Friday, July 21, 2017

Jean-Marie and Sylva Released From Military Detention Center

On Monday, July 17, 2017, Jean-Marie Kalonji and Sylva Mbikayi were released from the Military Detection of Unpatriotic Activities (DEMIAP) detention center. The two young activists were detained on June 23rd without being charged of any crimes.


According to Jean-Marie and Sylva, the soldiers who detained them were concerned that they were working with foreign governments to destabilize the Kabila regime. They encountered many other youth in DEMIAP who were detained on similar suspicions. Unlike many of the youth who remain detained at DEMIAP, Jean-Marie and Sylva benefited from an international awareness campaign and empathetic individuals of conscience who facilitated their release. Although the Minister of Human Rights, Mrs. Marie-Ange Mushobekwa tweeted that she spoke to the head of DEMIAP to secure the release of Jean-Marie and Sylva, this account is dubious at best. The one certainty from the Minister's tweet is that she felt the pressure from the letters that were sent to her and the tweets that flooded her account.


Although, Jean-Marie and Sylva are free, they are not out of danger. They are currently getting medical treatment and recovering from the harsh conditions they endured in the military detention center. Unfortunately, many youth remain locked up in the center that for all intents and purposes serves as a warehouse for hundreds of Congolese youth. Many youth have been disappeared without their families knowing their whereabouts - two such cases are Edel Mulumba and Jeff Mulungiomo of Kinshasa. In addition to the DEMIAP detention center there are other youth in jails throughout the country who have been detained; Sephora Astride Bashiya Biduaya in Goma and Nicolas Mbiya in Mbuji Mayi are two other examples. It is imperative that we advocate for the release of these youth and the countless others who linger in Congo's prisons.

Jean-Marie and Sylva benefited tremendously from the support of people of conscience throughout the globe but they represent merely a glimpse into the incarceration state that Joseph Kabila has imposed on the Congolese people, particularly the youth. The widespread arbitrary arrests and warehousing of Congolese youth can surely be classified as crimes against humanity and should draw the ire and outrage of the global community.

Join us in bringing an end to the unwarranted persecution and detention of Congolese youth.


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Friday, July 14, 2017

Urgent Appeal: Free Jean-Marie and Sylva

Friday, July 14th marks three weeks since the Congolese military picked up and detained Jean-Marie Kalonji and Sylva Mbikayi of the youth-led organization Quatrieme-Voie/Il Est Temps.

Jean-Marie and Sylva remain detained without charge or access to their family or legal representation. They are still in the Military Detection of Unpatriotic Activities (DEMIAP) detention camp where detainees are often tortured and never heard from again.

Jean-Marie Kalonji
Sylva Kabanga Mbikayi
Owing to the gravity and urgency of their case, Amnesty International has issued an URGENT appeal for the immediate release of Jean-Marie and Sylva.

The members of Quatrieme-Voie/Il Est Temps are bewildered as to why their top leaders have been shipped off to a military camp. The fact of the matter is, while partnering with Congo Love, Jean-Marie, Sylva and the rest of the Quatrieme-Voie youth have been deeply engaged in serving their communities. They have assisted women and children with legal service to get them released from jail; they assist market women by providing them with benches and chairs to improve the conditions in which they sell their products; they have worked with the handicap community to provide services to them; and they launched a scholarship initiative to provide university students with scholarships to attend school.

Quatrieme Voie Member Engages Handicapped Children & Adults

Their situation is dire. Jean-Marie and Sylva's place is not in a military dungeon.They should be in their communities serving the dispossessed and contributing to their country. Three ways you can help with the effort to secure their release are as follows:

1. Send an email to Congo's Minister of Human Rights or send the Minister a tweet to appeal for her intervention. Click here for sample letter!
Mrs. Marie-Ange Mushobekwa
Ministère des droits humain
Place Royal
Kinshasa-Gombe
Democratic Republic of Congo
Email: mushobekwa.likulia@gmail.com
Twitter: @MushobekwaMa

2. Share a solidarity statement or a 60-seconds video calling for the release of Jean Marie Kalonji and Sylva Mbikayi using these hashtags #FreeJeanMarie #FreeSylva #Telema

3. Make a financial contribution to support the effort to secure the release of Jean-Marie and Sylva.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

DRC military intelligence arrested photography students

The military intelligence department, well known as P2, arrested this Thursday 2 photography students in the town of Goma, eastern Congo DRC.

Abedi Mohamed and Elie Batumike were practicing as part of a photography training during the ongoing Congo International Film Festival when they got arrested.

“The agents went through their photos to check if they photographed anything sensitive and promised to release them” said Imani Nzabanita, Yole!Africa administrative assistant who went to follow up what was going on.

Yole!Africa’s director, Petna Ndaliko asks for their immediate and unconditional release.

