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Les peuples autochtones et les violations de droits à l’Est de la RDC

Les peuples autochtones et les violations de droits à l’Est de la RDC
Les pygmées sont d’origine un peuple nomade, en général de cueilleurs et chasseurs et pêcheurs, ayant le premier habité les pays d’Afrique Centrale et en particulier les forêts montagneuses dans la région de grands Lacs. Ils furent rejoints, puis supplantés par des bantous et de nilotiques, éleveurs et cultivateurs, plus sédentaires. Ils ont de liens étroits avec les forêts dont ils dépendent de ressources pour leur identité, bien-être, survie, et intégrité. Cependant, l’abattage de forêts par les agriculteurs et éleveurs depuis les derniers siècles et la création récemment des réserves naturelles, tel le Parc de Kahuzi-Biega, au Sud-kivu, les ont obligé d’abandonner de force leur habitat naturel et leur source principale de revenus. Certains ont créé de métiers de substitution, comme l’artisanat (fabrication de petits objets d’art), de danseurs, amuseurs… d’autres étant devenus dépendants du travail occasionnel ou ont recours à la mendicité pour survivre. Leur manque d’accès aux services sociaux de base perpétue le cycle de pauvreté Ainsi, se retrouvent-ils obligés de cohabiter avec les autres communautés mieux organisées, où ils sont objets de discrimination, par les cultures dominantes qui les méprisent de par leur origine ou leur mode de vie. Ils sont en plus objet de préjugés et stéréotypes, ce qui est à la base de la violation de leurs droits et autres violences dont ils sont victimes : attaques physiques ou sexuelles spécifiques à cause de leur identité ethnique, y compris les viols et le cannibalisme.
A l’Est de la RDC, les pygmées ont payé un lourd tribut des guerres et de l’insécurité qui s’en est suivie. Les forêts ayant servi de refuge aux différents groupes armés qui se sont affrontés depuis les années 1996 à ces jours, les pygmées ont été victimes des plusieurs massacres et de viols, à cause de certaines superstitions et croyances locales, selon lesquelles les relations sexuelles avec les femmes pygmées permettraient de guérir certaines maladies ou de rendre invincibles ou invulnérables aux combats, Ainsi, des enfants pygmées et mêmes des adultes ont été violés, tués, et leurs chairs consommées, du fait de telles croyances leur prêtant des pouvoirs surnaturels et mystérieux.
En Territoire de Kalehe, habitent de milliers de pygmées, en dehors de forêts, vivant principalement de la pêche au bord du Lac Kivu, de l’agriculture à très petite échelle, de l’artisanat… ou travaillant comme des paysans journaliers. Quant aux femmes pygmées, elles s’occupent en plus de la poterie, activité qui à ces jours n’est plus productive, les sources de matières premières ayant tari, et la concurrence due à la vente d’ustensiles plus modernes étant très forte. Ainsi, la majorité de pygmées, vivent sans terre et dans la plus grande pauvreté, dans des logements de fortune, inconfortables, insalubres et éphémères. Privés de forêts qui leur assuraient une relative autonomie économique et une place dans la société, les pygmées ont tendance à être la cible de discrimination de plus en plus visible. La vente de poteries, de miel, de viande et d’autres produits tirés de forêts leur permettait d’établir un lien économique et humain avec les autres communautés.
A cause de leur isolement et éloignement de milieux ouverts, les pygmées ont longtemps été exclus du système éducatif, pourtant gage d’amélioration du savoir et d’accès à l’information, au pouvoir économique et politique. Ils souffrent généralement de l’ignorence de leur droits, aggravée par l’analphabétisme…. D’où leur marginalisation et discrimination sur tous les plans. Pourtant, la société pygmée était marquée par des valeurs positives telle que : le sens de l’égalité homme-femme, le sens de l’art (tissage, tressage, bricolage, chant et danse, humour…), connaissance de la forêt et de la nature (plantes médicinales et secrètes,) et autres qui font d’eux de personnages redoutables et redoutés. Ils jouent un rôle important dans la protection du Mwami (Chef coutumier), qu’ils entourent partout. Ils divertissent la cour, par des contes, des chants et danses traditionnels.
Récemment, à cause de l’inaccessibilité de forêts et l’insécurité dans les villages environnants, en l’occurrence les assassinats ciblés et le phénomène « Kabanga » (étrangement par une corde, supposée magique) dont une femme pygmée a été victime, avec extraction de certains organes. Les pygmées, et les femmes en particulier, vivant sans terre propre, sans réserve ni économie substentielle, n’exercent généralement pas d’activités génératrices de revenus, faute de capital. Faute de moyens, et limitées par l’analphabétisme et la sous information, les pygmées ne savent pas s’organiser et sont ainsi moins compétitifs sur le plan économique, social et politique.
Afin d’apporter une réponse à toute cette problématique, l’asbl, Les Amis du Social du Sud-Kivu, ASK, ayant dans ses objectifs le renforcement des capacités et la promotion de leaderships de la femme et de la jeunesse, par la lutte contre la pauvreté, la promotion de la croissance économique, la promotion des droits humains de personnes défavorisées et vulnérables (surtout ceux de la femme et de l’enfant, les jeunes filles et garçons désœuvrés et sous-instruits, les minorités tribales), pense, comme tant d’autres acteurs que la véritable réponse aux problèmes de pygmées doit passer par le renforcement de leurs capacités socio-économiques de cette minorité, par l’accès au capital humain (éducation formelle et informelle, formation professionnelle), capital finaicier (services de microfinance), capital social (organisation, structuration, soutien communautaire), et le capital naturel (terre). Telles sont les préalables pour l’amélioration de conditions de vie de peuples autochtones et les conditions de leur participation à la reconstruction, la stabilisation et le développement de la RD.Congo, en ce grand rendez-vous de la mondialisation.

