Target: Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni
Goal: Demand the Ugandan government protect indigenous inhabitants from exploitation and unlawful mining operations
Uganda is a nation beset by problems, with a history of turmoil and a struggling population. Though recent foreign investment in the oil and mining industries may bring some prosperity to certain areas of the country, the rights of the indigenous people have come under threat. Corporate interest in privately-owned communal lands threatens to infringe on human rights. Demand that the Ugandan government address these concerns.
Oil development in the western region of Uganda renewed concerns about human rights and political corruption, and the increased foreign investments have proven more detrimental than beneficial to indigenous Ugandans. The government, in conjunction with the private sector, has been seizing and developing privately-owned lands, which are used for grazing livestock, raising crops, and as sites for burial, without regard to the welfare or rights of the people. The East African Mining company, in fact, first began exploring for gold in the Karamoja region without consent of communities or explanation of company activities, entering with armed soldiers to take soil samples.
Exploration and development has been carried out without consent or explanation of long-term effects on the population. Communal lands have been subjected to occupation and seizure, and a previous disarmament campaign of the native people has left many of them unable to defend against unlawful activity. Some companies have even gone ahead with exploration despite the lack of a license, and the Ugandan government has yet to address violations of human rights and communal ownership on a large scale.
Although foreign investment may bolster Uganda’s economic prospects, it should not come at the expense of indigenous peoples. The actions of mining companies are unlawful and ignore completely the basic human rights of land ownership. Without prior knowledge or agreement, the lands of the people of Karamoja are undergoing exploration, development, and even seizure by mining companies. Promised benefits to recompense loss of land and livelihood—such as schools, jobs, scholarships, and hospitals—have yet to appear, and there have largely been no consensual agreements between mining companies and communities over the use of land.
The possible benefits of mining should not come at the cost of human rights, and it should not become an acceptable norm to ignore the ownership and the people of these areas of interest. Sign this petition to demand that the rights of indigenous Ugandans be safeguarded, their livelihoods protected, and their communities given a voice in the use of their land.
Dear President Yoweri Museveni,
Though the interest in Uganda’s mineral and oil prospects could provide a great economic benefit to the country, it must not do so at the expense of indigenous people. Recently, it has come to light that the people of the Karamoja region are facing loss of land and livelihood without consent or explanation. Mining and development companies are moving in, exploring, and mining communal lands despite a lack of licenses and no compensation for the losses of the inhabitants. Many of these communities are not informed about possible repercussions or the impact of mining, and did not give their consent to allow companies to explore or develop the area.
The Ugandan government is licensing some of these explorations, but it is not protecting or safeguarding the rights of the people affected. I ask, therefore, that you take action to defend the basic human right of Ugandans to determine what is done on their lands, disallow unlicensed explorations, and demand that companies respect the rights of communities.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Andrew Regan via Wikipedia