SIFORCO Involved in Violence and Human Rights Violations

Feature story - June 16, 2011
Greenpeace denounces the major human rights violations that have taken place in connection with SIFORCO logging operations near Bumba in the DRC.

Approximately 40 million people in the DRC depend on the rainforest for their basic needs, like medicine, food or shelter. Expansion of logging into remaining areas of intact forests in the DDRC will destroy globally critical carbon reserves and impact biodiversity. Beyond environmental impacts, logging in the region exacerbates poverty and leads to social conflicts -- as in this case in the Equateur province, between the Yalisika community and SIFORCO. © Greenpeace / Philip Reynaers

Greenpeace International condemns the violence used against the forest community of Yalisika last month in SIFORCO's logging area in the territory of Bumba (Equateur Province), and calls for a thorough investigation into these atrocities. All liabilities must be formally established, including SIFORCO’s role, the perpetrators punished and victims compensated.

It was reported to Greenpeace that police and navy forces used excessive violence against local people from the Yalisika community in connection with a social conflict involving the logging company SIFORCO. Greenpeace, in collaboration with Réseau Ressources Naturelles (RRN) sent a team to the area to investigate.

The findings were grim, revealing that the community had been a victim of harsh retaliation on 2nd May, with several women and girls raped, several people badly beaten, the property of many villagers destroyed and 16 people arrested. On the night of 2nd May one of the victims, Mr. Frédéric MOLOMA TUKA, died.

“All of these facts provide new evidence that industrial logging in the Democratic Republic of Congo does not contribute to local development but instead generates multiple recurring conflicts with local communities that all too often lead to retaliatory violence,” said Juvin AKIAK, Forest Campaigner Greenpeace.

The reported events once again raise the question of the actual role of the logging industry in the DRC. Witnesses interviewed in the Bumba area accord in denouncing the involvement of SIFORCO in this violent incident, pointing out that the company directly provided the means of transport for what can be described as a punitive expedition.

Once again, SIFORCO chose to use violence (by calling for police intervention). Yet at a November 2009 forum organized by Greenpeace and civil society in Bumba, officials from SIFORCO and DANZER, SIFORCO’s Switzerland-based parent company, had committed to make every effort to honor their promises to the communities affected by the group’s logging operations and establish means of mediation to resolve disputes.

“While SIFORCO claims to be moving towards sustainable forest management, including through certification, it still has a long way to go. This foreign company reigns over the area as if it was its own,” added Juvin AKIAK.

Greenpeace calls for an independent inquiry into these acts of extreme violence, in order to identify and punish all those responsible.

Background and More Information

Summary of the case against SIFORCO