AFRICA/DR CONGO - Violent repression of demonstrations: at least 6 dead, a dozen priests kidnapped

Monday, 22 January 2018 persecutions   violence  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - At least 10 priests and two nuns were kidnapped by the police in the clashes which occurred yesterday, Sunday, January 21, in several cities of the Democratic Republic of Congo, due to the violent repression of a new protest initiative promoted by Catholic laity.
"We are aware of the fact that ten priests were arrested, including Fr. Dieudonné Mukinayi, of the parish of Saint Christophe de Binza Ozone. He was kidnapped along with eight parishioners", said Georges Kapiamba, President of the Association Congolaise pour l'Accès à la Justice (ACAJ), according to which two religious sisters have also been kidnapped.
"The arrested priests could even be 12 in addition to the two nuns", sources from the Congolese Church told Agenzia Fides. "Unlike December 31, this time the protests affected many cities throughout the DRC" say our sources.
"In the capital, Kinshasa, from where it was launched, the call for demonstration was accepted in all the municipalities. In Goma (the capital of North Kivu), where on 31 December the call for demonstration had not been re-launched at a local level, this time instead a demonstration took place after Mass in the cathedral, which was repressed by the police. In the capital of South Kivu, Bukavu, the police stopped the protest by preventing people from gathering. In Mbuji-Mayi, capital of Eastern Kasai, churches had been surrounded by the military since the early morning. The local Bishop had to publish a statement to ask priests to have the courage to carry out religious services. But in the cathedral of Mbuji-Mayi the military interrupted the Mass, preventing the consecration of the Eucharist" say Fides sources.
"5 people have died so far, but the number could be higher, maybe 6 or 7. Among these there is the daughter of a police officer who died simply to protect some girls when the military started shooting in the parish of Saint Kizito in Kinshasa".
The provisional toll of the repression presented by MONUSCO (UN Mission in the DRC) is 6 dead, 57 injured and more than 100 people arrested.
Yesterday's demonstration was also called by the Catholic laity to exert pressure on President Joseph Kabila to respect the New Year's Eve Agreements of December 31, 2016 and above all to obtain from him the solemn commitment not to run as a candidate at the December 23, 2018 elections.
Yesterday Pope Francis launched an appeal "asking the authorities, the leaders and everyone in this beloved Country, to avoid all forms of violence and seek solutions for the common good. All together, in silence, we pray for this intention, for our brothers in the Democratic Republic of Congo", the Holy Father said after the Angelus. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 22/1/2018)