AFRICA/DR CONGO - Third church-led demonstrations: "Repression was less violent even if there were at least 3 victims"

Tuesday, 27 February 2018 bishops   violence  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - "Repression was less violent even if unfortunately at least three people were killed", report to Agenzia Fides Church sources in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where on Sunday 25 February for the third time after December 31, 2017 and January 21, protest marches organized by the Lay Coordination Committee (CLC) were held to request the full implementation of the December 31, 2016 Agreements.
Among the people killed there is Rossy Mukendi Tshimanga, a very respected young activist, whose death aroused strong emotion in the capital, Kinshasa. "He was a very well-prepared person, father of two children, and a point of reference for many young people", recall our sources.
"In addition to the dead, there were many wounded and at least 100 people arrested, but the police were not as violent as the other times", the sources told Fides. "In Kinshasa, the population has accused a policewoman of Rossy's death. However, the police arrested a young policeman in connection with the activist's death, accusing him of not having correctly followed the provisions on the use of weapons".
In Mbandaka, in the north-west of the country, a policeman was sentenced to life imprisonement, for killing another activist during the demonstration last Sunday.
"The chief police had assured that his goal was" zero deaths" for this third protest march", Fides sources recall. "But even this time we have to cry victims. In any case, it seems that the government is launching messages towards demonstrators, who continue to participate en masse in protest marches".
His Exc. Mgr. Fridolin Ambongo, Bishop coadjutor of Kinshasa and Vice President of the Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO), reiterated that the Congolese Episcopate is united and indivisible and is committed to supporting the population in its struggle for the application of the 31 December 2016 agreement, respect of the Constitution and the rule of law.
In the meantime, the Episcopal Conference of Madagascar has sent a message to CENCO in which it expresses its solidarity and spiritual support to the Catholic Church of the Democratic Republic of Congo and to all the Congolese people. "Together with you, we condemn all acts of repression and violence to people who peacefully express their aspirations and fight for justice, peace and the establishment of the rule of law", says the document sent to Agenzia Fides.
Recalling the special day of prayer and fasting convened by Pope Francis on Friday 23 February for peace in the world and in particular for the DRC and South Sudan, the message states "that the 22 dioceses of Madagascar have joined you in an intense prayer. We also ask you to pray for our country devastated by poverty, insecurity, corruption, political conflicts and whose population lives in uncertainty, on the eve of the presidential elections scheduled for this year". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 27/2/2018)