Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Assassination Of A Congolese Patriot: Yet The Resistance Grows

The Lay Coordinating Committee issued a call for a third march on Sunday, February 25th. The march was organized in the same fashion as the previous two marches on December 31, 2017 and January 21, 2018, whereby attendees went to mass and demonstrated after church. The committee's demands remained consistent - For Kabila to declare that he would not run for a third term and that he would adhere to key elements of the December 31, 2016 Saint Sylvestre Agreement, which called for actions such as the expansion of political space, release of political prisoners, cessation of arbitrarily arrests and the return of exiled leaders.

Prior to Sunday's march, there was a great deal of international attention and moral pressure exerted on the Kabila regime. Members of the US Congress and foreign affairs offices of the U.S., U.K. and E.U. issued statements calling on the Kabila regime to avoid using lethal force on demonstrates and allowing them to march freely and peacefully.

Keenly aware of the increased attention generated by its repression of peaceful marchers, the regime adjusted its tactics in form but not in substance. On Saturday, February 24th, the night prior to the march, the youth wing of Joseph Kabila's political party, the Peoples Party for Reconstruction and Development (PPRD) attempted to occupy one of the main churches in the Lingwala neighborhood of Kinshasa, the capital of the DR Congo. The PPRD youth claimed they were coming into the churches to arrest the priests and pass them over to the police. Youth from the Lingwala neighborhood led by Quatrieme Voie members mobilized to protect the members of the church from the Kabila regime's goons in red berets.

Unfortunately, the day of the March was another bloody affair. Police officers literally staked out churches commando-style as if they were in pursuit of well armed enemy combatants (see below photo).

“A policeman takes cover in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Kinshasa,
Democratic Republic of Congo, February 25, 2018. Reuters/ Goran Tomasevic”
According to the Lay Coordinating Committee, dozens were injured and arrested and at least three people were killed by Kabila's security forces. Most notably, youth activist Rossy Mukendi of activist group "Collectif 2016" succumbed to the bullet of a Congolese police officer. his death has touched the activist community deeply (see below photo).

In spite of the brutal repression from the Kabila regime, the resolve of the Committee is as strong as ever. In a communique issued the day of the march, the committee warned the Kabila regime that there will be no let up on the regime as long as the people is denied their dignity and liberty.

Let us not let up either. Click here to sign the petition demanding justice for the victims of the Kabila regime.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Third Call for March on Sunday, February 25th

The Lay Coordinating Committee called for its third non-violent march on Sunday, February 25th. According to the Committee, the two previous marches on December 31, 2017 and January 21, 2018 mobilized over 3 million people but they were violently repressed by the Kabila regime.

The central demand of the Committee is the implementation of the December 2017 agreement (Saint Sylvestre Accord in French). The Committee says that the Kabila regime's response to their demand has been bloody violence.

The Committee no longer believes in the good will of the Kabila regime. The government has rejected every window of opportunity offered  to it. The Kabila regime has demonstrated clearly that it wants to hold on to power undemocratically.

In calling for the people to stand up against the Kabila regime, the committee issued a warning to those who would:
  • stand against democracy
  • twist the words of the committee to justify violence and barbarism 
  • oppose an independent investigation into the crimes and oppose a process to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators and those who issued the orders to repress the people
  • seek to snuff out the aspirations of the Congolese people who are seeking a democratic alternative
The Lay Coordinating Committee called on the United Nations, European Union and the African Union to go beyond mere declarations in the face of the Kabila regime blocking the elections and carrying out violence against the Congolese people.

During the previous two marches, the government shut down the Internet in an effort to block images of security forces violence against the people from reaching the global media. Those of us outside the Congo, can help by amplifying the voices of those on the ground and spreading their message to the larger global community.

Click here to sign the petition to demand justice for the marchers in the Congo.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

University of Kinshasa Students Under Seige By Kabila's Security Forces

The University of Kinshasa has been experiencing a very intense tensions today. This morning, the students arrived at the university with the objective of protesting against the payment rate set by the University. In fact the officials are paid at a rate of $58 and yet the University sets a rate of $100 but based on what?* They forget that these officials are our parents and it is thanks to them that we pay our academic fees. This is why the students wanted to protest against this.

Unfortunately, as we are in a state where freedom of expression is violated, the university has become a war zone with uniformed men everywhere, launching tear gas and firing bullets into the students' homes.

