A decade after its creation, The International Criminal Court in the Hague – the world’s first permanent court for prosecuting international war crimes — has handed down its very first ruling, convicting Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga on charges of forcibly conscripting child soldiers into combat. The court found that Lubanga kidnapped children as young as 9 years old and forced them into combat.
Lubanga’s so-called “Union of Congolese Patriots” was one of the many ethnic factions fighting across the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002-2003. Those conflicts caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Congolese people.
Few western journalists did more to document the terror happening in Congo than photojournalist Marcus Bleasdale. Bleasdale is part of the VII Photo Agency, and over the last decade, he visited the country numerous times photographing all aspects of the conflict: the combatants, their victims, and the never ending struggle for control of Congo’s vast mineral riches.
Last year, we featured a photo essay that included some of Bleasdale’s most striking work from the Congo. But this essay primarily focused on a much happier side of life in Congo: the remarkable story of the Kimbaungist Symphony Orchestra in Kinshasa. Take a look.