Statement from the Disciples of Christ Community in the Democratic Republic of Congo in light of the upcoming Congo Week October 19-25, 2008
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a country with a lot of potential and incredibly rich in natural resources: various minerals, forestry, water and other unknown materials that remain unexploited today. These resources provoke the envy of Congolese neighbors and other countries who would like to reap the profits of their exploitation, while most of the Congolese people live in destitution and poverty.
Countries in the international community and multi-national corporations regularly steal natural resources from the Congo. Coltan, a component found in cellular telephones is one such mineral that is exploited in the DRC. The Congolese government (as well as the individual Congolese) is unaware of the quantity of coltan which is mined and exported within its own borders each day. This is also the case for diamonds, gold and other precious metals.
Wood is another abundant resource in the DRC. It is harvested without consideration for any of the legal constraints found in the forestry code. The Congolese population, which should be the primary beneficiaries of these profits, is bypassed in this process since the companies, thanks to bribes, have already been granted immunity to proceed as they please. In the area where the Disciples have been working, black wood is being abusively exploited without regard to the ecological results, which could lead to the creation of a “desert” in the middle of the DRC.
In addition to the pillage of Congolese natural resources, the civilians are also often submitted to military incursions that directly loot their resources. Their goods are unjustly taken by police officers or military missions. Moreover, in conflict zones, the villages are not only plundered in this way, but also illegal taxes are demanded of those under rebel occupation.
While all these injustices are taking place in the Congo, we also note that the judicial system is not independent because of the abusive control of the executive branch. Even after elections created specific institutions that would aid in the independence of the judiciary branch, the executive branch has continually confiscated its power, especially through unconstitutional nominations.
Another non-negligible subject is violence towards women. Despite the laws condemning sexual violence, it is clear that the number of these cases is increasing and that women, unaware of their rights, continue to live in submission to abusive situations.
The DRC produces an important part of the world’s oxygen through it’s forests. But because of abusive exploitation of wood from the forests and water pollution, especially in urban areas, there is reason to be alarmed about the health of the Congolese people, but also about the health of our planet. The DRC contains several parks and natural reserves, but their management cannot be controlled by the neighboring populations or the government due to the lack of financial means to devote to these projects.
In this situation, the Congolese are like people dying of hunger in a paradise of milk and honey. This situation in Congo is unknown to most people around the world. But if it continues, the world will be adversely affected. Thus it is important to look to the Congo, not only to help us raise awareness, but to preserve the human race.
Congolese children are in a very miserable and precarious situation also. Despite all the laws written in their favor, the extreme poverty of their parents hinders their sense of security and well being.
One thing that surprises the Congolese people is the willingness to kill people in order to preserve the BONOBO monkey or some park. The war in Eastern Congo has killed 7 million people since 1998, but multinational corporations will do anything to keep the European and American people ignorant of these facts.
In terms of public health, malaria kills more people than AIDS. The situation is much worse that can be contained on this one page. This is why we are looking forward to our invitation to the next General Assembly by the Disciples of Christ in the U.S. and Canada so that a person from our church can come in person to explain the situation in greater depth.
Rev. Bonanga Eliki – President of the Disciples of Christ Community in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Rev. Clement Mputu – Vice President of the Disciples of Christ Community in the Democratic Republic of Congo