July 15th, BREAKING NEWS: New cases of intimidation and arrests of local community leaders opposing oil exploration in Virunga NP

Local engagement program of SOCO International targeting the fisheries of Lake Edward: some individuals of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) identified, local populations taken hostage.

Local civil society organizations working on conservation and protection of the Environment and Human Rights (CREF Network CREDDHO, IDPE, SOPR) condemn in the strongest manner the intimidations, arbitrary arrest, and torture (*) of local community members opposing oil developments in Virunga National Park.

The perpetrator of these intimidations is an army officer of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC), known as Major BURIMBI KINGI FERUZI, T2 of the 8th Military Region of North Kivu.

The local organizations denounce these acts and recall that the constitution of the Democratic Republic of Congo, as amended to date, prohibits any use of military forces for private purposes[1].

We would like to stress, as it has many times been stressed, that oil exploration and exploitation in Virunga National Park continues to violate the laws of the Democratic Republic of Congo in terms of the conservation and the protection of the environment[2], as well as in terms of the international conventions duly ratified by the DRC[3]. It is important to note that these conventions are legally binding for our country.

Indeed, it is since the year 2012 that this senior officer of the FARDC has been used by company SOCO International; his military status has been utilized to silence anyone who has questions about the true impact of the oil project, in particular human rights and environmental defenders.

In the wake of recent activities organized by SOCO International targeting two fisheries of Lake Edward, Kyavinyonge and Nyakakoma, it seems that the strategy is to force locals to accept, at any cost, the oil exploration / exploitation plans in Virunga National Park.

As a reminder, the same FARDC Senior Officer has already been involved in the local engagement campaign of SOCO in Virunga National Park; he supported SOCO’s activities in the past, forcing the population to accept this project. The above-mentioned facts have been listed and denounced by civil society actors in 2012[4].

Recently, the following incidents have taken place:

1.   Dated July 15, 2013, Mr. Marco KYANGWI MUSAKARA, President of the local Fisher’s Committee of Nyakakoma has been the victim of an arbitrary arrest. The arrest was ordered by Major BURIMBI KINGI FERUZI. The ground for the arrest was that he was part of the local delegation that visited MOANDA in Bas-Congo. This mission/delegation went to Bas-Congo in order to understand the local realities of oil exploration in an oil region; at his return he denounced the negative impacts of the oil developments on the lives of people and ecosystems.

2.  Mr. MACHOZI MUPANZA Daniel, a human rights activist of CREDDHO was a victim of intimidations; the reason for this intimidation was that he is one of the persons that have been identified as opponents of oil exploration/exploitation project in Virunga National Park.

Other targeted people were forced to flee in fear of torture and ill-treatment from the naval force elements that follow the orders of Major BURIMBI KINGI FERUZI.

Civil society actors urge the company SOCO International and the Major BURIMBI KINGI FERUZI, to remember that Congolese NGOs working on Human Rights have the primary duty to defend and promote, at all times and everywhere, the rights of citizens in the entire territory of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

These rights are civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights; citizens have the right to peace and development; they have the right to keep future generations of the negative consequences that may arise from any project that does not meet the national and international norms and standards for the sustainable management of natural resources. The exploitation of these resources must respond both to the principles of economic, social and ecological sustainability.

It should be emphasized that under no circumstances, Human Rights and Environmental defenders and their organizations should be compelled to abandon this noble mission.

In the light of the above, the Consortium, composed of CREF Network, CREDDHO, IDPE and SOPR, recommends the following:

  •  To the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo;

– To enforce the law on those who divert the armed forces of the Republic for private purposes;

– To ensure the protection of human rights and environmental defenders

  • To the general auditor to the military court in North Kivu;

– To initiate legal proceedings against Major BURIMBI KINGI FERUZI for acts of intimidation, arbitrary arrest, and torture perpetrated against those who issue opinions contrary to the oil exploration / exploitation plans in Virunga National Park;

  • To the company SOCO International

– To stop using officers of the Armed Forces (FARDC) in its engagement campaigns with communities that are already traumatized by unending conflicts and war.

– Respect the texts and laws of the Democratic Republic of Congo as the guiding principles of the EITI (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative).

