, SP Odonga Tonny, pleased to work with all stakeholders including communities to end the violence.