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

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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.

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