 Signed in Goma, 24th of July 2013


For More Information Contact:

Mr. BANTU LUKAMBO : +243997704042


Mr. Isaac MUMBERE : +243995472018


Mr. Eddy KAMBALE : +243994029412


Mr. Alphonse MUHINDO VALIVAMBENE : +243998384839


(*) Additional information: “La torture est l’imposition volontaire de sévices d’ordre physique ou psychologique qui visent à faire souffrir un individu. Lorsque la torture accompagne l’exécution d’une condamnation à mort on parle plutôt de supplice, qui rend la mort longue et douloureuse sous forme de châtiment. La torture est aussi un moyen employé pour obtenir des aveux ou terroriser des populations ou des organisations, en ciblant des membres d’un groupe de personnes particulier, afin que les autres restent passifs de peur d’être victimes à leur tour. Les actes de torture produisent le plus souvent des séquelles physiques (ex : mutilations) et psychologiques (ex : traumatismes). Du point de vue du tortionnaire (ou bourreau), qui tient sa victime à sa merci, torturer peut répondre à des pulsions sadiques ou simplement s’inscrire dans la soumission à l’autorité établie.” Source RENADHOC


[1] Art 188 :«Les Forces armées sont républicaines. Elles sont au service de la Nation toute entière. Nul ne peut, sous peine de haute trahison, les détourner à ses fins propres. Elles sont apolitiques et soumises à l’autorité civile».

[2] Art 5 de l’Ordonnance-Loi de 1969 ; Art 15 et 19 de la Loi n° 011/2002 du 29 Août 2002

[3] La Convention de l’UNESCO concernant la protection du patrimoine mondial, culturel et naturel du 16 novembre 1972 et signée le 23 novembre 1972 ; la convention de RAMSAR

[4] Lettre de l’innovation pour le Développement et la Protection de l’Environnement (IDPE) adressée à son excellence Monsieur le Gouverneur de la Province du Nord-Kivu du 17 Janvier 2012 avec comme objet : « Notre Inquiétude face au comportement du capitaine FERUZI agent de T2 Goma dans les pêcheries du lac Edouard pour le compte de SOCO International.

Here below the signed appeal

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Source: CS Consortium: CREF Network, CREDDHO, IDPE and SOPR

Source: Synchronicity Earth

Response of SOCO International and OKAPI-EC, read it here:

Statement on allegations

Friday 26 July 2013

26 July 2013

SOCO is aware of the allegations brought to our attention today by the Innovation for the Protection and Development of Environment (IDPE) concerning the conduct of a member of the state military in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in association with SOCO’s Block V licence.

SOCO finds these allegations completely unfounded at this stage and denies any knowledge or involvement in the alleged claims. We intend to investigate these allegations thoroughly and provide further comment given the seriousness of the accusations.

At this stage we are able to say that Block V is located in an area where there is a visible state military presence due to the security situation in the eastern DRC region and that Major Feruzi was assigned by the FARDC to act as Military Liaison Officer during SOCO’s movements around the area.  This duty involves being present on journeys into Block V and meeting the local Regiment Commanders of the FARDC and other military personnel.

SOCO reiterates its commitment to conducting its business in an honest, ethical and responsible manner and takes seriously any allegation of impropriety.  SOCO affirms its commitment to the protection of human rights and to its Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, which can be viewed on its website at:



19 August 2013

Third Party Statement

Pursuant to its investigation into the allegations of made against a member of the state military in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in association with SOCO’s Block V licence, SOCO has received a written statement received from Mr Serge Darroze, OKAPI-EC Project Manager, who is regarded as an independent and reliable source:

I , Serge Darroze, OKAPI-EC Project Manager, hereby certifies that on Tuesday 16th 2013, we organized a visit to the sites of Ishango and Nyakakoma on the Lake Edward. This trip was organized by OKAPI to choose the site for the installation of the base camp for our scientific environmental and social researches program.

Due to security situation, SOCO allowed us to use their helicopter from Goma for this trip. We were 5 passengers and the pilot: Dr. Arthur KALONDJI, ICCN (PNVi), Major King FERUZI, FARDC, M. Pieter Kock, SSC, M. David BIRAHIRA, Director of the Nyakakoma Fishermen Cooperative, Dr. Serge DARROZE, OKAPI Environnement Conseil , M. Nicholas WOOD, pilot. Dr. Kalondji had been designated by the PNVi Chef de Site to come with us as their official representative.

We have left Goma around 9am, flew directly to Ishango where we stayed less than one hour, then we flew to Nyakakoma. After a meeting with the population leaders, MMr Kalondji, Birahira and myself went for walk through the village at the invitation of Mr. Birahira, while Major Feruzi and the rest of the group stayed talking with the FARDC officers.

As It took us longer that what was planned initially, Major Feruzi drove the FARDC pick-up with a few soldiers to come and fetch us and check that everything was fine. I remind that we are in an area riddled with rebels, and the Major feared that we might have encountered problems. As we were nearly back to the camp we went on on foot for the last 200m, and the Major drove the car back through the village. He was at the camp before us. We finally said good bye and left with the helicopter to come back to Goma. I cannot see how the Major would have had time to arrest and torture someone on the few minutes that we were separated. He was permanently in presence of the other members of the group.

Done in Kinshasa, July 30th 2013.

Source: SOCO International