English translation by community member amys

Indigenous Peoples and Rights Violations in Eastern DRC

The Pygmies are a people of nomadic origin, who mostly lived from hunting, gathering and fishing. They first lived in the countries of Central Africa, in particular the mountainous forests of the Great Lakes region. They were joined, and then supplanted, by Bantus and Nilotic peoples, who were more sedentary livestock and crop farmers. They have close links with the forests, whose resources they depend on for their identity, well-being, survival and integrity. However, deforestation by farmers over the last few centuries, and the recent creation of nature reserves, such as the Kahuzi-Biega Park in the South Kivu region, have forced them to abandon their natural habitat and main source of revenue. Some have found alternative work, for example as craftsmen (making small art objects), dancers or entertainers, whilst others have become dependent on casual labour or have turned to begging to survive. Their lack of access to basic social services perpetuates the cycle of poverty. They are thus forced to live side by side with other, better organised, communities, where they are subject to discrimination by the dominant cultures, who scorn them because of their origin or way of life. They are also victims of prejudice and stereotypes, and because of this they suffer from rights violations and other types of violence, such as physical and sexual assaults specifically because of their ethnic identity, and even rape and cannibalism.

In eastern DRC, the Pygmies have paid a high price for the wars and insecurity that has followed. The forests served as a refuge for the various armed groups that have fought each other from 1996 up to today, and the Pygmies have been the victims of many massacres and rapes, because of certain local beliefs and superstitions which say that sexual relations with Pygmy women can help to cure certain illnesses, or make a person invincible or invulnerable in combat. Because of this, Pygmy children and adults are raped, murdered and their flesh consumed, which, according to these beliefs, passes on mysterious supernatural powers.

The Kahele Territory is home to thousands of Pygmies, outside of the forests, who live primarily from fishing on the banks of Lake Kivu, very small-scale farming, craftsmanship, or working as day labourers. As for the Pygmy women, they also make pottery, an activity which is no longer profitable these days, as the sources of raw materials have dried up and there is strong competition from the sale of more modern utensils. The majority of Pygmies are therefore landless, and live in the most severe poverty, in makeshift housing that is uncomfortable, unhealthy and temporary in nature. Deprived of their forests, which assured them relative economic autonomy and a place in society, the Pygmies tend to be the target of a discrimination that is becoming more and more visible. The sale of pottery, honey, meat and other forest products allowed them to establish an economic and human link with other communities.

Due to their isolation and distance from open areas the Pygmies have for a long time been excluded from the education system, the gauge of improving knowledge and access to information, and economic and political power. They are often ignorant of their rights, and this is aggravated by illiteracy. This leads to their marginalisation and discrimination against them in all areas. Yet Pygmy society was marked by positive values, such as: a sense of equality between men and women, a sense of art (weaving, crafts, singing and dancing, humour…), knowledge of the forest and nature (secret medicinal plants), and others, which make them formidable and awe-inspiring characters. They play an important role in the protection of the Mwami (traditional Chief), who they surround at all times. They entertain the court, with traditional stories, chants and dances.

Recently, because of the inaccessibility of the forests and the insecurity of the surrounding villages, there have been incidents of targeted murders, and the phenomenon of “Kabanga” – strangling with a supposedly magic rope – which a Pygmy woman has been the victim of, with the extraction of organs. The Pygmies, and women in particular, living without their own land, and without any reserves or economy to speak of, do not usually exercise any profit-making activities, due to lack of capital. Lacking means, and limited by illiteracy and under-information, the Pygmies are unable to organise themselves and are therefore less competitive economically, socially and politically.

In response to this problem, organisations such as the ABSL, Les Amis du Social du Sud-Kivu, and ASK –whose aims include training and leadership promotion for women and young people, the fight against poverty, promotion of economic growth, and the human rights of disadvantaged and vulnerable people (especially women and children, unemployed and under-educated young people, and tribal minorities) – think, as do many other key players, that the real response to the problems of the Pygmy people must start with reinforcing the socio-economic capacities of this minority, through access to human capital (formal and informal education, vocational training), financial capital (microfinance services), social capital (organisation, structure, community support), and natural capital (land). These are the prerequisites for improving the living conditions of indigenous peoples, and the conditions of their participation in reconstruction, stabilisation and development in the DRC, in this great coming-together that is globalisation.

