NKUNDA ON JOURNALISTS & GORILLAS
A week and a half ago - three weeks after giving his NKUNDA LAST CONGO INTERVIEW on January 3, 2009 - Laurent Nkunda was arrested by Rwanda after being lured there under pretense of discussing the implementation of the Nairobi peace accords dedicated to attacking Congo's negative forces - the genocidal Rwandan Hutus and Congolese Mai-Mai, among others.
Laurent Nkunda arrested in Rwanda. London Guardian, Jan 22, 2009
Since that time, not a word has been heard from Nkunda - except from the Rwandan authorities saying that he is not in prison but in a safe house.
I pray this is true but my journalistic skepticism is that I can't really believe it until I hear it from his own words. I don't understand why no journalist has had access to Nkunda since his arrest - or if they have why they aren't reporting what Nkunda has to say. Being satisfied that he is safe would be a tremendous relief to we who believe in his cause for Congo, including the millions of people - and animals - he was protecting. ~ Jackie Jura
NKUNDA GEURILLA GORILLA TOURS
NKUNDA CONGO CREDENTIALS ("...If I can tell you what I know about these gorillas, it's that they are so comfortable for me because.... this is my born area. And I'm a local chief here. If I was not in the army you would have found me in Bunagana as a local chief...Yes, I'm a local chief of this area. These gorillas are in my born area and in my local responsibility area. I have their interest to protect them and to let them grow."...)
Now excerpts of Nkunda last Congo interview discussing gorillas (questions in italics):
If you remember in 2006 - when there were some gorilla killings - everybody blamed you immediately. There was no proof, but you were blamed and since then you are always portrayed in a very negative way in Western media. Would you say that's true?
I heard about. No it's not true, and it was not true. Because even after that there were evidences that gorillas were killed in an area under control of the government forces.
And after that, some gorillas were even found in Goma when some of their - the one who was in charge of the regional Nature Conversation Bureau - was selling gorillas in Goma. And an investigation was heard by Kinshasa and the provincial director of ICCN was arrested.
I know the whole story...
Yes. It was only a campaign against CNDP.
But gorillas - there were now two group of gorillas at that time because we were in this area. I was only controlling this area under the three mountain you are seeing there. And the gorillas in our area were safe.
But on the side of Rumangabo - that's where gorillas were killed. And this area was not under our control.
We attacked Rumangabo only the last year - in August. But the two years - and even before - Rumangabo, and this gorilla site of Bukima, was under the government control.
So it was only, what can I say - a campaign against CNDP.
Are there any journalists that you trust, that you like?
Sometimes I met some from CNN. They did other things I didn't expect.
I met some from National Geographic magazine. They were here. They did somehow a report.*
Did you see that report?
Yeah, I saw.
What did you think of it?
It was...some deliberated reports and, it was balanced, balanced.
You thought it was balanced?
Yeah, there were many, many true things. Because they followed, also, the investigation about the director.
And when they met me I told them: Go and see where we are, and where gorilla were killed. And ask - instead of telling it from in America, from in UK, from .... You see. It's not normal; go and see. And they came....What I found in them - it was this volunteer, this will to come and see - and for me it was....Whenever you can be, whenever you can want to protect, the best way to protect is to go close to your.... If you want to protect the gorilla you have to come where gorillas are - not tell the story from America, from UK, from.... from Europe. No.
That's what I got from these journalists from National Geographic magazine. They came here and I showed them that they are going to be secured.
And even when they slept in our defence, gorillas came in the morning. And they saw gorillas in the camp because I took some rangers there. They were doing training to my soldiers to know how to take care of gorillas because they are - as they told me - gorillas are fragile. And they can die from only a small thing you give him. And my soldiers were trained in that matter - those who were working in this area.
So gorillas were very kind to them - as when they were coming they saw that they are not aggressive. Gorillas were thinking that soldiers are rangers - as far as they were very close to them. And my soldiers knew how to deal with them.
So these journalists from National Geographic magazine slept in our defence.
In the morning, early, they heard someone doing this (scratching) on the tent. And when they opened, it was gorillas.
So they say: Ah, is it true; can they come in your defence?
Then they called me - because I was in Masisi - and they said: What we saw is all that you told us. And I reply, I say: That is why I say to you: Go and see - not tell from Goma or Kinshasa; go and see....
People are using the gorillas as one way to condemn you, along with others. So I want them to understand that you understand how important gorillas are.
