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Second Urgent SOS from Virunga Park: ICCN Conservationists Torture School Principal

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Georgianne Nienaber       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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This should be considered a human right’s violations report.

OpEdNews received an urgent plea from the Democratic Republic of Congo today. On September 27, 2007, Raphael Muhindo YALALA, Director of the Lulimbi Primary School, and headmaster of the Nyakakoma secondary school, was savagely beaten and tortured by conservationists working in Virunga National Park, DRC.


Yalala is married and the father of two children. This is yet another in a series of atrocities perpetrated against the people of Kivu province by so-called animal conservationists. OpEdNews and COA News have reported extensively on the graft, corruption, and misuse of American tax dollars in this region. Virunga Park and the same conservators and conservationists who tortured Yalala recently received $496,000 of new funds for wildlife conservation from the United States Congress. According to a State Department press release, poaching, armed conflict and “demographic pressures” were justification for the grant.

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This report was released to OpEdNews by Paul LUGHEMBE of S.E.A., an animal rights and humanitarian organization based in the Great Lakes Region of central Africa. This same organization has been tracking gorilla trade and smuggling in the region. Lughembe fully realizes that he can be arrested and tortured for making this report. Hopefully, by shining some light into this dark corner of covert activities in Virunga Park, we will offer him some protection.

“Our cause is noble; let us speak for voiceless; your support is needed at this crucial time. We believe that any time we can loose our lives due to making noise through such reports, but we truly believe that one day unspoken truth will be known and spoken on the top roofs,” Lughembe wrote today.

The following is the narrative of what happened.

On September 29, a gamekeeper in Virunga Park by the name of MUKOMGOLI killed a hippo and offered some of the meat to the school director, Yalala. Hippos are a protected species. So are humans, and you cannot eat hope for a better future. The following day, September 30, the Park conservator whose name is KAMBALE KIPIRI-DILERE sent his bodyguard to order Yalala to report immediately to the conservation compound because Yalala’s name was found on a list of people who ate bush meat (hippo).

When Yalala reported to the compound, he was questioned about the meat he received from the Virunga Park gamekeeper and he admitted that “of course” he was given a piece of meat, but the meat was gone since he fed his family with it. Yalala also confirmed that the ICCN gamekeeper Mukongoli provided the hippo.

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The Lulimbi station conservator, KIPIRI, proceeded to use strip the shirt off of the school principal and whipped him ferociously with a piece of hippo skin. Yalala was beaten until he lost consciousness and stopped breathing. The beating stopped and the sentries were ordered to drag the unconscious Yalala to a jail cell where he was left, abandoned and unattended.

The following morning an unnamed “conservationist” took Yalala into a public courtyard and proceeded to torture him in order to demonstrate his authority.

Children who were on their way to school saw their director being beaten and humiliated in the mud. In response and in horror, they ran quickly to alert their classmates. In a stunning act of bravery, all of the children ran to the conservation station and ordered the immediate liberation of their director.

At that point, the conservator ordered his game rangers to shoot the children. Luckily, the children were all family of the gamekeepers and the instructions to shoot were not obeyed, “because they were afraid to kill their own children.” Instead, they shot into the air and around the pupils.

Undaunted, the pupils set fire to the sentry box, broke down the jail door, but were unable to liberate the director.

The conservator KIPIRI and his game rangers fled to Kipiri’s residency in order to save their lives. Shortly after being welcomed back to school by their teachers, two gamekeepers arrived. One, whose name is Timoro, beat a teacher, Jean Pierre Bigate, on the head with a stick. The second gamekeeper, Derouge-Mundeke, wounded another teacher whose name is Kakule Tsongo.
Finally, the conservator called for help from the PNC (Congolese National Police) in order to rescue and protect himself. The police arrived with other well-armed security officers and ANR (National Agency of Investigation) officers.

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“Really it was sorrowful to see a conservationist act as small god in this area. Every time we have been denouncing many facts and these days such practices have taken a high stage.

“Not a long time ago; a gamekeeper was arrested in traffic of ammunitions to poachers, and commandant ordered to his soldiers to kill animals for his wedding. We regret to realize that these practices do still continue, Lughembe reports.

Evidently, the conservationist-conservator, Kipiri, had a score to settle with the school director Yalala, and set him up with the “gift” of hippo meat.

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Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative environmental and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota, New Orleans and South Florida. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill (more...)

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