Over 130 people were arrested and placed in custody at various police stations across London after a demonstration held in Trafalgar Square on Saturday turned ugly. As almost a thousand people peacefully gathered, sang and danced whilst calling for genuine democracy, elsewhere tensions rose after a very small group young Africans became excitable near a choir singing Christmas songs to collect money for the Macmillan charity.
Police officers who were initially inert and deploying covert surveillance techniques, are then said to have become abusive and forcibly attempt to contain innocent campaigners in shops and on buses in alleged support of the singers whose choir leader has said ‘They [the DRC democracy protestors] were determined not to let us sing and have fun’.
The protestors have been charged with various offences including obstructing the highway, breaching the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act and assault on police.
The London campaign is part of a global movement of opposition to the re-election of President Joseph Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Similar protests in Congo have already led to the death of at least 18 people. It is argued that Kabila who is backed by western governments deliberately leaves grass root Congolese impoverished as a consequence of squandering the extensive mineral wealth of the nation for personal gain and foreign economic interests.
British Police arrest DRC protester
Kabila election ‘lacks credibility’
There have been several protests over this and the last week with gatherings taking place from Belgium to Whitehall, UK. They have attracted hundreds of participants and are largely attended by Africans of all ages and backgrounds. In Belgium, police closed the Brussel quarter of Matange which is a resident and shopping district predominately populated by the Congolese community before mounting an attack on African protesters.
Yet despite independent observers claiming that the DRC elections ‘lack credibility’ the story has largely been ignored by western media with only independent outlets like Indymedia and various Pan African news organisations publishing and supporting the protestors legitimate concerns.
President Joseph Kabila's main rival is Etienne Tshisekedi, leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDSP). In the November 28 vote, in which Kabila was declared the winner, The Independent National Electoral Commission state he took 49 per cent of votes, compared with Tshisekedi who is said to have secured second place with 32 per cent.
Scottish MP Eric Joyce is calling for Britain's Serious Fraud Office to investigate Kabila's awarding of mineral contracts worth billions at a loss making price to several multi-national “shell” type companies registered in the British Virgin Islands.
External LinksRemarkable media silence on Congo protestsCharges after Congo protestsDR Congo protests in London result in 139 arrestsMatonge : 50 plaintes pour violences policièresDR Congo opposition calls for protests
Top: DRC Protestors move up London’s Shaftesbury Avenue (Credit: Indymedia) Bottom: Belgium police launch attack on African protesters
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