THE Democratic of Congo’s (DRC’s) security forces arrested at least 20 people who were protesting a decision that artisanal miners working illegally at Kamoto Copper Mine (KCC) should be removed from the premises.
General Philemon Yav, deputy inspector of the DRC’s police services, told Associated Press (AP) in a report republished by The Washington Post that about 20 protestors were arrested in Kolwezi. A local civic organisation said 50 people were detained, however.
Nearly 2,000 small-scale miners demonstrated in front of the governor’s office in Kolwezi to demand that authorities allocate a site for them to mine. Most were dispersed by police who shot in the air but some were arrested, said AP.
Police had been earlier deployed to KCC mine to prevent the illegal miners from working there. Glencore confirmed that the Congolese military was also deployed in the Kolwezi area in case there was trouble at the mine.
On July 4, Glencore’s KCC urged the DRC’s armed forces (FARDC) to exercise restraint in how it removed the miners from the property.
“KCC has communicated its expectations to the FARDC to exercise restraint and operate in accordance with Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and international human rights standards,” the company said. “This includes the principles relating to the use of proportionate force and provision of medical aid.”
The effort to move the miners out of the Glencore mine comes after at least 43 illegal miners were killed last week in a landslide at KCC’s premises.
Despite Congo’s mineral riches most Congolese live in poverty and many risk death by mining illegally in dangerous conditions, said AP.