What are the consequences? several wounded, property losses and even arrests. We deplore such behavior on the part of the university and the state in an academic environment. Leaders must know that we are in our rights to protest.
*The crux of the problem is that the rate hikes only apply to students who pay in Congolese francs, which is mostly everyone. Those students who pay in American dollars do not have to pay the higher $100 fee, they only pay $58 for their school fees.  This is a concrete example of how poor economic performance and the volatility of the Congolese franc have had a direct impact on students. Other sectors such as teachers, nurses, doctors, etc have all experienced similar challenges due to the weakness of the franc against the US dollar.

Version Française

Bullets & Teargas canister collected by UNIKIN students
l’Université de Kinshasa vit depuis cet avant midi une tension tres intense. Ce matin, les étudiants sont arrivés à l’université avec objectif de protester contre le taux de payement fixé par l’Université. En effect les fonctionnaires sont payé avec un taux de 92000 franc congolais et pourtant l’Université fixe un taux de 160.000 franc congolais, sur base de quoi? Ils oublient que ces fonctionnaires sont nos parents et c’est grace à eux que nous payons nos frais académiques. C’est pourquoi les étudiants ont voulus protester contre cela. Malheureusement comme nous sommes dans un État où la liberté d’expression est bafouée, l’Université s’est transformée en une guerre avec les hommes en uniforme partout jetant des gaz lacrymogènes, des coups de balles jusqu’à la résidence des étudiants.

Conséquences: plusieurs blessés, plusieurs pertes des biens et même les arrestations. Nous déplorons un tel comportement dans les sites universitaires, les dirigeants doivent savoir que nous sommes dans nos droits.

Etudiant à l'UNIKIN

Click here to get the latest updates and support youth action in the Congo

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Faith Leaders and Civilians Face Severe Onslaught From Kabila's Security Forces

Testimony: Jean-Marie Kalonji in below photo
Location: Notre Dame
Commune: Lingwala. Kinshasa
Riot police officers fired tear gas during a protest in Kinshasa,
the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, on Sunday.
Credit Kenny Katombe/Reuters

Church started at 6:30 am and the sermon was over around 8:20 am. The priests and the people started to march for about 100 meters (30 min), then the population was attacked by surprise from behind and in the front with jeeps and guns.

Given the people were close to the priest the police tried to find a way to separate the people from the priests. The people were kneeling and praying, than getting up and continuing while singing.

The people sat and laid down on the floor on three occasions when attacked by the security forces:
1. First, when the marchers were surrounded the priests instructed the people to sit on the floor. The priests started arguing with the police to let the people march.
2. Second time when the marchers saw that the police managed to separate one of the priests from the group, everyone sat on the floor again while other priests negotiated with the police.
3. On the third occasion, same thing people were kneeling, sitting and standing in one place.

Kabila's security forces started pulling the priests away from the people in an attempt to separate them and drive them back to the church. The marchers quickly recognized the strategy to take the priests back to the church so that the people would be isolated from religious leaders. The people insisted on following the priests back to the church. The police began preventing the people from walking back to church, and came in the middle of the crowd to pull away the priests. The police started pushing people with their guns to try to disperse crowds. Once they managed to separate the people from the priests, they started firing tear gas in the group of people and within a matter of seconds at least 20 tear gas canisters were released. People started running in different directions and others laid on the ground and took cover.

MONUSCO sent one Jeep that was filming and and the press was documenting the repression. The police are currently shooting in the air and going on avenues trying to disperse people from gathering and marching.

Click here to demand justice for the Congolese people!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Kabila’s New Years Eve Message to the Congolese People: We Will Crush You!

In the tradition of liberation theology, faith leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo called on the Congolese people to stand up (#Telema) and reclaim their country. They appealed to the population to participate in a peaceful march throughout the country on Sunday, December 31st, 2017. They instructed the people to march in their local neighborhoods while reciting bible verses and incantations. Civil society, citizens movements formations and the opposition all responded to the call from the faith leaders.

The primary demand of the faith leaders is for Joseph Kabila - who has overstayed his constitutional mandate which expired on December 19, 2016 - to declare that he will not run in the next elections. In addition, they called for the unconditional release of political prisoners, the return of exiled political figures, opening of media that have been shuttered, along with a number of other demands to ultimately ease the tense political climate.

A more radical call came from the Congolese youth, civil society and the opposition. They want Kabila to step down. They have no faith that he will organize elections and even if he does, they believe that the elections will certainly be rigged.

