THE AMURU LAND STRUGGLE
"Governments, investors and international agencies have deployed the rhetroric of wildlife conservation and economic development to justify large scale land grabs"- Blog Editor: Contesting compensation in Uganda's Apaa land conflict.
The struggle of Amuru begins with many internally displaced Acholi people and their search for a homeland. For a decade from mid-1990s, many Acholi people had been relocated from their homes to Internally Displaced People's camps (IDP camps) resulting from the insurgency of the Lord's Resistance Army. Upon return from camps in 2006/7, most families found their land confiscated . The residents of Apaa, Lakang and other villages in Amuru District found their land occupied by international agencies and others gazetted for wildlife. They demanded for their land back but were met with violence by the the authorities instead. After thorough training, the locals have put aside their fears of intimidation from authorities and leveraged their collective power to build a non-violent struggle against the land grabs and other injustices.
THE APAA STORY
For Apaa, in 2006/7, returnees found that, in their absence, the land that they previously resided on was transferred from Amuru to Adjumani District and 'gazetted' (officially demacated) as East Madi Wildlife Reserve in their absence. This reserve was later leased into a private-public partnership with a foreign investor, Lake Albert Safaris, for game hunting. The community has witnessed outbreaks of violent evictions although the dispute over the area has yet to be settled. The 'gazettment' of the area tarnishes any rights of the locals to their homeland and they have been named as illegal squatters on a protected area (wildlife reserve).
The Acholi have resorted to non-violent public denunciation of the ongoing brutal killings, torture, forcible evictions and burning of homes, the devastation and plundering of crops and livelihoods by the Uganda Police Force, Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF)and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). In 2018, members of land protection campaigns across the country converged at the site of a land grab in Awei, Alebtong District to launch what they dub now as the National Land Defense League (NLDL) a farmer-led movement against impunity, injustice and corruption in Land Governance and Management. The Apaa People have demonstrated their resolve to fight land grabbing while applying civil resistance and restraining from violence and staying committed to their goals. Through this effective action other groups in Uganda have been influenced to take similar actions.