Of course. They have diplomacy; they have radio. The only way to show Nkunda as a criminal is to say that he is eating gorillas.
Yes. But even in our culture we cannot eat a gorilla. No.
You see, journalists also are coming for getting - I think - money. Because I was very disappointed by the behaviour of the CNN monitor who came here.
Do you remember the name of the of the person?
Yes, I can get it....
And he was led by a bandit. Just understand: The one who came last time - with this so-called panel, Security Council panel - he's a bandit. He's known in North Kivu and South Kivu like a bandit.
And he brought him?
He was doing business with FDLR in South Kivu. And when I see U.N. using him like an expert....
And he's the one who led the team from CNN.
But there is some kind of person I respect.
What's the kind of person you respect?
Only the one who tell the truth.
Tell the truth on me. Don't add - even in a way you think it will be good for me. No, don't add. But also, don't reduce. Tell the truth. Be in the middle. Because you are informing the world. The world is seeing you like the one who knows. You see? Yeah.
That's what CNN didn't do at the time. Because they came; they interview me. But when they showed on their TV - they cutted my voice. And they were speaking on my behalf. They put their own comments. And it was not good.
No, that won't happen.
We are in an area. Now you are in the area. That's why I said - when they told me that you are coming, and because you are involved, not from today, but in the nature conservation - that's why I said, even if it was not my time to receive - but I will receive you. Because you are not here for journalism. But you are here for the nature....
...And today, if you can go, you are going to see other things you never knew from here, or you never heard from here. Because now we've got many new families of gorillas. And even they are...they have many children...Yea, 10% of growth. It was established by the new director of ICCN, the provincial director of ICCN, a Belgian called Demeroid Emmanuel. He came here and he was very surprised because when I met him I told him if you came in Congo to protect gorillas, don't take care of what you want, or because you are appointed by the government. I said there's no problem you coming to protect the gorillas. I'll receive you like that, not like a governmental operative, but like someone coming to help to conserve the nature.
... If I can tell you what I know about these gorillas, it's that they are so comfortable for me because it's a...it's a...let me tell you, let me figure it....I told him that it is a wealth who cannot finish.
I told him that it's a wealth who cannot finish. I told him petrol, you can dig petrol and it will finish; you can have colton, or gold, or diamond but one day it will finish. But gorillas cannot finish.
And I tell always my guys - even the local population - that it's a work that will not finish. Instead of finish, it grows. When we are exploiting it, it grows. yeah, yeah, yeah.
And I always tell them - even the population - to protect the gorillas because the only wealth we can have in North Kivu is these gorillas.
And my soldiers knows very well that. And this is my born area. And I'm a local chief here. If I was not in the army you would have found me in Bunagana as a local chief.
You were the chief of Bunagana?
Yes, I'm a local chief of this area. These gorillas are in my born area and in my local responsibility area. I have their interest to protect them and to let them grow....
...When I tell you that you protect gorillas, you are protecting also the wealth for Jomba, for Rutshuru, for North Kivu. yeah. And to protect the gorillas, you are going to also develop these people, so that they can understand that gorillas are not a threat against them, but its wealth....
*National Geographic, July 2008 (Rebel general Nkunda, who prefers to be called the "Chairman," wages war against the Congolese army and Hutu militias from a farmhouse near Kirolirwe, just west of Virunga Park. Accused of using child soldiers and other war crimes, Nkunda claims he is protectng the Congolese Tutsi from genocide at the hands of the Hutu. He also claims he is a conservationist....)
Who murdered the virunga gorillas, National Geographic, July 2008
NKUNDA ARREST PUTS GORILLAS AT RISK. National Geographic News, January 23, 2009
NKUNDA'S CONGO CREDENTIALS
Going home: orphans of the gorilla massacre that shocked the world
Independent, Dec 3, 2009
Moving home is often stressful and sometimes positively traumatic. The last time Ndeze and Ndakasi moved it was horrifying. The two mountain gorilla babies had just been orphaned, their parents murdered in a dispute that led to the sacking of the director of Virunga National Park in eastern Congo. One of the orphan's fathers, Senkwekwe, became internationally famous as pictures of the silverback's immense corpse borne aloft on a bamboo trellis by grieving villagers ran in newspapers and magazines around the world. The massacres of 2007 left seven of the critically endangered mammals dead; they also left Ndeze and Ndakasi without a family. Ndakasi was found, at two-months-old, clinging to his dead mother, who had been shot at close range. The pair found themselves in the refugee city of Goma, an unstable mustering point for the human disasters that echo from Lake Albert through the volcano valleys of Virunga to the shore of Lake Kivu. It's a place ringed by refugee camps, periodically evacuated by Western aid workers and occasionally burned to the ground by the eruptions of Nyiragongo volcano to its north.... The rangers themselves had to evacuate from the park midway through last year when their base was overrun by the army of renegade general Laurent Nkunda. He is now under house arrest in neighbouring Rwanda and the team is back in the Mikeno volcano sector, guarding the great apes....