Sunday’s march is a result of a year of frustration for the faith leaders, particularly Catholic Church leaders belonging to the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO in French). They facilitated talks between Joseph Kabila and opposition that resulted in a New Year’s Eve deal on December 31, 2016. The deal gave Kabila an additional year to organize elections by December 2017. The CENCO was widely seen as the entity that prevented a clash between the Kabila regime and the Congolese people in December of 2016.

The United States under the leadership of President Barack Obama and other Western leaders had put enormous pressure on the opposition to abort a planned demonstration at the end of Kabila’s term (December 19, 2016) if he did not step down. To the chagrin of many Congolese, The Obama Administration had pushed for Kabila to organize elections in 2017, even though Kabila’s term expired in December of 2016. It appears that the Obama Administration took the path of least resistance – let Kabila stay and have the next Administration deal with the issue - with less than a couple months left in Obama’s presidency.

CENCO stepped in to be the arbitrator between the opposition and the Kabila regime. However, another year has passed and Kabila refused to organize elections per the December 31, 2016 deal. Kabila spent the past year strengthening his hand by arresting certain opposition figures and buying off others. One of the major weaknesses of the Congolese political class is that it lacks any clear political ideology and can wind up on either side at any moment – opposition or majority – depending on the offer from the regime.

The Trump Administration has pursued a similar policy path to the Obama Administration.  After US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley visited the Congo in October, the U.S. called for elections to be held in 2018 with Kabila remaining as President. Although the electoral commission finally published an electoral calendar that set the election date for December 2018, the people have very little faith that elections will be held and even if they are held, they will likely be rigged in favor of Kabila’s presidential majority coalition.

The major regional and international bodies (United Nations, European Union, African Union and Southern African Development Community - SADC) have aligned with the December 2018 calendar putting them at odds with the masses of Congolese who want to see Kabila gone and a new electoral commission set up to organize free and fair elections, which are impossible to organize under Kabila and the current electoral commission. SADC has been a key player led by Jacob Zuma who has been a staunch supporter of Joseph Kabila, many believe in large part because of economic interest his family has in Congo. Kabila granted Zuma’s nephew, Khulubuse Zuma a R100 billion oil fortune in the northeast of the Congo.

The signal these regional and continental bodies, along with the West, have sent is that as long as elections are held, they will be satisfied even if Kabila’s majority coalition rigs the results and maintain the same set of actors in power. The Congo holds the distinction of having every one of its elected officials at the federal level staying in office beyond their legal mandates. Renowned Congolese medical doctor and moral voice for the Congo, Dr Denis Mukwege says, all elected institutions in the country are illegal. Lacking legitimacy among the people, the Kabila regime has ruled by fear and force. For all intents and purposes, millions of people are being held hostage by an illegal regime that has militarized public space throughout the country.

Early reports from the New Year’s eve march reinforce the nature of the repressive rule by the Kabila regime. In an attempt to prevent the march, security forces and tanks were dispatched in major cities; roadblocks were set-up; tanks blocked entrance to churches in some areas; in other areas police were stationed to prevent access to houses of worship; and some church doors were sealed and/or locked by the security forces.

For those who succeeded in making it to church, the brutality was raw and naked. Parishioners were met with tear gas fired inside the church, stun grenades, live bullets, choir boys were arrested and pastors were beaten and jailed. The brutality and massive demonstration of force against unarmed civilians left little doubt that we are dealing with a people under occupation by an illegal, illegitimate military regime. Major media outlets have reported three dead and many arrested.

Meanwhile the organizers of the march have claimed about a dozen dead, fourteen seriously injured and about 20 people arrested including two pastors and many churches ransacked and damaged. Video and photo documentation of the repression is slowly surfacing due to the fact the government issued a decree the night before to all major telecommunications operators to shut down Internet and SMS services across the country.

Faith leaders and people of conscience throughout Africa should be outraged that 80 million people in the heart of the continent are facing such depraved brutality from a regime that has surpassed its constitutional mandate and lacks legitimacy among the people. In spite of the Kabila regime’s repression and the brutality, the people are as determined as ever to rid themselves of Kabila and his accomplices. They have responded to the faith leaders’ call to take their destiny into their own hands. The New Year Eve’s events have only strengthened the resolve of the people to resist until a new order is installed in the Congo by the masses of Congolese.

