The civil war in the Central African Republic is hitting major international news networks today because of a report released by Global Witness, which stated that European timber companies are knowingly bankrolling the violence in the country. The report found that Chinese, French and Lebanese companies have wittingly participated in deals with the rebel group, Seleka, who in a coup in 2013 overthrew the government of François Bozizé. The rebels are no longer in power but that doesn’t mean the violence has stopped and nor has the corruption.
Global Witness have proved that even though thousands of innocent people are being tortured and killed on a daily basis in the country, these companies are continuing to log, sell and trade wood from the forests. They use bribes to pay their way in order to access the timber and make major profits even though it is not sourced legally or sustainably. In no way do these profits go to helping the impoverished people of the Central African Republic instead it simply perpetuates the violence by funding the militia group. The companies have paid an estimated EUR 3.4 million for so called “protection” and other such “services” from the Seleka, which has funded the procurement of more weapons and the continuation of the conflict.
These companies have also paid an estimated EUR 127,864 in bribes to the “anti-balaka” militias in order to stay in the forested South-West of the country. The report said that it is the European companies who have the greatest hand in this tragedy consciously supporting the militias.
Why has no one taken any action to stop these companies funding the human rights atrocities committed in the Central African Republic? Why has the international community not stepped in and tried to stop these massacres? How can these companies be so profit obsessed that they don’t even care about the lives that are being lost? The only reason this has made the news is because a Western recognised source has published a report calling the people who are involved out on their complicit support of a civil war.
In a video produced by Global Witness they show a secretly filmed interview with a representative of the French logging company based in Nice, Tropica Bois. When asked whether the rebels in the Central African Republic posed any threat to the company the representative answered;
“Yes. But so far nothing’s happened. Until the situation stabilises there’ll always be threats. But it’s Africa. It’s so common we don’t really pay attention. It’s not really a concern. It’s not a war where they attack white people. It’s not a war we have to avoid.”
African lives don’t matter to these companies; they only care about their profits and consumers. As long as they get what they want they will happily contribute to the killing of thousands.
The profit driven economies of the West have no place in Africa, we need to find our own way, to raise our voices as one and block both the West’s immorality and China’s opportunism. We need a movement to sweep across Africa and make people understand that we will not idly stand by and watch as Western loggers scar our ancestors’ lands and play our rivalries against each other for their own profit. We will not be silent whilst watching thousands of African lives lost in senseless violence. We need to ban together and fight corruption and pave our own way to freedom. We and everyone else have to remember that #AfricanLivesMatter!