October 9th, 2013 Headsman
On this date in 1968,* Congolese revolutionary Pierre Mulele was shot by firing squad in Kinshasa.
Trained up in Maoist doctrine in China, Mulele took to the country to launch a strange insurrection from Kwilu, then fled to neighboring Republic of the Congo (aka Congo-Brazzaville, after its capital city) when that project collapsed.
Mulele was lured back to his home Congo in late September of 1968 under an amnesty extended by the Mobutu regime.
In retrospect, it might have been better not to trust Mobutu.
Foreign Minister Justin Bomboko … personally escorted the former rebel across the Congo River from the neighboring Congo Brazzaville, while Mobutu was on a private visit to Morocco. On his arrival, Mulele was feted over champagne and caviar. But Mobutu had hardly returned to Kinshasa when he announced that Mulele was not covered by the amnesty and that he would be tried as a war criminal.
He got a 15-hour military trial on October 8, with execution the very next day. Though the press reports aver merely that he was shot, Michela Wrong’s In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in Mobutu’s Congo** reports a quite more grisly spectacle.
tortured to death by soldiers. His eyes were pulled from their sockets, his genitals ripped off, his limbs amputated one by one as he slowly expired. What remained was dumped in the river.
That sounds … unsanitary.
As a result of this state perfidy — “an act of kidnapping and of international piracy” against an “authentic heir to the ideal which inspired Patrice Lumumba,” in the undiplomatic official statement† — Congo-Brazzaville broke off diplomatic relations with Congo-Kinshasa.
* Some sources have Mulele’s execution on Oct. 3, but the contemporary newspaper reports make clear that Mulele was tried on the 8th and shot on the 9th. Oct. 3 appears to be the date Mobutu publicly announced that Mulele would not be covered by amnesty.
** This site has been in the footsteps of Mr. Kurtz as well.
† London Times, Oct. 10, 1968.
Also on this date
- 1569: Vladimir of Staritsa, royal cousin
- Feast Day of Saint Denis, cephalophore
- 1401: Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan, an army marching on his stomach
- 2002: Aileen Wuornos, Monster
- 1967: Ernesto "Che" Guevara