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Three Chinese citizens were condemned to 4 months of penal servitude and to pay 1 million Congolese Francs in fines ($504) for ordering Congolese soldiers to inflict “degrading and humiliating treatment” on illegal Congolese miners in the mining town of Kolwezi, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as reported by the INITIATIVE LUALABA YA BIS.
According to the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC), the mine workers ordered two soldiers of the FARDC to beat up and mistreat the artisanal miners.
“The army proceeded to the arrest and then the transfer of these two soldiers and their Chinese accomplices”, army spokesman Leon-Richard Kasonga said in a statement.
On Twitter, the INITIATIVE LUALABA YA BIS profile shared a video of the crime. The video began circulating this week although it’s not confirmed as to when it was filmed.
“We severely condemn the action taken by our FARDC to whip our compatriots on the orders of the Chinese in a cobalt mine! Regardless of the fault committed,” the organization posted.
Southern Congo sits atop an estimated 3.4 million tonnes of cobalt, almost half the world’s known supply. In recent decades, hundreds of thousands of Congolese have moved to the formerly remote area. Artisanal miners extract cobalt by hand in precarious conditions, often working on illegal or only semi-regulated sites.
Illegal miners often make forays into mines legally assigned to Congolese or foreign industrial operators, causing similar incidents.
According to the South China Morning Post, a Chinese company is officially authorized to operate the mine where the crime took place.
Related read: What China’s increasing control over cobalt resources in the DRC means for the West – report