Video in french and english
“You are killing our people” said Angela a Congolese resident of London. She was referring to the ongoing slaughter in the Congo that has cost the lives of 8 million people from 1997 to present. This part of Africa contains the precious resource known as Coltan. Coltan is found in many, if not all new technology. We are seeing the tearing up of communities and continents so that we can have the latest gadget or device.
There is a enormous gap between the African/black community and White Europeans. That was evident over the last couple of protests. The sense of danger some people experienced has lessened, due to the sterling work of activists, showing solidarity and gaining the trust of the Congolese. I spoke briefly to a photographer friend yesterday, they had experienced this on Saturday, some photographers were nearly attacked by a section of the Congolese protestors. One photographer even decided to wear a stab proof vest. Yesterday, there were more White faces in the crowd, but in my few not enough. It’s seems the bottom 1% isn’t as attractive as the so called 99%. Therefore there was a great absence of he Facebook warriors and celebrity activists. One day this will become the in thing to do, and I am 100% sure we will be tripping over them
Angela blamed white Europeans for the onslaught being felt on this part of the continent. I sensed a great anger inside her, for a time it was being directed towards me. thankfully, I have a get out card, I am Irish. Northern Irish to be exact. This fact, that was caused at birth, has managed to get me out of a few difficult situations. However, I could never understand the plight of the people’s of Africa, from South Africa, Rwanda to the Congo. It’s just on a different scale. What I can do though is show solidarity. It’s for this very reason that I disagree with the whole 99% idea, it’s one thing having to pay for an education, it’s another different level when you have to pay for someone’s iPhone, with your LIFE, or the lives of your family and friends.
The police were prepared not to be caught out again. They were there in great numbers, but so were the congolese, this march was easily more than triple the number of protesters than the previous Saturday. This is what happens when people are oppressed and beaten off the streets, they just come back stronger. The Congolese are off their knees and asking for justice, freedom and peace. The media blackout on the issue is no accident, while it pumps out lies about the Middle East, the latest soap star to get a facelift and who is expected to get Christmas number one, the West has the hands in the till, if they aren’t robbing oil in the Middle East they’re raping Africa. Justice, freedom and peace is not a commodity, it’s a basic human right.
The protest slowly made it’s way towards and down Oxford Street there was a lot of engagement with the general public. The Congolese had come prepared with images of genocide and facts about the numbers of people killed. Christmas shoppers stopped on many occasions to ask what the protest is about, some even asking how they could help. An encouraging sign, in times when dog eat dog was never so apparent.
Suddenly there were shouting, chanting and many of the crowd were pointing and booing. We had reached the Apple Store. It was shortly after this that someone in one of the offices above put a sign out supporting Kabila. Kabila is the western appointed dictator in the DRC. The Congolese accuse him of acts of genocide and crimes against humanity. I have no reason to disbelieve them.
The police had come prepared with TSG, Evidence Gathering Teams, Dogs, Fences Vans, LED signs, and twitter. On reflection, all of the FIT teams who have caused conflict in the past at demonstrations were not present. the Jeremy Hunt’s, Discombe’s, QK 332 and the like. Maybe our naming and shaming them really does work. They certainly seemed to pull back from the aggressive intelligence gathering activities.
Initially, I thought this was going to be a bloodbath. Especially when the Congolese asked for all women and children to leave. The static protest at the end of the march was due to finish at 6pm. Thankfully the MET seen sense and didn’t go into aggressively clear the area. The Congolese left on their terms, they slowly walked down Whitehall blocking all traffic and for a time Trafalgar Square.
My friend and I were commenting on how successful it had been, since 2pm central London had been disrupted and the plight of the Congolese was highlighted in a dignified way. To my knowledge at that stage there had been no major incidents and few if anyone arrested at all.
However, the MET were going to have their pound of flesh, after all the FIT teams were stood down. A kettle formed facing Charing Cross station, initial reports were that everyone was being detained for a possible breach of the peace, yes I know, that old chestnut. It was after 10pm before everyone was released. Not before they were photographed and identified. Even the Legal Observers were searched and attempts made to take their pictures.
Munching on a mince pie with a piping hot cup of coffee in the shadow of Big Ben, it’s was time for home.