On Tuesday, Uganda police detained nine individuals protesting against a proposed crude oil pipeline, in an escalating crackdown on opponents of the project, which is opposed by environmentalists, campaigners, and European Union politicians.
Dozens of demonstrators had gathered near the European Union’s offices in Kampala’s capital to deliver a petition accusing the government of stealing people’s land when police broke up the gathering.
Police spokesman Patrick Onyango reported that nine individuals were detained for holding a “illegal demonstration.”
Onyango declared, “We are accusing them of inciting violence.”
Lead developers of the pipeline include France’s TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA), China’s CNOOC (0883.HK), and the national oil companies of Tanzania and Uganda.
The pipeline, which is expected to cost $3.5 billion, will connect Tanzania’s Indian Ocean coast with a port in landlocked Uganda’s west.
Environmentalists and human rights advocates have launched a campaign to halt the project, which they claim will uproot tens of thousands of residents and damage the region’s vulnerable ecosystems.
The EU legislators voted a resolution last month requesting that TotalEnergies postpone the project for a year in order to consider alternate options or abandon it entirely.
The demonstrators charged the government of Uganda with “forced displacement, deforestation, and other types of environmental destruction” in their petition.
The petition claimed that authorities were also engaged in arbitrary and illegal arrests of human rights advocates as well as “intimidation of human rights defenders active in natural resource governance.”
The EU Delegation in Uganda acknowledged receiving the petition and requested that those in custody be released.