(Published by, Jenny Dakosta Van Mputu, 05/02/2020)
The Democratic Republic of Congo is a country that has experienced an incredibledegradation of the conditions of human lives regarding its daily life. This has beenexperienced by several households living below the minimum poverty line. Thisdeplorable state was fueled by the political, economic, social and cultural crisis causedby the failure of the presidential, legislative, provincial, urban, municipal and localelections to be held within the constitutionally prescribed deadline. The frustration ofthe population was clearly expressed in its positive response to different calls forprotests from the Laic Coordination Committee (CLC), the various political corporationsof the opposition and from the civil society.As a reminder, the CLC acted more in the perspective of the bishops of the NationalEpiscopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) who believed that the President of theRepublic, Mr. Joseph Kabila had breached the so-called political agreement of the NewYear’s Eve of December 31, 2016. This last agreement was a way to alleviate thepolitical impasse that prevailed as stated in the previous paragraph. Under the goodoffices of the CENCO, the Presidential Majority (MP), the opposition with the platform‘Rally of Political and Social Forces Acquired to Change’ and the ‘Front for the Respectof the Constitution’, had all agreed on the organization of elections. The agreementincluded putting in place a government of national unity under the leadership of thepolitical opposition not signatory of the Agreement of October 18, 2016. This projectwas directed in its time by the late Etienne TSHISEKEDI.
Noting the apparent non-application of the New Year’s Eve Agreement, the populationsaw its ultimate hope of experiencing a political alternation sabotaged by the power inplace under the dictatorship of President Joseph Kabila. The country was then livingone of its greatest socio-economic crises. The President twice named two controversial Prime Ministers. He violated theconstitution and the Follow-up Council of the Agreement. The CLC therefore organizedprotestations events aimed at upholding the principles of the above Agreement. Thesevarious demonstrations were violently repressed by the security services. It was ahuman carnage. The power then put in place measures of restriction of civil liberties.In the pages that follow, we describe some of the human rights violations orchestratedby the Congolese state during the peaceful public demonstrations organized by thecitizen movements and the CLC.
OVERVIEW OF RESTRICTIONS ON PUBLIC FREEDOM
1.1. Public Manifestations of Citizen MovementsCitizen movements are associations of facts that demand the establishment of thestate of Rights and the restoration of Democracy. The young people who constitutethem are anxious to improve the conditions of social life currently precarious in thecountry as a result of impunity, corruption, misappropriation of funds and other unjustacts.In accordance with the Constitution and the laws in force, the citizens’ movementsorganize demonstrations to demand the well-being of the population. Unfortunately,these demonstrations are repressed by the police who arrest, torture and arbitrarilydetain people in inhuman conditions, without any judicial procedure.
Repression of the march of the LUCHA and ECCHA-DRC against the use of thevoting machine by the CENIClaiming the withdrawal of the voting machine through the peaceful march organizedby LUCHA to which ECCHA-DRC and other movements had participated, the policerepressed them by arbitrarily arresting 17 militants and detainees for at least two hours’time.
The activist KALONJI Tresor of the citizen movement ECCHA-DRC brandishes a bannerdemanding the withdrawal of the voting machine by the CENI
The citizen movement ECCHA-DRC denounces the massacres in BeniRegarding the massacres in Beni in eastern DRC, the citizen movement ECCHA-DRCorganized a demonstration of solidarity with the people of the city. Several movementstook part in this demonstration which was repressed by the police, arbitrarily arresting31 militants. They were detained for at least two hours at Camp Lufungula.
Arrest of activists during the solidarity march to the people of Beni organized by ECCHA-RDC
1.2. PUBLIC EVENTS OF CHRISTIANS
1.2.1.Description of the factsThe CLC initiated several peaceful and non-violent marches in the Kinshasa City-Province through the various parishes making up the Archdiocese of Kinshasa, todemand the effective and full implementation of the 31 December Global and InclusivePolitical Agreement, 2016. To this end, the CLC had in accordance with theConstitution, sent a newsletter to the Governor of the City of Kinshasa, followed bypress releases on various media (radio and television), written media and duringCatholic Masses for the organization of the march of 31 December 2017.The politico-administrative authorities were reluctant, not knowing what to do. They hadto take note of the newsletter from the CLC to ensure their sovereign mission ofsupervising these marches aimed at compelling President Joseph Kabila to respect theNew Year’s Eve Agreement. Several sociopolitical corporations across the country hadjoined the CLC initiative.
