Tag Archives: Congo

Belgium: Commandos versus Africa Museum

Brussels 29.09.2020 The lawyers of seven Belgium associations representing former para commandos and officers who have served in Africa have given notice to the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA, or AfricaMuseum) in Tervuren. They ask that “any damage to the honour and reputation of the Belgian para commandos” be obliterated in a text next to a statue at the large rotunda of the museum, Antwerp newspaper reports

The associations demand that any link between the operation of the para commandos and the “crushing” of the rebels be removed. They want the museum to remove any reference “that damages the reputation of the Belgian para commandos”, by 12 October 2020 at the latest.

In the absence of action within the set term, the associations will start legal proceedings, the lawyers say in the notice of default.

It concerns the statue “La Belgique opportant la sécurité au Congo” (Belgium brings security to Congo) by Arsène Matton. In addition, Belgium is portrayed as protecting a sleeping man and child in the folds of its flag. A semi-transparent veil has been applied over that image, with a postcolonial image intended to evoke a “visual and semantic shock that should shed new light on a heavy heritage”.

The picture shows an armed soldier with the text “A Belgian para commando in Stanleyville in 1964, crushing the Simba rebels. The formal independence of Congo in 1960 has by no means sounded the death knell for foreign intervention ”. The seven associations consider that the first sentence of the text is “particularly misleading, hurtful and an attack on the honor” of the then Belgian para commandos. They already sent an open letter in July to the general director of the museum, Guido Gryseels, with Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès in copy.

According to the associations, this sentence establishes a “direct and unmistakable link” between the operation of the Belgian para commandos in Stanleyville, the former name of the current Kisangani, and the crushing of the Simba rebels. “This link is a clear historical untruth”, it sounds. “The intervention of the Belgian para commandos in Stanleyville from November 24 to 28, 1964 was after all a humanitarian operation that made it possible to free 2,375 hostages and was in no way intended to” crush the Simba rebels “. The humanitarian operation of the para commandos had no military purpose; and if Simba rebels were killed by para commandos during the humanitarian operation, it was only in situations of absolute necessity. ”
The associations demand that any link between the operation of the para commandos and the “crushing” of the rebels be removed. They want the museum to remove any reference “that damages the reputation of the Belgian para commandos”, by 12 October 2020 at the latest.

In the absence of action within the set term, the associations will start legal proceedings, the lawyers say in the notice of default.

Ebola outbreak in DR Congo

Ebola outbreak in western Democratic Republic of Congo has infected 100 people as of August 21, claiming lives of 43 of them, the World Health Organization said.

The latest outbreak of the virus was declared on June 1 in Mbandaka, a city of one million people on the River Congo, just before DR Congo declared the end of a previous outbreak in the east that had lasted for two years.

It has spread to remote villages in Equateur province spanning more than 300 km of dense tropical jungle with few roads, the WHO said in a statement. The pace of the virus’s spread has been relatively consistent, case data shows.

“The virus is spreading across a wide and rugged terrain which requires costly interventions,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Africa regional director.

As in previous outbreaks, the WHO has implemented a ring vaccination strategy, where contacts of infected individuals are vaccinated, reaching more than 22,600 people to date.

In late June Congo celebrated the end of a genetically distinct Ebola outbreak which killed more than 2,200 people over two years. Despite effective vaccines and treatments that dramatically boosted survival rates, however the response was limited by having to operate in areas controlled by armed groups.

There are the other problems along with security, complicating the situation, the last week health responders in Mbandaka went on strike and blocked access to testing laboratories for three days in protest over unpaid salaries and low pay scales. The strike ended on Monday when the government agreed to examine their claims.

Despite effective vaccines and treatments that dramatically boosted survival rates, the response was hampered by having to operate in areas controlled by armed groups.

Last week health responders in Mbandaka went on strike and blocked access to testing laboratories for three days in protest over unpaid salaries and low pay scales. The strike ended when the government agreed to examine their claims.

Congo’s equatorial forests are a natural reservoir for the Ebola virus, which was discovered near the Ebola River in 1976 and causes severe fièvre, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Congo’s equatorial forests are a natural reservoir for the Ebola virus, which was discovered near the Ebola River in 1976 and causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea.

