Violent arrests and torture expose the myth of ‘development’

Greenpeace | 25 September 2019 

Violent arrests and torture expose the myth of ‘development’
by Tal Harris 
On the night of 12 September, several members of the Yalifombo community in Tshopo province were arrested by Congolese national police driving a Feronia PHC jeep and accompanied by Feronia PHC security guards, according to the Congolese group Réseau d’Information et d’appui aux ONG (RIAO-RDC). On 15 September the traditional chief of the neighboring Mwingi community was abducted and tortured by police officers before managing to escape. The whereabouts of three villagers reportedly also detained, remain unknown [1]. Two months ago RIAO-RDC-member Joël Imbangola was murdered by a Feronia PHC security guard [2]. The alleged victims are members of communities on behalf of which RIAO-RDC filed a complaint with the German Development Bank KfW’s private sector branch DEG in November last year. The communities claim the land occupied by Feronia PHC’s Lokutu plantation was stolen from them by the Belgian colonial administration in the early 20th century to be handed out to the British company Lever Brothers, which later joined with the Dutch Margarine Unie to form Unilever. Unilever sold the plantations to Feronia in 2009. The communities contend that Feronia has since illegally occupied their land.
Kinshasa, 25 September 2019 – Greenpeace Africa is appalled — but not surprised — by reports of violent nocturnal arrests and torture of Congolese villagers in Tshopo province. The communities are involved in a conflict over their land with Plantations et Huileries du Congo SA (PHC), a palm oil plantation company owned by the Canadian company Feronia Inc. 
Greenpeace Africa calls on the Congolese government and Feronia’s international funders – including the British, French, German, Dutch and Belgian and other development banks [3] – to take all possible measures to ensure that Feronia respects the human rights and dignity of the communities, peasants and workers affected by its operations as well as their right to pursue international mediation
“The atrocities reported by the Yalifombo and Mwingi communities must be met with firm action. Instead of violent displacement, arrests and torture, forest communities deserve justice,” said Irene Wabiwa Betoko, Senior Forest campaign Manager of Greenpeace Africa.
Contact for interviews and more information:
Irène Wabiwa Betoko, Greenpeace Africa Senior Forest Manager, [email protected], +243 976756102 
Tal Harris, Greenpeace Africa International Communications Coordinator, [email protected], +221 776730496
Newsdesk Greenpeace Africa: [email protected]
[1] www.farmlandgrab.org/29157
[2] www.farmlandgrab.org/29061
[3] www.feronia.com/pages/view/shareholder-information; www.feronia.com/news/view/feronia_secures_49m_term_facility_for_palm_oil_operations; www.feronia.com/news/view/feronia_inc_announces_strategic_investment_from_phatisas_african_agriculture_fund

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