Comments

amys's picture

Translation

Indigenous Peoples and Rights Violations in Eastern DRC

The Pygmies are a people of nomadic origin, who mostly lived from hunting, gathering and fishing. They first lived in the countries of Central Africa, in particular the mountainous forests of the Great Lakes region. They were joined, and then supplanted, by Bantus and Nilotic peoples, who were more sedentary livestock and crop farmers. They have close links with the forests, whose resources they depend on for their identity, well-being, survival and integrity. However, deforestation by farmers over the last few centuries, and the recent creation of nature reserves, such as the Kahuzi-Biega Park in the South Kivu region, have forced them to abandon their natural habitat and main source of revenue. Some have found alternative work, for example as craftsmen (making small art objects), dancers or entertainers, whilst others have become dependent on casual labour or have turned to begging to survive. Their lack of access to basic social services perpetuates the cycle of poverty. They are thus forced to live side by side with other, better organised, communities, where they are subject to discrimination by the dominant cultures, who scorn them because of their origin or way of life. They are also victims of prejudice and stereotypes, and because of this they suffer from rights violations and other types of violence, such as physical and sexual assaults specifically because of their ethnic identity, and even rape and cannibalism.

In eastern DRC, the Pygmies have paid a high price for the wars and insecurity that has followed. The forests served as a refuge for the various armed groups that have fought each other from 1996 up to today, and the Pygmies have been the victims of many massacres and rapes, because of certain local beliefs and superstitions which say that sexual relations with Pygmy women can help to cure certain illnesses, or make a person invincible or invulnerable in combat. Because of this, Pygmy children and adults are raped, murdered and their flesh consumed, which, according to these beliefs, passes on mysterious supernatural powers.

The Kahele Territory is home to thousands of Pygmies, outside of the forests, who live primarily from fishing on the banks of Lake Kivu, very small-scale farming, craftsmanship, or working as day labourers. As for the Pygmy women, they also make pottery, an activity which is no longer profitable these days, as the sources of raw materials have dried up and there is strong competition from the sale of more modern utensils. The majority of Pygmies are therefore landless, and live in the most severe poverty, in makeshift housing that is uncomfortable, unhealthy and temporary in nature. Deprived of their forests, which assured them relative economic autonomy and a place in society, the Pygmies tend to be the target of a discrimination that is becoming more and more visible. The sale of pottery, honey, meat and other forest products allowed them to establish an economic and human link with other communities.

Due to their isolation and distance from open areas the Pygmies have for a long time been excluded from the education system, the gauge of improving knowledge and access to information, and economic and political power. They are often ignorant of their rights, and this is aggravated by illiteracy. This leads to their marginalisation and discrimination against them in all areas. Yet Pygmy society was marked by positive values, such as: a sense of equality between men and women, a sense of art (weaving, crafts, singing and dancing, humour…), knowledge of the forest and nature (secret medicinal plants), and others, which make them formidable and awe-inspiring characters. They play an important role in the protection of the Mwami (traditional Chief), who they surround at all times. They entertain the court, with traditional stories, chants and dances.

Recently, because of the inaccessibility of the forests and the insecurity of the surrounding villages, there have been incidents of targeted murders, and the phenomenon of “Kabanga” – strangling with a supposedly magic rope – which a Pygmy woman has been the victim of, with the extraction of organs. The Pygmies, and women in particular, living without their own land, and without any reserves or economy to speak of, do not usually exercise any profit-making activities, due to lack of capital. Lacking means, and limited by illiteracy and under-information, the Pygmies are unable to organise themselves and are therefore less competitive economically, socially and politically.

In response to this problem, organisations such as the ABSL, Les Amis du Social du Sud-Kivu, and ASK –whose aims include training and leadership promotion for women and young people, the fight against poverty, promotion of economic growth, and the human rights of disadvantaged and vulnerable people (especially women and children, unemployed and under-educated young people, and tribal minorities) – think, as do many other key players, that the real response to the problems of the Pygmy people must start with reinforcing the socio-economic capacities of this minority, through access to human capital (formal and informal education, vocational training), financial capital (microfinance services), social capital (organisation, structure, community support), and natural capital (land). These are the prerequisites for improving the living conditions of indigenous peoples, and the conditions of their participation in reconstruction, stabilisation and development in the DRC, in this great coming-together that is globalisation.

amys's picture

Merci Justin pour cet article

Merci Justin pour cet article très informative. En Europe, on entend parler du peuple Pygmy, mais toujours de manière très superficiel, donc c’est très intéressant de lire dans plus de détail sur leur culture et leur mode de vie. Mais les problèmes qui leur confrontent sont vraiment abominables. Le discrimination et le préjudice sont terribles où qu’ils se trouvent, mais quand ça arrive jusqu’au point que vous décrivez… J’espère que les choses changent pour eux, et c’est bien qu’il y a des organisations qui travaillent pour ce but. Je vous souhaite du courage pour répandre votre message, pour que le peuple Pygmy puisse devenir libre de la discrimination, la violence et la pauvreté.

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