In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) violence associated with logging companies is not uncommon, but evidence and testimonies collected by Greenpeace show that the Yalisika community of Bosanga was punished with exceptional violence on May 2, 2011. In a new publication "Stolen future: Conflicts and logging in Congo's rainforests - the case of Danzer , Greenpeace today highlighted the involvement of a foreign logging company the Danzer Group, and its DRC subsidiary Siforco in exploitative human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo's forests.
This publication shows that on the night of May 2 2011, about 60 soldiers and police officers assaulted the forest community of Yalisika, in the village of Bosanga (in the territory of Bumba -Equateur Province), One villager died, Frederic Moloma Tuka, and several women were raped, including minors. Several other people were beaten, while 16 people were arrested and taken away.
Danzer Group started logging in this area in 1993, through SIFORCO, its subsidiary in the DRC and signed a _"social responsibility agreement" - "cahiers des charges" - with traditional chiefs in 2005. Under the 2002 forest code, these are legal obligations on the part of logging companies entering a community to compensate the local people; in this case the people of Yalisika were promised a school and a health facility. Danzer never delivered on this promise, but they did continue logging the forests.
On April 20, 2011, in protest of Danzer's failure to deliver on its obligations to the communities, people from Yalisika seized Danzer radio equipment, a solar panel, and several batteries from a logging work-site. The Danzer manager filed a legal complaint, which was eventually thrown out by the local court for containing unfounded information. But at the same time as filing the complaint Danzer asked for local authorities to intervene in the company's quarrel with the community, which resulted in the violent intervention by security forces a few days later.
Danzer hosted the meeting of the territorial security committee at which the decision to dispatch military and police was taken, and provided the truck that transported the security forces to the isolated Bosanga community. Based on past incidents where police and military had become involved in conflicts between loggers and forest communities, Danzer must have known that violence was a very likely outcome.
Greenpeace has already warned Danzer managers through direct dialogue in 2009 and 2010 against resorting to police and military forces for dealing with quarrels with local communities affected by their logging operations, since the very likely violent consequences are well-known from past cases.
The Danzer Group promotes itself as having a commitment to _"responsible management" in its own environmental policy it claims the following: "Our Environmental and Safety Management System (ESMS) seeks to protect all employees, the general public, and our ecosystem". It is clear from the experience of the Yalisika people, and other communities in the DRC that Danzer's "Environmental and Safety Management System" does not function. Danzer has a long track record of managing its forest operations irresponsibly, but has still managed to acquire Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certificates. The Danzer logging permit next to the village where the Yalisika community live was granted with an FSC controlled Wood stamp, a step towards full FSC certification.