Local NGO urges SOCO to investigate death threats to Congolese Activists

On the 19th of October 2012, SOCO’s communications liaison officer sent a letter to a number of Congolese organizations, including some of the environmental activists who have been receiving death threats since February 2011.

The letter below is a response from Alphonse Muhindo, Director of Réseau CREF, one of the 4 activists that were forced to flee their hometown Goma in July 2012 because of new threats related to their opposition to oil extraction in the Virunga National Park. Important to note is that Mr. Muhindo has still not been able to return to Goma because of safety reasons.

Original French version below

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Dear Carol,

Thank you for your mail that I received while I was preparing for my return to DRC. Thank you also for the information provided and to which we will respond appropriately in due time.

However, you will recall that when we met it was because of a specific reason: the threats against civil society actors including myself. I am disappointed to receive a letter from SOCO, addressed to my person with no mention whatsoever of our discussion. This raises some questions about your credibility.

I’ll like to remind you that we urged you not to make the mistake of favoring economic interests above the human rights of communities and of civil society actors, particularly bearing in mind that we are receiving death threats. This is a real and worrying matter.

I would like to bring this crucial aspect to your attention. Indeed, in your statement, you say that “the success of a project can transform the economic well-being and social development of a host country.” This well-being can only be verified and attested by human beings that are alive and not by activists that have been slaughtered because of oil stakes.

I would like to remind you and bring to your attention that the stressful situation in which we are living, the repeated threats and our forced evacuation are unacceptable. I urge you to make every effort to call upon your colleagues and followers and ask them to stop with these threats.

Certainly, you have contacted Global Witness giving them an update about what your office in Kinshasa did in order to check the telephone number from which the death threats were received. But it is in your interest to push this issue further, as recommended by Global Witness in their recent letter.

Sincerely yours,

 

Alphonse Muhindo

Chère Carol,

.Merci pour votre mail que j’ai reçu alors que je préparais mon retour pour la RDC. Merci également pour les informations fournies et auxquelles nous pourrons réagir au moment opportun.

Cependant, vous vous rappellerez que nous nous étions rencontrés, avec une motivation spécifique relative aux menaces que subissent les acteurs de la société civile dont moi-même. Je suis  déçu qu’en me contactant personnellement, vous ne fassiez nullement pas allusion à cette affaire qui, pourtant, remet en cause votre crédibilité.

Vous voudrez bien vous rappeler que je vous avais prévenu de ne pas tomber dans l’erreur de ne privilégier que vos intérêts économiques au détriment des droits humains des communautés et des acteurs de la société civile, notamment en n’oubliant que la situation des menaces est réelle et préoccupante.

Je voudrai donc attirer votre attention sur cet aspect capital. En effet, dans votre communiqué, vous affirmez que “le succès d’un projet peut transformer le bien-être économique et social d’un pays hôte“. Ce bien-être ne peut être vérifiable qu’auprès des êtres humains vivants et non massacrés pour des enjeux pétroliers.

Je voudrai rappeler et insister que la situation de stress, des menaces et de déplacement des responsables que nous sommes,  est inacceptable. Je vous encourage vivement à mettre tout en œuvre pour interpeller vos collaborateurs et adeptes afin de faire cesser ces menaces.

Certes, vous aviez contacter Global Witness pour lui faire état des contacts avec votre bureau de Kinshasa pour tester le numéro. Mais, il est de votre intérêt de pousser plus loin, tel que recommandé dans la lettre récente de Global Witeness.

Salutations cordiales

Alphonse Muhindo

Press Release on death threats received by Environmental Activists

2 thoughts on “Local NGO urges SOCO to investigate death threats to Congolese Activists

  1. Further to the above article, it is important to clarify the following:

    SOCO does not condone any illegal activity whatsoever. The Company absolutely does not use violence, threats of violence or intimidation; corrupt practices do not serve our business interests and are not acceptable to the Company as reasonable standards of conduct. This is a message that we give not only to NGOs, but also to all parties connected to SOCO in every country and we will continue our efforts to make this message very clear to all concerned.

    Above, Réseau CREF makes reference to a letter from the Director of Global Witness, which SOCO received last week: we were grateful to receive the organisation’s suggestions and they have been noted at the highest level.

    SOCO is committed to communicating a clear message about its plans of activity and its standard of business conduct.

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