Press Releases


Human Rights Day (December 10)

Human rights remain a daily struggle

On the occasion of Human Rights Day (December 10), the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) would like to emphasize the unbreakable universality of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was proclaimed 75 years ago. “There are still people who have to fight for rights that they are undisputedly entitled to. This can be a daily struggle – especially for members of ethnic or religious minorities,” stated Christoph Hahn, STP expert on genocide prevention and the Responsibility to Protect. “Thus, Maasai activist and lawyer Joseph Oleshangay is fighting against the violent expulsion of the Maasai in the north of Tanzania. These crimes in the name of nature conservation show that it is not only authoritarian states that are willing to compromise, violate, and violate human rights.” On December 10, Joseph Oleshangay will be honored with the Weimar Human Rights Prize for his commitment.

Oleshangay has been fighting for the rights of the Maasai communities in the nature reserves Ngorongoro and Loliondo in the north of the country for many years. The Maasai peoples’ way of life is under pressure. The herders’ cattle are often confiscated – and then sold if the owners don’t have enough money to buy them back from the nature conservation authorities. “Due to these measures, the Maasai are systematically impoverished. If they can’t sustain their cattle herds, resourceful businessmen make profit by buying the cattle at absurdly low prices – while the Maasai usually have to pay exorbitant prices for cattle,” Hahn added. Most of the Maasai make a living by selling cattle. However, if their animals are confiscated, they often cannot afford to buy them back.

Joseph Oleshangay has advocated on behalf of the Maasai in countless court proceedings – giving them the legal participation to which they are entitled. Last year alone, Oleshangay filed more than 10 lawsuits, resulting in the release of 159 Maasai who were illegally arrested by Tanzanian security forces for taking part in protests against illegal expulsions. Recently, the Appeals Chamber of the East African Court of Justice was compelled to declare the eviction of the Maasai from the border area of the Serengeti National Park illegal. “Courageous and fearless, Joseph Oleshangay aims to empower the Maasai, helping them to join forces against the government, which is trying to displace them under the guise of nature conservation,” Hahn added.

Joseph Oleshangay will be honored with the Human Rights Prize of the city of Weimar on December 10. The ceremony will take place in the “Festhalle der Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt” (Platz der Demokratie 2/3), starting at 5 pm.