Video: buying Congo timber for beer and soap

Posted by jamie — 13 September 2010 at 12:22pm - Comments

In these next two episodes, actress Marion Cottilard continues her journey through the Congo rainforest. Here, she sees first hand the wreckage left behind by the logging companies working in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

As we've heard many times before, the companies get permission to log from the local villages by promising to build schools and clinics, but these often never materialise and if they do, they're hopelessly inadequate. Or logging rights are sold for salt, beer and soap when the timber fetches thousands of dollars.

Video: Marion Cottilard meets Congo loggers

Posted by jamie — 18 August 2010 at 5:03pm - Comments

The third and fourth films documenting Inception star Marion Cottilard's journey to the Congo see her head out into the rainforest.

After meeting her hosts in Oshwe and the local forestry administration, she follows Greenpeace campaigners to see timber the loggers have left behind. Despite including sizeable tree trunks, they've been abandoned because they won't fetch enough money to make it worth the effort.

Actress Marion Cottilard discovers the problems of the Congo rainforest

Posted by jamie — 6 August 2010 at 11:12am - Comments

In June, Oscar-winning French superstar Marion Cottilard - currently playing in Inception at all good multiplexes - took a trip to the Congo rainforest with Greenpeace campaigners to see for herself the effect that the logging industry is having on the forest and the people who live there.

Activist murder shows perilous side of campaigning in DRC

Posted by jamie — 9 June 2010 at 4:29pm - Comments

It's easy to forget that, even though we moan about discredited political systems and infringement of civil liberties, in the UK we don't actually have it that bad. It's rare that anyone in the UK would feel in danger for speaking out against the government but of course that's not the case in other parts of the world. A shocking reminder of this came with the news last week that a prominent human rights activist was murdered in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Floribert Chebeya Bahizire was the executive director of La Voix des Sans Voix (Voice of the Voiceless), an organisation he set up in 1983 to expose human rights abuses and injustice in the DRC. But last Wednesday in Kinshasa he was found dead in his car, and his driver is still missing. According to the news wires, there'll be an investigation into Bahizire's death but there are questions over how revealing it will be. So much so that an open letter has been sent to the president Joseph Kabila from over 50 human rights groups, advocating an open, impartial inquiry.

Of course, Greenpeace has a team in Kinshasa and the challenges of campaigning there are markedly different than from a comfortable office in London. Intimidation and murder against those working to improve the lives of those who are disenfranchised and disregarded is unacceptable wherever it happens, and with the 50th anniversary of independence for the DRC approaching at the end of the month, Bahizire's murder will cast a long shadow over the celebrations.

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