Several testimonies reveal that the police repressed with an extreme brutality thesedemonstrations, launching tear gas at the end of masses. The military profaned variousparishes and fired live ammunition on peaceful protesters who were unarmed butcarrying crucifixes, Bibles, rosaries and simply chanting Catholic Christian songs,especially those venerating the Blessed Virgin Mary. It should be noted that theseevents took place in the presence of the MONUSCO peacekeepers who were seenhere and there during the demonstrations.According to Aaron MUKALENGI (human rights defender and member of NICS-HR)present at the event, he listed 7 cases of people killed in Kinshasa.
Aaron also claims that the protesters were unarmed but the police used a remarkableand inhuman excessive force (search of pockets, confiscation of mobile phones,money, jewelry, watches, etc.) by attacking Christians, even within their parishes.On the twenty-first day of January in 2018, the CLC organized its second public eventto demand once more the application of the New Year’s Eve Agreement of December31, 2016, including the political relaxation and the cleansing of the electoral process.But, contrary to the public prescriptions, the CLC did not inform the public authority thistime, because of the freedom restriction measures put in place. In fact, the members ofthis movement had preferred to communicate through the media and social networksto prevent their arrest by the security services.To this end, the Governor of Kinshasa City banned the event after members of theCLC shone by their absence at the meeting of 20 January 2018 presumably organizedfor consultation with the political and administrative authorities. In addition, there wassome confusion in the fact that a section of the political opposition close to power,RASSOP / KASA-VUBU had also called for a peaceful march on the same dateprovided by the CLC.The day of 21 January 2018 was marked by a remarkable presence of heavily armedsecurity services, intelligence and the Republican Guard throughout the city ofKinshasa, carrying out systematic searches of vehicles.
organization of the protest. Unfortunately, the lawyers were not received by theGovernor.However, the youth of political parties in power called “red beret” had invaded the largeparish of the catholic cathedral ‘Notre-Dame du Congo’ under the impetus of theirleader Papy PUNGU on Saturday, February 24, 2018, desecrating the place so muchso that evening Mass was not organized. All this happened under the inactivepresence of the Police.Moreover, the information gathered shows that the repression of the demonstrationwith excessive and disproportionate use of force against peaceful demonstrators hadcaused two (2) deaths, one in Kinshasa and the other in Mbandaka. In Kinshasa, thehead of the “Collectif 2016” citizen movement, Mr. Rossy MUKENDI (below) wasloosely shot with two bullets at the right sides of his chest in the parish of Saint Benoit.He succumbed to internal bleeding. According to anonymous testimony, Major Carine LOKESO, commander of the “MountAmba Mobile Squadron” battalion, is herself the perpetrator of the assassination. Inaddition, the second death was recorded on the ‘Avenue de la Revolution’ in front ofthe Baha’i Church in the city of Mbandaka. The victim was a young child identified as Eric Boloko.
At the time of the demonstration, the Christians observed the presence around theparishes, especially the parish Saint Joseph de Matonge, of young leaders, this timewithout red berets but intimidating those who wanted to demonstrate. From thisperspective, some testimonies report that the young leaders received 5,000 FC each,while they hoped to receive 10,000 FC as it had been promised. It should be pointedout that the young leaders provoked the demonstrators as to violate the establishedperimeter so that they would fight but the Christians avoided confrontation with them.
1.2.2. Description of human rights violations
In this section, we illustrate some Human Rights violations perpetrated by the securityservices during the peaceful protests of Christians organized by the CLC. During thethree events, the Congolese State distinguished itself by its violation of the humandignity of citizens with opinions different from those of the ruling regime. These factsprejudged democracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country who is memberof the UN Human Rights Council.The DRC (member of the UNCHR) intentionally violated Human Rights governing bydefiance, intimidating and arresting citizens whose family members were traumatized.The purpose of all this was to force the people to silence. In addition, the statetruncated the information by also hiding its crimes to protect itself from prosecution,convictions and from international sanctions. There was also the manipulation of youngpeople who have committed inhumane acts against political opponents. These youngpeople were paid for this work, as succinctly mentioned atop.In the lines that follow, we explain the various human rights violations, including:violation of the right to information, violation of the right to the press, arbitrary arrest(abductions and illegal detentions), violation of the right to freedom of movement ,infringement of the right to life and security of person, infringement of the right toproperty (extortion) and infringement of the right to dignity (physical integrity).
