1902 - Roger Casement
The Rubber Business and the Treatment of the Natives
On my leaving Bongandanga on the 3rd September I returned down the Lopori and Lolongo Rivers, arriving at J**. The following day, about 9 at night, some natives of the neighbourhood came to see me, bringing with them a lad of about 16 years of age whose right band was missing. His name was X and his relatives said they came from K**, a village on the opposite side of the river some few miles away. As it was late at night there was some difficulty in obtaining a translation of their statements, but I gathered that X's hand had been cut off in K** by a sentry of the La Lulanga Company, who was, or bad been, quartered there. They said that this sentry, at the time that he had mutilated X, had also shot dead one of the chief men of the town. X, in addition to this mutilation, bad been shot in the shoulder blade, and, as a consequence, was deformed. On being shot it was said he had fallen down insensible, and the sentry had then cut off his hand, alleging that he would take it to the Director of the Company at Mampoko. When I asked if this bad been done the natives replied that they believed that the hand had only been carried part of the way to Mampoko and then thrown away. They did not think the white man had seen it. They went on to say that they had not hitherto made any complaint of this. They declared they had seen no good object in complaining of a case of this kind since they did not hope any good would result to them. They then went on to say that a younger boy than X, at the beginning of this year (as near as they could fix the date at either the end of January or the beginning of February), bad been mutilated in a similar way by a sentry of the same trading Company, who was still quartered in their town, and that when they had wished to bring this latter victim with them the sentry bad threatened to kill him and that the boy was now in hiding. They begged that I would myself go back with them to their village and ascertain that they were speaking the truth. I thought it my duty to listen to this appeal, and decided to return with them on the morrow to their town. In the morning, when about to start for K**, many people from the surrounding country came in to see me. They brought with them three individuals who bad been shockingly wounded by gunfire, two men and a very small boy, not more than 6 years of age, and a fourth - a boy child of 6 or 7- whose right band was cut off at the wrist. One of the men, who had been shot through the arm, declared that he was Y of L**, a village situated some miles away. He declared that he had been shot as I saw under the following circumstances: the soldiers had entered his town, he alleged, to enforce the due fulfilment of the rubber tax due by the community. These men bad tied him up and said that unless he paid 1,000 brass rods to them they would shoot him. Having no rods to give them they had shot him through the arm and had left him. The soldiers implicated he said were four whose names were given me. They were, he believed, all employees of the La Lulanga Company and had come from Mampoko. At the time when he, Y, was shot through the arm the Chief of his town came up and begged the soldiers not to hurt him, but one of them, a man called Z, shot the Chief dead. No white man was with these sentries, or soldiers, at the time. Two of them, Y said, he believed had been sent or taken to Coquilbatville. Two of them - whom be named - he said were still at Mampoko. The people of L** had sent to tell the white man at Mampoko of what his soldiers had done. He did not know what punishment, if any, the soldiers had received, for no inquiry had since been made in L**, nor had any persons in that town been required to testify against their aggressors. This man was accompanied by four other men of his town. These four men all corroborated Y's statement.
These people were at once followed by two men of M**, situated, they said, close to K**, and only a few miles distant. They brought with them a full-grown man named AA, whose arm was shattered and greatly swollen through the discharge of a gun, and a small boy named BB, whose left arm was broken in two places from two separate gun shots - the wrist being shattered and the hand wobbling about loose and quite useless. The two men made the following statement: That their town, like all the others in the neighbourhood, was required to furnish a certain quantity of india-rubber fortnightly to the head-quarters of the La Lulanga Company at Mampoko; that at the time these outrages were committed, which they put at less than a year previously, a man named CC was a sentry of that Company quartered in their village; that they two now before me had taken the usual fortnight's rubber to Mampoko. On returning to M**, they found that CC, the sentry, had shot dead two men of the town named DD and EE, and had tied up this man AA and the boy BB, now before me, to two trees. The sentry said that this was to punish the two men for having taken the rubber to Mampoko without having first shown it to him and paid him a commission on it. The two men asserted that they had at once returned to Mampoko, and had begged the Director of the Company to return with them to M** and see what his servants had done. But, they alleged, he had refused to comply with their request. On getting back to their town they then found that the man AA and the child BB were still tied to the trees, and had been shot in. the arms as I now saw. On pleading with the sentry to release these two wounded individuals, he had required a payment of 2,000 brass rods (100 fr.). One of the two men stayed to collect this money, and another returned to Mampoko to again inform the Director of what had been done. The two men declared that nothing was done to the sentry CC, but that the white man said that if the people behaved badly again he was to punish them. The sentry CC, they declared, remained some time longer in M**, and they do not now know where he is.
These people were immediately followed by a number of natives who came before me bringing a small boy of not more than 7 years of age, whose right hand was gone at the wrist. This child, whose name was PF, they had brought from the village of N**. They stated that some years ago (they could not even approximately fix the date save by indicating that FF was only just able to run) N** had been attacked by several sentries of the La Lulanga Company. This was owing to their failure in supplying a sufficiency of india-rubber. They did not know whether these sentries had been sent by any European, but they knew all their names, and the Chief of them was one called GG. GG had shot dead the Chief of their town, and the people had run into the forest. The sentries pursued them, and GG had knocked down the child FF with the butt of his gun and had then cut off his hand. They declared that the hand of the dead man and of this boy FF had then been carried away by the sentries. The sentries who did this belonged to the La Lulanga Company's factory at O**. The man who appeared with FF went on to say that they had never complained about it, save to the white man who had then been that Company's agent at O**. They had not thought of complaining to the Commissaire of the district. Not only was he far away, but they were afraid they would not be believed, and they thought the white men only wished for rubber, and that no good could come of pleading with them.
Correspondence and Report from His Majesty’s Consul at Boma respecting the Administration of the Independent State of Congo