Both on the phone to me and to the media, Joshua has said that his human rights have been ignored on many occasions. Some have been mentioned in the media, and others I've heard about over time on the phone with my son. Others have come to my attention through the Norwegian Foreign Ministry. I have collected some of these breaches in this article. The reader should be aware that I am only mentioning some of the cases here: there is a lot we want to wait with. For one, we want to protect the boys against revenge attacks. Tjostolv has most likely experienced much of the same, but it's up to him and his family to decide if they want to release details.
Surrender and imprisonment - early hours of Friday 8th May.
When Joshua was arrested, he tried to give himself up several times, but several hundred shots were fired at him as he lay in a ditch. Several soldiers were shooting at him. Joshua had no weapon of any description. When the soldiers accepted his surrender, he was extremely harshly treated. Below is some of what the Foreign Ministry described as 'unacceptable treatment':
Joshua was tied up extremely tightly, whilst shots were still flying past his head. Everything he had with him was stolen. The rope they used to tie him had metal filaments. He was tied up so hard that he was worried he would be permanently injured. After that, he was kicked and hit extremely violently, with blows aimed at the kidneys. There was blood in his urine the following day. He was hit on the head several times with a torch. After that, he was dragged along the ground on his back with his hands still bound behind his back.
The villagers in the area gathered and abused him in several ways. Two simulated executions were performed. Bullets were shot so close to his head that he lost sight in his right eye for several hours. He still has ringing in one ear at times and also has problems with his shoulder.
Joshua was moved several times on Friday 8th and Saturday 9th May. His hands were bound so tightly that he was in great pain and had marks on his hands for days afterwards. He was often hit, both by the Police and civilians, and was nearly lynched several times on his way to Kisangani. He was held forth for derision in several settlements along the way. Both the Police and villagers had sticks and machetes. He was hit in the face and spat on. He was saved from lynching at the last minute several times. He was threatened with execution by the Police, the Military and the locals several times. It was often made clear to him that he would be eaten. (Cannibalism is practised in DRC.) He was given nothing to eat or drink during these days, and fainted several times from dehydration and the general mistreatment.
The procession reached Kisangani on Saturday afternoon.
They were first taken to the place they were told was the Governors mansion. The Governor got local TV to take video of him for propaganda purposes. After that, it was off to the military prison, where his life was again threatened and he was repeatedly hit with his hands still tied.
That evening, he met the lead investigator for the first time: Wavara. Wavara's bodyguard treated Joshua extremely roughly, and forced him down onto his knees with a loaded weapon in his face. Having been on the run in the jungle and not having had any food or water for 48 hours, Joshua eventually got a half bottle of water and a little food on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, from Investigator Wavara.
The guards didn't allow Joshua to urinate before Tuesday. It was a week before he was allowed to defecate, and only then in front of the guards, and during taunting. He was even poked with a bayonet on a visit to the toilet. It was pointless to wash before the following month of June, because of the constant humiliation and torment from the guards. The cells in the military prison were in a despicable condition. He was kept in a dark cell, for 23.5 hours per day, with up to 8 other fellow prisoners, for two months. In the beginning, he lay on a cement floor. To get food, medicine, go to the toilet, get visitors, etc., he had to bribe the guards. It is somewhat uncertain whether he himself was beaten by fellow prisoners, or whether he had to watch fellow prisoners being beaten. In the Central Prison, where conditions have been a little better, Joshua has had to hide in his cell for up to 3 days, to avoid being taken hostage by other prisoners, trying to get food. He was attacked by fellow prisoners when he and Tjostolv were first transferred there, but now they command high respect from their fellow prisoners.
Tricks from the investigating team:
- Chief Investigator Wavara's brother, who lives in Sweden, but who happened to be in the vicinity at the time, said that he was a doctor. He has worked, or still works, at the Congolese Embassy in Stockholm.
- Several military personnel pretended to be lawyers.
- Very many of the interviews took place without lawyers present and under constant threat of execution and with loaded weapons aimed at their heads. If there was a translator present, things were mistranslated on purpose, with statements being falsified after Joshua had signed them.
- He has also had to sign documents with loaded weapons, with the safety catch in the off-position, aimed at his head.
- An extremely senior officer interviewed Joshua with no-one else present. This person wanted pin-codes to all the bank and credit cards, and to admit that Joshua was working for Norwegian intelligence services. He became extremely angry when Joshua refused, and told him that he'd regret it immensely.
- Joshua was threatened with his family in Norway being murdered. Letters were confiscated and the two Norwegians were denied medical visits several times.
- During this whole time, Joshua was unaware of what he was being charged with. When the charges were presented to him, he was refused permission to have them translated to English and had to sign, not knowing what was written there.
- He was also given the opportunity to pay large bribes to Wavara and other officers.
A few small things from the first court case
Many of us have followed the first court case, so I just want to mention what happened 20th August. The two Norwegians were kidnapped as soon as the hearing was over for the day and driven to the old military prison. (At this time, they were held in the Central Prison in Kisangani.) For several hours, neither the lawyers nor the Norwegian authorities knew where they were.
Joshua (and Tjostolv) were again hit on the back with rifles, threatened with execution, and their captors attempted to push them into a cell full of LRA (Lord's Resistance Army.) (The point here was that they would be beaten up by the other prisoners in the cell: that's the way things work in DRC.) Several weapons were once again loaded and pointed at them. After several more hours with torment and persecution, the Norwegian representatives and the lawyers found them in the military prison.
A short summary
In the 6 months Joshua has been imprisoned, he has experienced, among other things, the following:
- Attempted murder (several times)
- Threatened with execution (many times)
- Experienced simulated execution
- Witnessed killing and torture of fellow prisoners
- Been threatened unsuccessfully into paying bribes
- Been lied to by the authorities
- Denied the toilet
- Denied food, fluids and medicine
- Denied medical visits
- Tormented in different ways
- Paraded in front of a lynch mob
- Denied legal visits
- Had all possessions stolen several times
- Been attacked by fellow prisoners
- Been forced to sign documents with a loaded weapon to the head
- Been tried by a military court in spite of being a civilian
The Foreign Ministry has informed me that Joshua has had medical visits when he has so requested.
This is not the case. He has been denied medical visits, both early and later in his captivity. Amongst other things, he's had malaria twice without getting medicine for several days. He has also most probably had typhoid fever again, without doctors being given permission to see him.
Kari Hilde French, 16th November 2009