Recently, another group of Congolese artists were arrested during an artistic performance denouncing massacres in the region of Kasaï and Beni. They were released on bail days later.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Sylva Mbikayi: The People's Attorney

When Sylva Mbikayi graduated from law school and passed the bar exam, Jean-Marie Kalonji and friends came to celebrate his accomplishment. Sylva, the people's lawyer, has taken the responsibility to represent those who have been wrongfully arrested. Through a program of Quatrieme Voie, he has visited the Makala prison in Kinshasa and reviewed cases of young women jailed, some living in prison with their babies. All of this work, free of charge.



Two weeks ago, he decided to take on another case, that of a Congolese elder name Papa Biko who was arrested by Congolese police simply for fulfilling his duty as a citizen by offering his space to facilitate voter enrollment. When the news of Jean-Marie and Sylva's arrest reached the neighborhood of Papa Biko, the people there said "wait, they arrested Papa Biko's lawyer too? Now they're going to see!"

People are being mobilized on the ground for these two young men to be released and we will share more as they take action. It's been 7 days and we do not have at 100% reassurance about their well being. We remain faithful and continue to fight for their release.

Thoughts and prayers go to these valiant fighters for Congo's liberation.

We miss you Sylva and Jean Marie!

Kambale Musavuli
Spokesperson, Friends of the Congo

Monday, June 26, 2017

Arrestation des deux activistes à Kinshasa, Kalonji et Maître Mbikayi


Le Vendredi 23 Juin, à 16h30 heure de Kinshasa, Jean-Marie Kalonji, le Coordinateur du groupe rassemblant la jeunesse Quatrième voie/Il Est Temps, a été détenu par les forces armées Congolaises. Rendant visite à un membre de sa famille, les forces de l’ordre ont arrêté Jean-Marie dans le voisinage de Salongo, dans la commune Lemba de Kinshasa. Il a été interrogé puis sommé de produire ses papiers d’identité. Il n’avait pas ses papiers sur lui. Le personnel de l’armée Congolaise l’a ensuite soudainement envoyé au camp Bumba. Aucun motif n’a été renseigné pour son arrestation.

Quand les nouvelles de l’arrestation de Jean-Marie arrivèrent à la direction de Quatrième Voie, Sylva Kabanga Mbikayi, avocate sympathisante et porte-parole de Quatrième voie, s’est rendue auprès de son collègue. À son arrivée au camp Bumba, Sylva Mbikayi fut aussi détenue. Les deux leaders sont actuellement détenus par les forces armées Congolaises à la DEMIAP (Détection militaire des activités anti-patrie) sans inculpation ni motif.


Quatrième Voie a publié un communiqué de presse à l’attention des forces armées Congolaises et du gouvernement Kabila demandant la libération immédiate de leurs leaders.

C’est la deuxième fois que Jean-Marie Kalonji est arrêté par le régime Kabila. La première fois remonte à Décembre 2015 quand il fut kidnappé par les Services de Renseignement Congolais, une détention longue de plusieurs mois durant laquelle il fut torturé dans un lieu gardé secret. C’est seulement lorsque de sérieuses interrogations sur son état furent soulevées – s’il était mort ou vivant – et grâce aux pressions exercées par la jeunesse Congolaise et des sympathisants extérieurs sur le gouvernement Congolais qu’il fut transféré à la prison de Makala. Après un temps à la prison de Makala, il fut relâché en Août 2016 mais a depuis été sous l’étroite surveillance du régime Kabila.

Les mesures répressives prises par le régime Kabila se sont intensifiées alors qu’il tente de garder le pouvoir contre la volonté du peuple Congolais. L’Église Catholique de RDC a publié une déclaration le 23 Juin expliquant qu’une minorité tient des millions de Congolais en otage. L’Église a déclaré que cela est inacceptable et encourage la population à s’engager afin de reprendre le contrôle de son destin.

Nous vous encourageons à partager ce récit largement et à appeler les autorités Congolaises à relâcher Jean-Marie Kalonji et Sylva Kabanga Mbikayi.

Mrs. Marie-Ange Mushobekwa
Ministère des droits humain
Place Royal
Kinshasa-Gombe
Democratic Republic of Congo
Email: mushobekwa.likulia@gmail.com
Twitter:  @MushobekwaMa

Cultural center warns against DRC’s move to silence artists’ voices

For Immediate Release

Goma – Monday 26 th 2017. The Nyavu Network, regrouping 7 cultural centers across the Great Lakes region and southern Africa calls for the immediate release of four artists detained by the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC.

On Friday June 23 rd , photographer Mugabo Baritegera, visual artist Benito Mupenzi, In situ performance installator Precy Numbi and Taylor Ndungo were arrested during a live performance calling for the end of the ongoing massacres in the regions of Beni (eastern DRC) and Kasaï (centre of the country). The live exhibition was going on at Signers crossroad, in the town of Goma, capital of North Kivu province.

