Sanctuary

Illegal logging and human rights abuses

Democratic Republic of Congo

Duration: 5:33


Available in 4 languages


Released: November 2015

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Across the Democratic Republic of Congo foreign owned logging companies are causing widespread destruction of one of the most valuable remaining tropical forests in the world. Often local communities are ignored as their forests are cut around them. In a country largely lawless the use of violence is endemic. By using the military and the police to crush opposition and resistance among the local populace the state is seen as openly supporting the companies over their own citizens. Acting with impunity people are being arrested, tortured and raped in remote regions.

The small forest dwelling community of Bayeria, in the Mai-Ndombe region, protested when their social improvement plans, an agreement made between the logging company and the village to help develop infrastructure, had failed to materialise. They tell their harrowing story in a region set to be the DRCs flagship forest protection area for new carbon investment projects.

  • Screenplay

    Unfulfilled promises
    00:00:00 to 00:00:47
    The Belgian logging Compagnie de Bois promised to build schools in their social contract with the community of Bayeria, but it did not deliver. The community protested and found that the law was not on their side.

    State violence in defense of the loggers
    00:00:48 to 00:03:07
    Police and soldiers entered the village beating, raping and arresting. Most people fled into the forests and this suffering has deeply affected the whole community. The families of those arrested still have not had contact with them.

    The forest provides
    00:03:08 to 00:04:15
    For the community of Bayeria the forest is the source of their protection and their medicines. It is their heritage, the legacy of their ancestors, so they feel deeply angered when trees are taken from it.

    The struggle continues to bring justice to Bayeria
    00:04:16 to 00:05:34
    Seeing the trees from their forests being taken and knowing that the State stands by those who have robbed them, the community members must remain firm in their struggle and keep fighting. Still no one has been brought to justice for the atrocities committed in Bayeria

  • Further reading

Produced by

Zero Violence

The battle to keep forests often leads to serious and sometimes fatal conflicts. Communities should be supported in their work and community leaders should not be criminalized for defending their land and our forests.

Learn More