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Friday, December 29, 2017

The political commitment of Congolese Christians, in action, for the DRC

Dear fellow Congolese,

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." - said Martin Luther King. This quote was the basis of this morning's preaching, December 28, 2017, at the Catholic parish of my neighborhood in Kinshasa, DRC.

This preaching has invited Congolese to be Christians with light in their actions that reflect the teachings of Jesus-Christ.  "Mo Kristo azali mwinda": A Christian is a light.

The salubrity that characterizes many cities in the DRC, particularly Kinshasa, is a sign of willful blindness or self delusion that the Congolese people are in ignorance while languishing in misery.

It was pointed out that the humanitarian and socio-economic situation in the DRC is dramatic and is getting worse all over the DRC. Ignorance, poverty, malnutrition, infectious diseases such as cholera and others are raging in the DRC while bad governance, violence, corruption, salubrity, ignorance, moral depravity, mediocrity and injustice are ruling the country.

Any religion that is unable to respond to the socio-economic and political problems of a society, in which it lives, has no reason for existence.

It is therefore essential that Christians receive training on constructive social doctrine of Christianity, to be able to act and live in the world according to the evangelical values.

The Catholic Church has therefore constantly reminded Christians in texts or speeches that are not often unambiguous, but at least have the merit of being clear, the injunction made to Christians to feel concerned by policies /politics. If you do not take care of politics, politics will take care of you.

What is observed is that many Christians are sensitive to the shadows and burden of political action. But those who suspect the politics of infamy often have a short idea. In reality, regardless of its frivolities, its failures and its corruptions, political action has a formidable stake: to tend towards a society in which each human being would recognize in any other human his brother or sister and would treat him or her as equal and with love.

Thus, every Congolese Christian should feel concerned by politics in the DRC. Whenever he/she can, they are called to be active citizen always taking care to minimize the results of their action. In today's society, there are several places where the future of humans is determined. We can act individually or collectively at the level of a family, a company, a region, an association, a neighborhood, a political party, a government, a country etc. The wider is the field of political action, the more Christians are demanded to demonstrate thoughtful commitment.

Indeed, it is the entire daily life (work, nutrition, housing, health, education, leisure etc.) of each human that depends on economic, cultural and state political decisions. Political choices do not only have immediate effects but also long-term ones, they also engage future generations.

All Congolese Christians have therefore been invited to commit for change and freedom in the DRC, a country that is being held hostage by a minority of people who are enriching themselves and exploiting the majority who are languishing in the most abject misery as well as in a dehumanizing insecurity.

A vibrant tribute was paid to all victims and survivors of exploitation and violence in the DRC.

The Congolese laity urged the DRC populations to overcome fear and take their responsibility  by mobilizing for the 31st  December 2017 Christians march in solidarity to claim their rights as well as to act individually and collectively to emit a Christian light in the DRC.

Congolese must no longer be silent about things that matter.

Peace and solidarity
A human being who adheres to Christian values as taught by Jesus-Christ, which are fundamental and universal.

L'engagement politique de Chrétiens Congolais, en action, pour la RDC

Chers Compatriotes Congolais,

"Nos vies commencent à se terminer le jour où nous devenons silencieux à propos des choses qui comptent." – dixit Martin Luther King.

Cette citation était à la base de la prédication de ce matin, 28 décembre 2017,  à la paroisse Catholique  de mon quartier à Kinshasa, en RDC.

Cette prédication a invité les Congolais à être des chrétiens ayant une lumière dans leurs actions qui reflètent les enseignements de Jésus-Christ. « Mo Kristo azali mwinda »: Un Chrétien est une lumière.

L’insalubrité qui caractérise de nombreuses villes en RDC, particulièrement Kinshasa, est un signe d’aveuglement dont souffrent les populations Congolaises qui sont dans l’ignorance et croupissent dans la misère. 

Il a été rappelé que la situation humanitaire et socio-économique, en RDC, est dramatique, et qu’elle ne fait que s’empirer, partout en RDC. L’ignorance, la pauvreté, la malnutrition, les maladies infectieuses telle que la cholera et d’autres sévissent pendant que la mauvaise gouvernance,  la violence, la corruption, l’insalubrité, l’ignorance, la dépravation des mœurs, la médiocrité et l’injustice font la loi.

Toute religion qui n'est pas capable de répondre aux problèmes socio-économique et politique dans laquelle elle vit, n’a pas de raison d’exister. 

