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Virunga National Park Head Ranger in jail in Congo for opposing illegal construction work within park boundaries

Wednesday, 25 September 2013 Hits 7206 Categories Virunga | In Focus

 

The Head Ranger of the Central Sector of Virunga National Park, Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo, is held in jail already for five days by the National Intelligence Agency (ANR) in Goma. He was arrested by the military for opposing the execution of a project of UK oil company Soco International, local NGO partners in the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) explained on Tuesday, 24 September 2013.

The arrest of Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo occurred on Thursday 19 September 2013 at around 22.00 hours local in Kanyabayonga. Acccording to environmental NGOs, the Head Ranger received several threats after opposing a project by Soco International to build a telephone antenna in the National Park. Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo was officially arrested for "ignoring orders of the top hierarchy of the state," said the technical and scientific director of ICCN, Dr. Guy Mbayma.

"Soco International has an obligation to deliver social projects. And local communities in Nyakakoma demanded the installation of a telephone antenna. The personal representative of the President of the DRC came to inaugurate the work. Mr. Rodrigue suspended a project that was following the instructions of the President of the Republic. Therefore he was taken into custody immediately!" says Dr. Guy Mbayma.

ICCN however works closely together with SOCO International. Bantu Lukambu, director of local NGO Innovation for the Development and Protection of Environment (IDPE): "The coalition of SOCO International - ICCN is more than ever determined to silence all those who do not support the proposed oil exploration project in Virunga National Park."

At least four other environmental activists were arrested for opposing the project by Soco International at Nyakakoma. The arrest of the Head Ranger Mugaruka is therefore a reason for concern both for civil society as well as for executives of Virunga National Park, which are involved in this case according to ICCN.

Soco has obtained government permits for oil epxloration in block 5, which covers about 85% of Virunga National Park. The presidential order granting exploration and production of oil has been signed by the Head of State in June 2010.

However, since the enactment of this Ordinance, the exploration and exploitation of oil in the Virunga National Park met with resistance from ICCN, local politicians and environmental NGOs.

UPDATE 07 OCTOBER 2013:
Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo reunited with his family after more than 2 weeks detention!
 

Comments (7)

  • Green Consciousness

    Green Consciousness

    27 September 2013 at 00:45 |
    The Clinton Global Initiative just announced a big push against poaching so I wrote to them -- they have a contact email on the ABOUT tab and I asked them to save this man as their first priority -- You can do the same thing - hundreds of us should do the same thing

    reply

  • Green Consciousness

    Green Consciousness

    27 September 2013 at 00:57 |
    http://www.clintonfoundation.org/about/contact-us

    'info@clintonglobalinitiative.org'

    PLEASE GET THIS TO THE CLINTON FAMILY – DON’T BLOW THIS OFF – THEY SAID THEY CARE ABOUT POACHING SO HELP THIS MAN WHOSE LIFE WAS ABOUT STOPPING IT.

    ''Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo received the Abraham Conservation Award in recognition of the work done by conservation brave men who have the strength and courage to fight illegal activities that is degrading the Congolese heritage earlier this year.''

    ''The Head Ranger of the Central Sector of Virunga National Park, Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo, is held in jail already for five days by the National Intelligence Agency (ANR) in Goma.

    He was arrested by the military for opposing the execution of a project of UK oil company Soco International, local NGO partners in the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) explained on Tuesday, 24 September 2013.

    Soco has obtained government permits for oil exploration in block 5, which covers about 85% of Virunga National Park. The presidential order granting exploration and production of oil has been signed by the Head of State in June 2010.

    However, since the enactment of this Ordinance, the exploration and exploitation of oil in the Virunga National Park met with resistance from ICCN, local politicians and environmental NGOs.”

    reply

  • Ness webley

    Ness webley

    27 September 2013 at 07:17 |
    How dare anyone allow this,arresting a man who is acting with more care and conscience for the damage done than anyone ! Stop this stupidity and realise the world is now watching and demanding the nature is respected and preserved, even reclaimed for nature to resume its care of our planet!

    reply

  • E Galgut

    E Galgut

    27 September 2013 at 08:00 |
    Stop oil exploration in pristine areas.

    reply

  • Annbritt Karlsson

    Annbritt Karlsson

    27 September 2013 at 11:53 |
    Bort från Parken o dess invånare . O låt vakterna vara dom är guld värda

    reply

  • Nkusi Gerald

    Nkusi Gerald

    29 September 2013 at 17:54 |
    Let the whole world stand against this selfish ambitions of the Governments and Leaders in destroying the Environment and Wildlife Habitat . ALCDI Uganda is with you in the struggle .

    reply

  • erasmo

    erasmo

    14 November 2014 at 18:31 |
    A ONU deveria proteger Virunga; que é patrimônio da humanidade.

    reply

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