a) Violation of the right to life and security of person
During all these peaceful marches, serious violations of the right to life have beenregularly committed. These attacks range from summary executions, targeted toenforced and involuntary disappearances. Most of these attacks were perpetrated orattributed to the defense and security forces, including: the GR, the PM, the FARDC,the PNC, the DGMIAP and the ANR.In their monitoring work, NICS-HR observers identified 15 cases of violation of the rightto life. Among the victims, there are women and children.Numerous hearings show that people were shot dead. As an illustration:- Mr. Héritier IBANDA SENGI, resident in Kinshasa on KIMONDO Avenue, n ° 4district NDANU – KINGABWA in the commune of LIMETE was killed onDecember 31, 2017 by bullet, by the elements of the GR;- Mr. KALALA BENA Hervé, resident on the avenue Bakery in the commune ofKIMBASEKE, was killed on December 31, 2017 by bullet by a member of theGR;- Jean-Baptiste LANDENE MULAMBA, resident in ONATRA camp, located onOUA Avenue in KITAMBO commune was killed on 31 December 2017;- Mr. FATAKI José, resident in the district KWENGE II, N ° 56 in the commune ofMATETE was killed by the elements of the PNC;- Mr. Godefroid NAMUISI, resident in Kinshasa, on BANDUNDU Avenue, No. 162,in KITAMBO commune, was killed on the day of December 31, 2017;
The aspiring Catholic sister KAPANGALA Thérèse alias Dechade, resident inKinshasa on avenue MATADI MAYO, No. 301, KITAMBO commune, shot deadon January 21, 2018, by a member of the PNC;- In the Kingabwa district, in LIMETE commune, a 19-year-old boy namedBenjamin MUNDILA, a pupil of the LEMVO School Group, who lives onANGENGA No. 25 Avenue in Kingabwa / Yaounde, was shot in his leg, onJanuary 21, 2018, he died, and 8 others were shot and wounded;- Mathieu MUAMBA MUKALA, a minor, residing on the avenue Solidarité N ° 18,MATADI district, commune of Masina, was shot dead on January 21, 2018, by amember of the PNC;- Benjamin MPUNGU, resident on Agenga Avenue No. 25, Kingabwa district, inLIMETE commune;- At the Kingasani-ya-suka stop in KIMBASEKE commune, a motorcyclist was shotdead;
In the commune of Masina, in district 3, on the LUMUMBA boulevard, a youngman of around 22 years old was shot dead, on January21, 2018, by a member of the GR;- At the parish of St. Augustin de LEMBA, a young man in his thirties was killed atclose range on January 21, 2018, by members of the PNC who beat the priest ofthis parish;- On the parish of Saint-Benoit, a young parishioner from Saint Adrien, RossyMUKENDI TSHIMANGA, coordinator of the collective citizen movement 2016,was shot twice in the chest on February 25, 2018, shot at close range by a policeteam led by Carine LOKESO, commander of the mobile battalion of MountAmba.- A young boy, resident on the Avenue of the Revolution in front of the BahaiChurch, city of Mbandaka, was killed at close range by a soldier while returningfrom the march of 25 February 2018. The angry young people of theneighborhood ransacked the Mbandaka III police training center and set fire tothe homes of a police chief and of the murderous policeman.
b) Infringement of the right to informationThe Congolese state deprived
the people of their right to information as Mr. EmeryOKUNDJI NDJOVU, minister in this field, instructed the telecommunication companiesto suspend the SMS service and cut off the Internet citing security reasons byMinisterial Order No. CAB / MIN / PTNTIC / EON / IA / MMW / 0734/2017. The real aimwas actually to prevent demonstrators from communicating, in violation of the UnitedNations Resolution A / HRC / 32 / L / 20 of June 27, 2016 guaranteeing human rightsof the internet. Following this internet blockade, the population did not have access toinformation on the internet during the organization of the various peacefuldemonstrations of the CLC.