"These artists and many of us who work through art and creativity in this country are trying to foster positive open dialogue in a moment when we need to come together in peace and cooperation. Silencing the art voices now is like stifling a nonviolent and cooperation voice" said internationally acclaimed filmmaker and activist Petna Ndaliko Katondolo, Director and Co-Founder of Yole!Africa, member of the Nyavu Network.

The four artists have been transferred to Goma central prison and waiting for their trial. Since August 2016, the death of Kasaï traditional leader Kamwena Nsapu in fighting with security forces deteriorated into a violent conflict that has claimed lives of more than 3 000 people, according to the Catholic Church. The UN discovered more than 42 mass graves in the region in the region and counted more than 1.3 millions internally displaced people as the result of the conflict.

Civil society and human rights organizations have been calling for an independent investigation to clarify responsibilities in the violence; a call that doesn’t resonate with DRC government.

“In a country that has been torn by conflict for decades, silencing nonviolent artists will reinforce among youth the dangerous perception that violence is the only language to be heard” added Mr. Ndaliko.

Being a member of the Nyavu Network, Yole!Africa, an organization that has been promoting nonviolent activism in DRC since 15 years, serving more than 17 000 youth, is closely following hopes that the government will engage in a more cooperative process when dealing with artists speaking out for the general masses.

End
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For further details or book an interview, please, contact Gaius Kowene via
email communication@yoleafrica.org or call +243 973 95 00 95.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Free Jean-Marie and Sylva: Dispatches from the Ground

The reality of young Congolese fighting to get their comrades Jean Marie Kalonji and Sylva Mbikayi out of military detention.
  • Unknown numbers are calling the current leaders with death threats. The person on the line shared very personal information about these leaders in order to demonstrate that they have been following them for a while.
  • They have been followed throughout the city by pickup trucks in the past 48 hours. Two cars of family members of the detained youth have been set ablaze.
  • When going to the DEMIAP military detention center to seek information on the detained youth, the soldiers issue death threats to the advocates.
  • When going to seek support from the human rights office at the UN mission (MONUSCO), the response is that they don't have anyone available on the weekends and someone will follow up next week.
  • Some people in the whatsapp groups the arrested leaders were a part of are receiving anonymous calls and threats as well
  • An attorney from a local and internationally known organization did not want to go to DEMIAP. He said "if they arrested Sylva knowing he is an attorney, I may get arrested if I go there too. Let me get a few other attorneys and we will go there next week."
The movement of the youth leaders is compromised. The Kabila regime has agents throughout the country, especially in Kinshasa on University campuses. The threat to the lives of the youth is real, yet they continue to go out to demand the release of their leaders from military detention. If you don't call it courage... I don't know what courage is then.

Kambale Musavuli
Spokesperson
Friends of the Congo

Take action to support the Congolese Youth!




Saturday, June 24, 2017

On Friday, June 23 at 4:30 PM Kinshasa time, the Coordinator of the youth group Quatrieme Voie/Il Est Temps, Jean-Marie Kalonji was detained by the Congolese armed forces. On a visit to a family member, Congolese security forces stopped Jean-Marie in the Salongo neighborhood in the Lemba commune of Kinshasa. He was interrogated and then asked to produce identification. He did not have his identification with him. The Congolese military personnel then whisked him away to camp Bumba. No reason was given for his arrest.

When news about Jean Marie's arrest reached the Quatrieme Voie leadership, fellow attorney and Quatrieme Voie spokesperson, Sylva Kabanga Mbikayi went to see about his colleague. Upon arrival at camp Bumba, Sylva Mbikayi was also detained. The two Quatrieme Voie leaders are currently being held by the Congolese armed forces at the Military Detection of Unpatriotic Activities (DEMIAP) without charge or cause.


Quatrieme Voie released a press statement calling on the Congolese armed forces and the Kabila regime to immediately release their two leaders.

This is the second time that Jean-Marie Kalonji has been arrested by the Kabila regime. The first time was in December 2015 when he was kidnapped and disappeared by Congo's intelligence Services during which time he was tortured and held incommunicado for several months. It was only after serious questions about whether he was alive or dead and intense pressure by Congolese youth and supporters outside Congo that the Congolese government produced Jean-Marie and moved him to the Makala prison. After a period in the Makala prison, he was released and has been under close watch by the Kabila regime since his release in August 2016.

The repressive measures taken by the Kabila regime has increased substantially as he attempts to hold on to power against the will of the Congolese people. Congo's Catholic Church issued a declaration on June 23rd in which it stated that a small minority is holding millions of Congolese hostage. The Church said this is "unacceptable" and exhorted the people to stand up, get more engaged and take their destiny into their own hands.

We encourage you to share this story widely and call on the Congolese authorities to immediately release Jean-Marie Kalonji and Sylva Kabanga Mbikayi.

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