Ghent removes Leopold II bust

Belgium city of Ghent removed a bust of King Leopold II from one of the city parks, in a symbolic gesture aligned with the celebration of 60 years of the independence of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the former colony.

“This symbolic action is received as a relief by the Congolese community,” said Marie-Laure Mulayi . “Finally, we are being heard.” The student from African origin, she leads Umoja student union, devoted to multiculturalsm.

During the ceremony on Juin 31, testimonies were read by inhabitants of Ghent with African roots.

“Today is a very important day. But it is not the last day. This is the start of a process, not an end. The battle continues. We will continue to do our best and hopefully we will have a better world soon. ”

“Today we want to turn a black page in our history,” said ships Tine Heyse (Green party). After a minute of silence, the removal proceeded. After the statue was removed there was brief applause.

The bust was brought to a depot of the Ghent City Museum. It will be examined later to assess the damages made by vandals. The nameplate with the inscription “Leopold II, King of the Belgians” and the pedestal on which the statue stood will remain for the time being.

The time when the controversial statue was removed was kept secret. The City of Ghent did not wish to make it a public event, indicating that they were determined to respect social distancing and other sanitary norms in the situations of coronavirus pandemic.

The controversial statue has been damaged several times by vandals in recent weeks. On Juin 31 in the evening, the Belgicist association Pro Belgica made a final tribute to the statue.

There are different reaction of the removal, also those who think it is wrote to erase past. “Ghent capitulates. One criminal, Leopold II, is now replaced by another, who has been canonized: George Floyd. All under the guise of ‘the fight against racism and discrimination” writes on his Twitter micro blog Sam van Rooy, the Flemish politician and Member of Flemish parliament.

Belgium King appologies for Colonial past

Here is the letter that Belgium King Philippe sent to the Congolese president, Félix Tshisekedi, as part of the 60th anniversary of the independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The sovereign expresses “deep regrets” there. (Translation from original in French):

On this sixtieth anniversary of the independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I extend my warmest wishes to you and to the Congolese people.

This anniversary is an opportunity to renew our feelings of deep friendship and to rejoice in the intense cooperation that exists between our two countries in so many fields, and in particular in the medical field, which is mobilizing us during this pandemic period. The health crisis strikes us amidst other concerns. The privileged partnership between Belgium and Congo is an asset to face it. On this national holiday, I wish to reaffirm our commitment by your side.

To further strengthen our ties and develop an even more fruitful friendship, we must be able to speak of our long common history in all truth and serenity.

Our history is made of common achievements but has also experienced painful episodes. At the time of the independent state of Congo acts of violence and cruelty were committed, which still weigh on our collective memory. The colonial period that followed also caused suffering and humiliation. I would like to express my deepest regrets for these wounds of the past, the pain of which is today rekindled by the discrimination still too present in our societies. I will continue to fight all forms of racism. I encourage the reflection that has been initiated by our parliament so that our memory is definitively pacified.

Global challenges demand that we look to the future in a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect. The fight for human dignity and for sustainable development requires joining forces. It is this ambition that I formulate for our two countries and for our two continents, African and European.

The current circumstances unfortunately do not allow me to go to your beautiful country, which I would love to know better. I hope I will have the opportunity soon. “

AU confirms Ebola outbreak

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has a new Ebola outbreak in the northeast province of the country.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on June 1 released a statement announcing the outbreak in Mbandaka, in Équateur province. According to the statement, six cases have been confirmed, with four deaths and two patients under medical care.

“It is likely more people will be identified with the disease as surveillance activities increase,” added the statement.

DRC: new Ebola case established

Democratic Republic of Congo has confirmed a case of Ebola in the western province of Equateur, over 1,000 km away from the ongoing outbreak in the country’s east, Health Minister Eteni Longondo told journalists on June 1.

The diagnosis presents a serious challenge to health authorities. In April, Congo was days from declaring the end of the second-largest Ebola epidemic on record when a new series of contaminations was confirmed in the east.

