Uganda: Dozens of armed police and armed company workers invade a village in Kiryandongo, abducted 4 village members
Witness Radio | 19 March 2021
Dozens of armed police and armed company workers invade a village in Kiryandongo, abducted 4 village members
Kiryandongo – Uganda – Barely less than a week after Witness Radio – Uganda flagged the abduction of a land rights defender Atyaluk David Richard in Kiryandongo district, a group of 4 village members was abducted on Thursday morning, March, 18th by Kiryandongo police and workers of a multinational company Great Seasons SMC limited.
Eyewitnesses said company workers armed with bows and arrows, under the protection of Kiryandongo anti-riot police, combed Kisalanda – Jerusalem village, Kitwala sub-county in Kiryandongo district from 8:00 am, they entered and searched people’s homes, and abducted family heads.
Great Seasons SMC limited, a solo company owned by a Sudan investor currently based in Dubai, is part of the three multinational companies that are evicting communities off their land for agribusiness investments without any legal process. Other companies include Kiryandongo Sugar Limited owned by the RAI Dynasty from Mauritius and Kenya; and Agilis Partners Limited owned by American twin brothers.
“I saw two (2) police patrols and another pickup truck for the company fully loaded with anti-riot police and workers of Great Season SMC Limited. I counted 32 armed men and when they jumped off the trucks, some family heads managed to flee into bushes while others remained in their homes” Said one of the eyewitnesses
Those that were found in their homes and abducted are identified as, a 60-year-old Sepriano Baluma, Byaruhanga John, Alyangira Francis, and one Frank.
“When they came, they told Frank to remove all his belongings and vacate the area, when he resisted, they grabbed him into their pickup and took him. For Byaruhanga, he was in his kraal when they came, they told him they don’t want to see him and his cows and so he should vacate, when he said he had nowhere to go they picked him. This is the same way other were picked and taken to unknown places. As I speak to you, I am also in hiding. Said frank’s neighbor Kuluwudino Wineza.
Kuluwudino explained that Great Season SMC limited allegedly hired more than 30 men and armed them with bows and arrows to carry out violent acts against natives occupying the land.
According to Benon Baryeija, the chairman of the project-affected people said the even after the abduction of the four community members, the company workers, and agents under police protection, the group continued surveilling the entire village with intent to arrest whoever is seen on the land, they claim they want the land free from the community.
“Some of the families have been calling me, and they are stuck in the bushes where they are hiding from because they fear either to be shot or abducted, they are hungry and have nothing to do. They claim they have been told that this year is different from other years, it’s a year of death if they don’t flee the land, Said Baryeija.
Kiryandongo district police commander, Superintendent of Police, Ondoga Tonny, said he had not received any information yet regarding the abduction.
“Well, let me call my nearest colleagues, I will get back to you,” he said in a phone interview
The abduction has added to scores of community members and land rights defenders affected by the violence.
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