Rwandan Hutus threatening Congo gorillas (hide in Virunga Park after massacring civilians). OzAge, Jun 12, 2009
REMEMBERING MUTWARE THE ELEPHANT
NKUNDA & ORWELL PET GOATS
National Geographic Update, April 2009
Last July National Geographic reported on a dire situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Virunga National Park. In 2007, as a warning to the warden who'd thwarted a thriving illegal charcoal trade, local men killed seven of the park's mountain gorillas. Only 720 of the animals are left in the world. Soon additional violence in the park between rebels and government troops drove out Virunga's rangers entirely, and the mountain gorillas were left unprotected. Now the rangers are back. Virunga park director Emmanuel de Merode negotiated their return with rebel leader Laurent Nkunda. "It's a case of conservation ahead of politics," says photographer Brent Stirton, who has long covered the conflict. And the conservation news is good. Rangers discovered that five goirlla babies had been born in the 15 months since they'd last seen their charges.
Open letter to Time magazine on Ben Affleck & Congo, by Georgianne Nienaber, OpEdNews, Feb 16, 2009
Regarding Ben Affleck's essay on Congo, the first thing that assaults credibility is his description of the landscape as a "bucolic jungle." Eastern Congo is not a "jungle," it is forested in some areas, and it is certainly not "bucolic." I beg to differ with Mr. Affleck, as I have just returned from the region as an independent journalist. I have been working in the region since 2004. I also happened to interview CNDP leader Laurent Nkunda a week before his detention by Rwanda. Thank you to the Huffington Post for linking to the report(s) Australian Journalist Helen Thomas and I filed from DRC. Rwanda's forces did not "flush out" Nkunda. He went willingly to Gisenyi to meet with Kagame's representatives, where they betrayed him, and now have him under house arrest. I am in regular contact with civilian supporters of the CNDP who are grateful that we posted our unedited interview with Nkunda on YOUTUBE. Congolese refugees in Rwanda are demonstrating for the release of their "leader" Nkunda, but Time Magazine seems to not be reporting that fact. If Mr. Affleck has compelling testimony from Nkunda, why does he not make it available--for free? The fate of millions of people hangs in the balance now, and they do not have time to wait for Mr. Affleck's Hollywood documentary. Meanwhile, there has been MORE violence in eastern DRC, as reported by Human Rights Watch, since Nkunda's detention. I also find it comical to see the photo of Mr. Affleck being "patted down" while his "war correspondent" photographer looks on with his lens. Two small women went in with our Nikon and Canon cameras with no problem, no patting down, and no sense of threat. We had dinner with Nkunda after the interview and met with his family. Of course it is very "Hollywood" to gin up the reality of meeting with Nkunda to enhance the "bravery" of Affleck and his cameraman. This is not journalism. This is a Hollywood promo--a promotion sanctioned by Time Magazine.
NKUNDA'S CONGO CREDENTIALS (chief & son of chief in Bunagana)
Mystery deepens as Nkunda chapter is 'closed', by Josh Kron, East African, Feb 7, 2009 (Calling “the chapter on Nkunda closed,” the last Rwandan public official communicating to the outside world about the excommunicated Congolese rebel under their custody said today it was going off the radar. After promising new information, the Rwandan military has instead fallen silent, this time they say for good, in regard to apprehension of General Laurent Nkunda, leader of the dominant rebel group, the CNDP...)