c) Infringement of the right to the pressThe press was also victimized during the three peaceful demonstrations of the CLC.Especially:- The jamming on December 31st, 2017, of the media emitting in Kinshasaamongst them: radio Top Congo FM, radio Okapi, television Antenna A andRadio-television Satellite 1 “RTVS 1 in abbreviation”. The latter had disseminateda documented information relating to the CLC’s march
– In Kingabwa (in the town of Limeté), the police had molested the journalist WinnyKAMBUYI whose camera was broken at Saint Kizito parish. Winny was injuredafter being tortured;- At St. Michael’s Parish in Bandalungwa, the police arrested two correspondentsof the International Press Agencies during the report before being released fourhours later;
d) Arbitrary arrest (abduction and unlawful detention)- In Ngaliema commune, specifically in Malweka, two gentlemen in the Lukunganeighborhood were arrested by the police, who accused them of filming them.The first was undressed and was left naked in front of his wife and children,before being embarked in a police vehicle for an unknown destination;- At St. John the Baptist Parish in Bumbu, a priest was arrested;Moreover, in the city of Mbuji-Mayi:- A gentleman named Innocent Mbuyi was the victim of an attack by two soldiersof the DRC armed forces when he wanted to ring the morning bell at SaintGerard parish. He had received a stab in his left hand;
– In Bipemba commune, 14 young people including a student, TshimangaMubwabwa from G1 right of Mbuji-Mayi University, were arbitrarily detained bypolice and were released 7 days later;
e) Infringement of the right to freedom of movementObservers noted that many roadblocks erected by the army and police appeared to bea deterrent to prevent Catholic worshipers from accessing their respective parishes formorning Mass. At these roadblocks, identity checks were carried out and the passageof certain persons considered as belonging to the political opposition was forbidden.Several barriers turned into racketeering posts.This infringement of the freedom of movement was translated as an “alleged curfew”.
f) Infringement of the right of ownership and (extortion)- in the commune of LIMETE, on the LUMUMBA Boulevard, at the 17th street, ourobservers found that elements of the PNC committed to this barrier strove todelight motorcycles when they considered that their owners were not in order andinflicted on-spot penalties of up to one hundred thousand Congolese francs(100,000 Fc), before recovering the motorcycle. All these barriers were lifted onSunday around 1pm.- The director of a school and his wife residing in the commune of MUYA werevictims of extortion of a sum of 60,000 FC and 50 USD belonging to the fund ofthe association of young married Catholics (AJEMAC). This extortion was
perpetrated by the police and military. These elements of the army and the policealso extorted shoes, a loincloth and a pair of lady slippers belonging to the wife ofthe director. Also, this group of soldiers and policemen blamed the lady untilstabbing her forehead with a bayonet. Subsequently, the director was sent to theprovincial police inspectorate after the police launched tear gas.
– At Bena TSHIBUABUA, the police arrested a gentleman coming out of his plotthat we could not identify. His phone was extorted as well as the money he hadin his pocket.
– At the KALALA WA NKATA roundabout shootings were heard as being involvingsome of the children from the market. On this however, no record has beenestablished;
– At the level of the Church ‘City of Refuge’ in the commune of DIULU a generatorwas confiscated by military conditioning its withdrawal to the payment of a certainamount of money.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Of all the above situations related to human rights violations committed during thethree marches organized by the Lay Coordination Committee, NICS-HR urges theCongolese authorities to listen attentively to the cry of the people of the DR Congo.This is definitely not the way of running a democratic country. If the people’s voice isnot heard, their claim will not cease.
This people need to enjoy their fundamental freedoms confiscated for political ends,especially as elections are approaching. Only those people who are suffering today willhand over power to whoever they want. The Congolese people are being killedhelplessly to satisfy politicians in their quest for power, under the observation ofMONUSCO and the entire international community.The ONGDH NICS-HR condemns with the utmost energy all these documented humanrights violations. It recalls that human life is sacred. The state must respect it andprotect it.
With regard to the conclusions reached by the NGO NICS-HR, the followingrecommendations are made to the President of the Republic:
– Instruct the parliament to adopt urgently a proposed law setting the measures forthe application of freedom of demonstrations at the upcoming session;
– Dismiss from the exercise of any official function all those involved in therepression of marches resulting in loss of life,
– To bring to justice those elements of the defense and security forces whoseinvestigation has concluded that they participated in extrajudicial, arbitrary orsummary executions, and in general to any serious violations of human rights,international human rights law;
– Protect complainants, witnesses, investigators and their families from violence,threats of violence or any form of intimidation;- Ensure that public authorities and police officers are aware of and respect thebasic principles on the use of force and the use of firearms by law enforcementofficials, as adopted by the 8th United Nations Congress of 7 September 1990 forthe Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders.
For & On Behalf of the ASBL NICS-HR
Jenny Dakosta Van Mputu
( Deputy Executive Director National Executive Director )
Jenny DAKOSTA VAN MPUTU Human Right Militant, Fondateur et Président du NICS – Right Organisation humaine.
Sheffield, le 05 Fevrier 2020