The Albertine Watch rejects the statement of the Bagungu Community Association (BACA) as this would lead to ethnic genocide among the tribal community of Buliisa district

In response to the statement issued by the Bagungu Community Association (BACA), expressing dissatisfaction over the Tilenga project and Bagungu cultural heritage specifically in regards to the Joint Venture Partners (JVPs) – TOTAL E&P, TULLOW and CNOOC ESIA report that “no indigenous people were identified within the Project Area” and, therefore, “it was not necessary to include IFC PS 7: Indigenous Peoples” in the ESIA. On 9th November 2018, the Bagungu Community Association (BACA ) issued a statement in which the Association noted that “the Bagungu community has suffered grave historical injustices and marginalization, under the colonial and post-colonial administrations to date and has even petitioned the national parliament on 8th February 2018, on this same issue. There has been an attempt by ESIA to equate the Bagungu to other tribes that are recent immigrants to Buliisa district (Bugungu); especially the Alur. However, archaeological evidence, documented and oral history indicate that the Bagungu have inhabited Bugungu for more than 1000 years and that the Bagungu are linguistically and culturally VERY different from the Alur. Any similarities are due to the assimilation of the migrant Alur by the Bagungu. A scientific analysis by the US-based Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) concluded that Lugungu was a distinct language from Runyoro and worthy of its own written literature. Currently there is a major project to promote Lugungu language and the culture of Bagungu and the New Testament of the Holy Bible is in print, on top of other stories”.

The Bagungu Community Association (BACA) further demanded that the International Oil Companies and the government of the Republic of Uganda to consider putting in place the main criterion to identify indigenous peoples and the true inhabitants of Buliisa district and Bunyoro at large. The Association also noted that nobody other than the Bagungu themselves should define for Bagungu who Bagungu’s  are because they much better know who the Bagungu are and that observers whose motive might be subjugation and oppression shouldn’t be allowed to participate in the Tilenga project. The Bagungu community demands that the IOCs/JVPs respect the Bagungu culture, traditions and heritage including the customary naming of Bagungu villages.The Bagungu Community Association also requested tha,the TILENGA Project should be renamed to reflect the name Bugungu, say: BUGUNGU OIL & GAS PROJECT or Bugungu CPF project or Bugungu industrial project as alternatives.

The Albertine Watch strongly condemns the statements and demands of the Bagungu Community Association (BACA). As a watchdog group, the Albertine Watch has been monitoring the ethnic misunderstanding in Buliisa since 2002, with the objectives of ensuring the peaceful coexistence among the different tribes in the region. The Albertine watch has been working with different stakeholders such as activists, human rights defenders, environmental activists, religious leaders, fishermen, the youth, police and leaders of community based organizations in the region among others in order to understand the major underlying causes of tribal conflicts between the different tribes in the region.

The Albertine Watch is calling upon the leaderships of  Bagungu Community Association to withdraw their statements and illegal demands that would cause tribal war and ethnic genocide as the statements made by the Bagungu Community Association ( BACA) is one of its kind that may cause tension and panic among the different tribes in the region.

Furthermore, the Bagungu Community Association false observation and demands that the Alur community and other tribes should be evicted from Buliisa and Bunyoro at large because they are immigrants is a poor and backward attempts by the Bagungu Community Association in trying to show that the Oil resources in the Albertine rift is already a curse and its likely to cause chaos and blood shed among the different tribes in the region. Bagungu has historically targeted the Alur and other tribes including Lugbara, Acholi, Langi and Banyoro for being vocal and participatory in natural resources governance’s process of the Albertine region something which most of the leaderships of Bagungu are against. Any uniformed attempts by the International Oil companies and the Bagungu Community to exclude other tribes from the Tilenga project is likely to see bloodshed and tribal conflicts emerging all over the region.

Measures of such nature are being manipulated to promote the activities of International Oil companies especially Total E&P by cross section of Bagungu Community leaders, setting the stage for the massive land grabbing and force eviction of the Alur , Lugbara, Acholi, Bachope and Banyarwanda community. This if implemented will inexorably have a negative effect on the local communities in the region limiting the rights of marginalized community of Alur, Lugbra, Banyoro , Bachope and Acholi among others .There is also an emerging conflict around issues of land use around Busingoro and Butiaba in which the Buliisa district Local Council Five (LC5) Simon Kinene is interested in evicting the Alur and Lugbara  Community of Busigoro to allow him plant trees in their land. For instance, in Butiaba some areas are being designed for the implementation of presidential family projects that will see the establishment of military ware house to house military equipment to be used for guarding various Oil camps in the region.

On May 5th, 2018, young Alur farmer Mungumiyo Abel of Walukuba in Butiaba Sub County, Buliisa district was killed by a Mugungu on his way back from Bubwe where he has been to his garden. While walking back home from his farm, Abel was brutally murdered by an unnamed Mugungu who sped up and ran over him, as he crossed the road near Nyamukuta.Not the first of such murders, the death of a one woman  Akello, and the destruction of rural livelihoods across Waiga by Bagungu community are part of Bagungu systemic expansion of illegal evictions of other tribes who non Bagungu combined with a dangerous culture of violence and impunity amongst Bagungu that seeks to displace non Bagungu from Buliisa.The number of illegal evictions and confiscation of non Bagungu crops and produces by Bagungu  has escalated to reach 700 in December 2018.

Hundreds of non Bagungu farmer’s; men, women, children, the elderly have had their lands in Waiga stolen and are force to witness the over-exploitation of their land by Bagungu Community. This perhaps the greatest and most flagrant violation of international law in modern Uganda, and the non Bagungu farmers of Buliisa are the first to suffer its consequences each season, each harvest, each day and night. They are not allowed to use their own land.

All of this is not new. It is part of a process that has been going on over many years, but which is now accelerating. Buliisa district lacks political policies that include, for example, important and essential support for non Bagugungu.There are many reasons for this issues including Land grabbing and land takeovers by politicians,  corporations, governments, security personnel, and private individuals, all of whom are Bagungu with major interest of driving non Bagungu off their land

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