Doubts/disbelief in Rwanda since Nkunda arrest (no photo/audio/video/literature of proof that he's staying somewhere decent; not punished). Kenya Nation, Feb 6, 2009
12 days after General Nkunda's arrest, doubts and disbelief reign in Rwanda. Kenya Nation, Feb 4, 2009 (...People are beginning to wonder if he’s been arrested at all. Nkunda maintains a Che Guevara-like popularity in Rwanda, where Hutu extremists slaughtered one million Tutsi and other Hutu moderates in the 1994 Genocide. “He’s been protecting his people in the Congo…” said popular Reggae musician Natty Dread. “I’m sad to see him arrested.”...To most, the uninterrupted silence is evidence of a long-suspected intimate relationship between Mr. Nkunda and the Kagame administration. “Can they give him to the Congo? No. If they give him to the Congo they will kill him,” says Charles Kabonero, editor of the best-selling newspaper in Rwanda. According to Major Rutaremara, Nkunda has been given no official legal status in relation to his arrest. He is “not being punished,”... But Rataremara has also said “arrest does not mean imprisonment,” a line he has repeated. He also says Nkunda is “staying some place decent,” and though his movements are limited, he isn’t necessarily being guarded closely. Amenities such as television have also been alluded to....)
Reader Sharangabo says people, especially journalists, are asking questions regarding how Nkunda was betrayed by people he thought were his friends
Congo Warlord Nkunda's Arrest Puts Gorillas' Future in Turmoil, National Geographic News, Jan 23, 2009
The political future of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Virunga National Park — home to about 200 of the world's roughly 680 mountain gorillas — was thrown into turmoil Thursday night with the arrest of Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda. Nkunda's rebel movement had held sway over much of the region in which Virunga is located since August 2007. When the rebels — called the National Congress for the People's Defense (CNDP) — took over the park, the government rangers working to protect the gorillas were forced to evacuate the area. After a 15-month-long absence, the rangers were able to return in November 2008 after the park's director, Emmanuel de Merode, struck a deal directly with Nkunda to allow his rangers to resume their work. It's unclear how that arrangement — and the protection of the gorillas — will be affected by Nkunda's arrest....In an interview last month with National Geographic News in Bunagana, Nkunda talked extensively about his plans to safeguard the gorillas and develop Virunga National Park as a tourist destination. Likening Virunga and its crowd-pleasing apes to natural resources, Nkunda said, "In other places they have petrol. We have the gorillas. The park is like our petrol; the gorillas are our fuel. These gorillas will remain and the national park will remain forever. We have to protect them."...
"There's been a very dramatic shift over the last 48 hours … the Congolese government forces have established authority over [the area]," said de Merode, the Virunga park director. Congolese government forces have been accused in the past of taking part in the illegal charcoal trade, which represents a major threat to the mountain gorillas and their habitat. Much of the charcoal is made from old-growth forest harvested inside Virunga National Park. It is unclear exactly who is now in charge militarily in the Virunga region. De Merode plans to travel Saturday to Rutshuru, a former rebel [Nkunda CNDP] stronghold near the park, where he will meet with the traditional chief of the area. "The chief asked me to accompany him to reassure the populations in the central part of the park," de Merode said. It's been only two months since the rangers returned to the park, and de Merode says it's critically important for them to be able to continue their work. "The thing about any national park is that it takes many years of hard work to build them up, to recover them, to reestablish them as healthy national parks, but it only takes a few days to destroy them," he said. "So we have to be there all the time to avoid that happening. At the moment our work is completely uninterrupted by these political events. But, he added, "the difficulties that we're facing are the same as the ones we'll be facing next week, next month, next year. We just have to keep going."
NKUNDA SAY UN CRIMINALS IN CONGO (transcript of interview)
NKUNDA SAY CONGO OWN RESOURCES (transcript of interview)
KABILA KILLS, RAPES & BLAMES NKUNDA (transcript of interview)
NKUNDA LAST CONGO INTERVIEW
FREE NKUNDA TO FIGHT FOR CONGO
NKUNDA GEURRILLA'S GORILLA TOURS
Congo Warlord's Arrest Puts Gorillas' Future in Turmoil, National Geographic News, January 23, 2009
Who murdered the virunga gorillas, National Geographic, July 2008
National Geographic, July 2008 (Rebel general Nkunda, who prefers to be called the "Chairman," wages war against the Congolese army and Hutu militias from a farmhouse near Kirolirwe, just west of Virunga Park. Accused of using child soldiers and other war crimes, Nkunda claims he is protectng the Congolese Tutsi from genocide at the hands of the Hutu. He also claims he is a conservationist....)
WEIGHING IN ON SILVERBACK
VISITING RWANDA'S RARE GORILLAS
GORILLAS CALLING TO RWANDA
THE PILGRIMAGE OF RECONCILIATION
KNOW NKUNDA CONGO
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~