AFRICA/DR CONGO - "Protests led by the Catholic laity will continue"; the Nunciature: "fatal bullets fired against demonstrators"

Tuesday, 23 January 2018 persecutions   violence  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - "The government is trying to put the blame on the organizers regarding the violent protest march held on Sunday", report Church sources of the Democratic Republic of Congo to Agenzia Fides, where on Sunday 21st January in several cities of the country law enforcement officers fired teargas to disperse demonstrations organized by the Lay Coordination Committee of the DRC against the continued rule of President Joseph Kabila. The protest was the latest in a series since Kabila refused to step down at the end of his mandate in December 2016. Despite the repression, the Catholic laity will not surrender, because as reported by Fides sources "they want to organize other demonstrations". "This is because - explain the sources - we now have the distinct impression that those in power do not want to leave. Demonstrations therefore remain the only form of protest, albeit weak, to put pressure and hope that something changes within the presidential regime".
"Nothing is known about the ten priests arrested on Sunday, January 21" our sources say. "We only know that one of the arrested priests has been accused of attempted aggression by a minister because in order to escape the firing of tear gas by the police, the priest along with other people, took refuge in a house, which belongs to the minister in question. The minister then accused the priest and the people who were trying to attack him, but it is a false version".
"In conclusion, the Catholic laity led the protest against Kabila. Several parish priests joined the protest initiatives. It is important to reiterate that the initiatives were taken by the laity and not by CENCO (National Episcopal Conference of the Congo) or by individual Bishops", the sources conclude.
In a "Technical Note", the Apostolic Nunciature in Kinshasa confirms that the police fired real, potentially fatal bullets against demonstrators in the capital Kinshasa, and in the cities of Kisangani (north-east), Goma and Bukavu (North and South Kivu, in the east), Lubumbashi (south-east) and Mbuji-Mayi (center). In the note titled "Parishes disturbed by the police" the police are accused of having surrounded the churches and of firing tear gas and real bullets.
According to the Note of the Nunciature "at least one priest was wounded and at least three others were arrested in Kinshasa". Among the victims was a woman who had wanted to become a nun (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 23/1/2018)