Il est donc indispensable que les chrétiens reçoivent une bonne formation sur la doctrine sociale du Christianisme, pour pouvoir agir et vivre dans le monde selon les valeurs évangéliques.

L’Église catholique n’a donc cessé de rappeler aux chrétiens dans des textes ou discours qui ne sont pas souvent sans ambiguïté, mais qui du moins ont le mérite d’être clairs, l’injonction faite aux chrétiens de se sentir concernés par la politique. Si tu ne t'occupes pas de la politique, la politique, elle, s'occupera de toi.

Ce qu’on observe, c’est que beaucoup de chrétiens sont sensibles aux ombres et aux pesanteurs de l’action politique. Mais ceux qui soupçonnent la politique d’infamie s’en font souvent une idée courte. En réalité, même à travers ses frivolités, ses défaillances et ses corruptions, l’action politique a un formidable enjeu : tendre vers une société dans laquelle chaque être humain reconnaîtrait en n’importe quel autre humain son frère ou sœur et l’en traiterait comme tel, en égal et avec amour.

Ainsi, tout chrétien Congolais devrait se sentir concerné par la politique en RDC. Chaque fois qu’il le peut, il est appelé à être citoyen actif en se gardant toujours de minimiser les résultats de son action. Dans les sociétés actuelles, les "lieux", où se joue le devenir des hommes, se multiplient. On peut agir individuellement ou collectivement, au niveau de la famille, d’une entreprise, d’une région, d’une association, d’une commune, d’un quartier, d’un parti politique ; d’un gouvernement, d’un pays etc.

Plus s’élargit le champ de l’action politique, plus s’impose aux Chrétiens l’exigence d’un engagement réfléchi.  En effet, c’est toute la vie quotidienne (travail, nutrition, habitat, santé, éducation, loisirs etc.) de chacun qui dépend des décisions politiques des pouvoirs économiques, culturels, étatiques. Les choix politiques ont non seulement une portée immédiate mais aussi une portée à long terme, ils engagent les générations ultérieures.

Il a donc été demandé à tous Chrétiens Congolais de s’engager pour le changement et la libération en RDC, un pays qui est pris en otage par une minorité de gens qui s’enrichissent et exploitent la majorité qui croupit dans la misère la plus abjecte ainsi qu’une insécurité déshumanisante. Un vibrant hommage a été rendu à toutes les victimes et les survivants de l’exploitation et des violences en RDC.

Les laïcs Congolais ont exhorté les populations  à vaincre la peur et se prendre en charge en se mobilisant pour la marche des chrétiens du 31 décembre 2017,  en solidarité pour réclamer leurs droits ainsi que d’agir individuellement et collectivement pour émettre la lumière Chrétienne en RDC.

Les Congolais ne doivent plus rester silencieux à propos des choses qui comptent.

Paix et solidarité
Un être humain qui adhère aux valeurs chrétiennes telles qu’enseignées par Jésus-Christ, qui sont fondamentales et universelles.

Thursday, December 28, 2017



Marche du 31 décembre 2017

Il n'y aura qu'une seule messe dans chaque paroisse de 6h30 à 8h30. Ensuite les paroissiens avec leurs curés débuteront la marche selon un itinéraire qui sera donné le même dimanche lors de la messe.
Il y aura différents points de ralliement selon les paroisses et les zones géographiques.

Quelques consignes:
* Ne jamais fuir devant les forces de l'ordre , mais serrer les rangs et chanter les cantiques ou se mettre à genoux

* Rester solidaires et s'ils veulent arrêter quelqu'un nous constituer tous en prisonniers

* Face aux gaz lacrymogènes, se servir des serviettes mouillées et avoir de l'eau.
Appliquer la margarine bleu band sur le visage

* Objets à avoir: Bible, rameaux, chapelet, etc démontrant qu'on est chrétiens

* Pas trop boire ni manger.
Se munir de sa carte d'identité ou autres références de son identité, etc.

* Ne pas arborer des calcots ou autres effigies des partis politiques, mouvements citoyens etc.

* Tenues : vêtements de l'église, moklisto azali mwinda, Marie, etc. Ou tout simplement Tshirt blanc, chemise blanche, autre vêtement de couleur blanche.

Messages aux points de ralliement. Numéros de téléphones à avoir absolument:
0819677757 Leonnie Kandolo
0999999519 Jonas Tshombela
Comité laïc de coordination