One of the first news stories published by this website—on December 26, 2004—was a review of some very disturbing news about horrible abuses suffered by the Mbuti people in the D.R. Congo. After 16 years of very limited action to foster justice for the thousands of Mbuti victims, officials announced last week that one of the masterminds of the atrocities committed so many years ago has been arrested in Paris.
The 2004 news story reviewed the findings of a report provocatively titled “Erasing the Board,” issued by the prominent human rights organization Minority Rights Group International. It described their investigation of the crimes committed against the Mbuti and some other groups in their villages of the Ituri Forest in the northeastern region of the D.R. Congo.
The report described conditions in the Mbuti villages during their investigation. Rapes, murders, senseless slaughters of thousands of innocent, peaceful villagers were committed by marauding armies that coursed back and forth through the forest looking for the diminutive Mbuti to attack.
A press release issued by Minority Rights on January 4 this year indicated that Roger Lumbala had been arrested by French authorities in Paris for his crimes against humanity—the Mbuti—nearly 20 years ago. He controlled one of the two marauding armies from October 2002 until January 2003, the Rassemblement congolais pour la démocratie – National (RCD-N), during the period when they occupied the Ituri Forest area where the Mbuti villages are—or were—located.
Over 100,000 civilians were displaced during those campaigns. After peace accords were signed, the RCD-N forces were integrated into the army of the Congo. Lumbala went into exile, accused of aiding other rebel forces, and only returned to the DRC in 2017.
He became a member of the Congolese parliament but he was arrested during his stay in Paris and charged with the crimes committed during 2002-2003: trying to destroy the Mbuti.. The press release does not indicate how the Mbuti themselves are reacting to this development.