Socialist Worker

Thousands of Congolese protesters block central London

by Ken Olende
Issue No. 2283

Demonstrators surged through Trafalgar Square (Pic: Smallman )

Demonstrators surged through Trafalgar Square (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Several thousand Congolese protesters thronged through central London on Wednesday afternoon, protesting at fraud in the recent presidential election. They started at the BBC near Oxford Circus, where they complained about a relative news blackout on election violence. They marched across the West End to Whitehall, chanting, 'Kabila must go'. The demonstrators say the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) sitting president Joseph Kabila fixed the election to ensure he was re-elected and that his main opponent Etienne Tshisekedi was the real victor.

Families with small children who had travelled from around the country to join the protest, mingled with stewards in an assortment of military fatigues. Groups of demonstrators chanted along with drummers. Other protesters held up horrific photos of atrocities committed by government forces.

Demonstrators were angry that people in Britain knew so little about DRC. The country's mineral resources are vital for technologies such as mobile phones. Armies from neighbouring countries and militias backed by Western multinationals have fought for years for access to these resources. These wars have torn DRC apart and killed ten million people.

Lina Kataka told Socialist Worker, 'We're protesting because we want people to be aware of what is happening. No one talks about the Congo

'Hundreds of women are being raped every day. Kabila is killing people to keep profits for the companies that want Coltan and gold and our other resources. We will not stop our protests until Kabila goes. Too many people are dying. We can't wait five years for another election.

'I work here in the civil service. I'd rather go back to Congo, but I can't do that while its so dangerous. We just want our freedom.'

Doudou Mbaya Tsunja, told Socialist Worker, 'They talk about elections in Russia or Egypt. Why doesn't the BBC show what is happening in Congo? Why doesn't the British government support the protests against Kabila? Cameron, Obama and Sarkozy, why don't you support the choice the people of Congo have made? We elected Tshisekedi.

'I know why. They don't want us to be free. They want parts for their iphones and laptops and ipads to stay cheap. They don't care if that means we're massacred in Congo. We're dying.

'This has been going on for years. Tony Blair was no better. He's responsible for a lot of the deaths. It's not the 19th century any more. They can't treat Africa like this. Ten million people have died in Congo. That's more than the populations of London and Birmingham combined.

'We don't want revenge. We want peace. The violence comes from the Cameron, Obama and Sarkozy. Your countries took Uranium from Congo and made bombs.

'I came from Birmingham with my wife and kids to protest here. We have to fight for our rights.'

For more background on Congo see Conflict in Congo

Homemade placards demand the Britain stops ignoring the plight of people in DRC (Pic: Smallman )

Homemade placards demand the Britain stops ignoring the plight of people in DRC (Pic: Guy Smallman)

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