Miners in protestTuesday, February 14, 2017 Emmanuel Freudenthal/IRIN
In May 2016, a delegation of miners met with MMR to request better prices, but the company refused.
Valentin and some of the others decided to strike and a large crowd of miners ended up blocking access to the mine. Valentin said they harassed no one but simply demonstrated, saying, “‘No organisations owned by foreigners will be allowed to come and conduct its activities… until the price is increased.’”
At the end of that day, MMR increased the price from $20 to $22 per kilo. The miners dispersed when the police reportedly fired shots in the air and returned to town.
But a little later on, more than a dozen protesters, including Valentin, were arrested by the mining police, tied up in MMR’s compound for several hours, and thrown into one of MMR’s cars and taken to Kalemie, half a day’s drive away, where they were jailed overnight.
There, they were accused of being armed rebels and only released after the provincial governor, Richard Kitangala, intervened.