Rwanda: fugitive Bizimana pronounced dead

Serge Brammertz said fugitive Augustin Bizimana, who was indicted on 13 charges including genocide, murder and rape, is believed to have died in Pointe Noire, in the Republic of the Congo in 2000. His remains were identified by DNA testing.

Brammertz is prosecutor of a successor U.N. court with dual offices in Arusha, Tanzania and The Hague, Netherlands, that continues to function for remaining suspects and appeals.

“Bizimana was alleged to be responsible for the murders of former Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and 10 Belgian United Nations peacekeepers, and for the murder of Tutsi civilians” in five Rwandan regions, Brammertz said in a statement.

The announcement of Bizimana’s death follows the arrest in Paris last week of Felicien Kabuga, another of a handful of prominent suspects from the Rwandan genocide who had been on the run for more than two decades.

“The key lesson from the death of Augustin Bizimana is that the world should give timely justice,” said Naphtal Ahishakiye, executive secretary of genocide survivors’ organisation Ibuka.

“The suspects should be brought to justice before their deaths, also to avoid survivors dying before hearing the cases of those who killed their loved ones.”

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda conducted 50 trials before closing its doors in 2015. Brammertz is prosecutor of a successor U.N. court with dual offices in Arusha, Tanzania and The Hague, Netherlands, that continues to function for remaining suspects and appeals.

The statement said prosecutors had conducted DNA analysis “late last year” on remains that had earlier been recovered from a grave site in Pointe Noire.

Borrell condemns barbarism in Ituri

Ituri province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been hit for several weeks by an intensification of almost daily systematic attacks against the civilian population. Since the beginning of the year, nearly 300 people have been killed and more than 200,000 people have fled the atrocities.

“These barbaric acts must stop. It is up to the Congolese authorities and the UN Mission for Stabilization in the DRC (MONUSCO) to put an end to the actions of the CODECO armed militia and to bring the alleged perpetrators to justice. No feeling of impunity can prevail. It is also essential to give priority to dialogue and to fight against any instrumentalization of identity.

“What is happening in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo cannot become a forgotten crisis; and efforts to end insecurity in this region must be accelerated. The European Union stands ready to support the efforts of the Congolese authorities in this direction, in coordination with its partners.

“Finally, the European Union does not exclude taking adequate measures with regard to individuals, groups or organizations which contribute by their actions to undermining the preservation of peace or to serious human rights violations”.

DRC escape of Ebola patient

The Democratic Republic of Congo was two days away from announcing the end of the world’s second-largest Ebola epidemic when a new chain of infection was discovered on April 10, following more than seven weeks without a new case.

Since then, health authorities have sought to contain any renewed spread of infections.

But on April 18 a 28-year-old motorbike taxi-driver who had tested positive for Ebola ran away from the centre where he was being treated in the town of Beni.

“We are using all the options to get him out of the community,” said Boubacar Diallo, deputy incident manager for the WHO’s Ebola response operation. “We are expecting secondary cases from him.”

An Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo may spread again after a patient escaped from a clinic, complicating efforts to contain the disease that has infected six people since last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on April 19.

DR Congo: Ebola new case

The Ebola patient has died in Democratic Republic of Congo, the government said on Aptil 10, indicating that the second worst outbreak of the disease in history is not over.

“A new case of Ebola virus disease was confirmed today in the city of Beni in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

“While not welcome news, this is an event we anticipated. We kept response teams in Beni and other high risk areas for precisely this reason,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

As part of the active Ebola surveillance system in place to respond to this ongoing outbreak in DRC, thousands of alerts are still being investigated every day. An alert is a person who has symptoms that could be due to Ebola, or any death in a high risk area that could have been as result of Ebola.

As with all confirmed cases, efforts are already underway to find everyone who may have been in contact with the person in order to offer them the vaccine and monitor their health status.

“WHO has worked side by side with health responders from the DRC for over 18 months and our teams are right now supporting the investigation into this latest case,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic adds challenges, we will continue this joint effort until we can declare the end of this Ebola outbreak together.”

The news of the confirmed case came minutes after the conclusion of a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Ebola in DRC. The Emergency Committee will reconvene next week in order to re-evaluate their recommendations in light of this new information.

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