4 LUCHA activists released, while 4 HRDs sentenced to prison
In a joint statement to the UN member states on 12th October 2017, 157 Congolese human rights associations petitioned the UN General Assembly to not elect DRC as a member of the UN Human Rights Council. The petition stemmed from the "serious violations of human rights committed by representatives of the government and security forces", including a decline in the protection of civil and political rights. Despite the Congolese human rights groups' request, DRC was elected to a seat in the the UN Human Rights Council with 151 votes.
Nos camarades Nicolas Mbiya, Cibuabua et Kadima respirent à nouveau l'air de la liberté, après +75 jours de détention arbitraire à Mbujimayi pic.twitter.com/3eQtRPBIl8— LUCHA (@luchaRDC) 3 oktober 2017
On 29th September, authorities released four activists from the citizen movement Lutte pour le changement (LUCHA), after they had spent more than 75 days in detention. Nicolas Mbiya, Josué Cibuabua, Mamie Ndaya and Josué Kabongo were arrested in Mbuji Mayi in July. As reported previously, Mbiya was arrested on 14th July 2017.
Meanwhile in Lubumbashi, on 30th August 2017 four human rights defenders - Jean Mulenda, Patrick Mbuya, Jean-Pierre Tshibitshabu and Eric Omari - were condemned to a prison sentence of eight months on charges of "provocation" and "incitement to civil disobedience". The fifth activist who was also arrested - lawyer Timothée Mbuya - is still facing trial. As previously reported, Mulenda, Mbuya, Tshibitshabu, Omari and Timothée Mbuya were arrested on 31st July, along with more than other 100 protesters, most of whom were released hours later without charges.
Ben-José Luendu, coordinator of the citizen movement Engagement citoyen pour le changement (Citizen Engagement for Change), declared to Radio Okapi that police had tortured him and other young members of the movement at the Provincial Police Inspectorate in Kinshasa on 11th October. Luendu and others were arrested on the boulevard du 30 juin when they tried to deliver a memorandum to the National Independent Electoral Commission, demanding that the electoral calendar be published. The police have denied that the activists were arrested and tortured, and accused Luendu and others of disturbing public order.
Police officers prevented a peaceful assembly organised by Rassemblement des forces politiques et sociales au changement, a political opposition platform, from taking place in Goma (North Kivu) on 16th October. Protesters were dispersed at the place and time of the start of the assembly. Police arrested eight protesters, five members of the Rassemblement and three crew members of the vehicle that carried the sound equipment. All equipment was confiscated, while the eight protesters were released later that day. According to a press release from the Rassemblement, the assembly aimed to protest against the latest declaration of the National Independent Election Commission (CENI), which states that the Commission will need at least 504 days after the publication of the electoral calendar to organise the elections.
In the early hours of 13th October 2017, an assembly organised by citizen movement Lutte pour le changement (LUCHA) in Goma was dispersed, and police used tear gas, injuring several people, according to Radio Okapi. The protest denounced the decree of the provincial governor, issued on 25th August, that increases the school fees for the year 2017-2018.
According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), police officers arbitrary detained 49 participants of an anti-Kabila protest on 30th September 2017. The detained protesters included members of several citizen movements - including LUCHA and Compte à Rebours - in Goma and Kisangani. In Goma, demonstrators attempted to deliver a letter to the CENI office to complain about no elections being held before the end of 2017. The 16 protesters in Kisangani were released the same day, while the 33 detained in Goma were released three days later without charges.
Police officers arrested at least nine members of the citizen movement Filimbi on 19th September in Bunia (Ituri Province) when they gathered to commemorate the victims of the violent repression of protests in Kinshasa at the hand of security forces on 19th and 20th September 2016 and the victims of the landslide in Tara in August. The protesters were released on 23rd September.
Security forces prevented a protest, planned for 21st August, organised by followers of the political-religious sect Bundu Dia Kongo (BDK) in Kisantu (Province of Kongo Central). Similar protests were organised in other localities - Matadi, Boma, Muanda and Tshela et Luozi - with no incidents reported, except reports of a massive presence of police officers on the main roads in Boma. As reported previously on the Monitor, violent clashes between protesters of Bundu dia Kongo and security forces on 10th August cost the lives of 27 people, including three police officers.
In the morning of 23rd August 2017, spontaneous protests over the lack of security in the country erupted in the city of Butembo (North Kivu), with clashes between security forces and protesters reported. Local sources told politico.cd that security forces intervened, and arrested several protesters. The protests started when the group Véranda Mutsanga called for a strike.
According the media freedom organisation Journaliste en Danger (Journalists in Danger), military officers of the armed forces of the DRC (FARDC) pillaged the facilities being used to relay the signal of a local radio station in Butembo (North Kivu), namely Radio Moto Butembo Beni. The FARDC officers occupied the facilities, located 35 km from Butembo in Masereka, for several hours on 7th October before ransacking and confiscating material needed to relay the signal, including batteries, solar panels and a regulator, estimated at 5,500 USD, making it impossible to broadcast the radio's programmes in South Butembo.
Military officers detained two journalists - Médard Lwango Msafiri and Useni Ndixy of community Radio Baraka - on 2nd October for several hours at the offices of the military intelligence in Baraka, Fizi Territory (South Kivu) for allegedly distributing false information, according to media freedom monitoring organisation - Observatoire de la Liberté de la Presse en Afrique.