Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Government Repression in the Congo: The Case of Bundu Dia Kongo

The Congolese government through its police forces has again targeted the people of Bundu Dia Kongo (BDK); a religio-political organization made up of the Kongo people in the Bas Congo province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The government crushed the group in February of 2007 pursuant to protests in Bas Congo stemming from corrupt provincial elections. Again, the Congo government has unleashed the police force on the people killing 100 people according to United Nations sources; many more are missing. Some people are hiding in the bushes and are in desperate need of medical care from injuries incurred during clashes with the police but they are afraid to come out from hiding for fear reprisal by the government.

As the global community is focused on the East of the Congo, the repression of the Bundu dia Kongo (BDK) is yet another example of the crisis of legitimacy that has bedeviled the Congo government under the leadership of Joseph Kabila. The government sees each crisis as an opportunity to unleash violence on the civilian population with the hopes of ruling by fear rather than by consent.

The government accuses the group of attempting to mount a rebellion in the Bas-Congo province, while the Bundu dia Kongo claims it is a peaceful religio-political group that has been in existence for 39 years looking after the welfare of its adherents. The root of the problem however is political in that many BDK politicians have been sidelined or excluded from participation in the provincial government by vote rigging by the Kabila regime. The result has been the marginalization of the Bas Kongo province and reduction in access to resources outlined in Congo's constitution.

Pursuant to clashes with the government, Bundu Dia Kongo was banned. The Congolese parliament has called for an inquiry into the state violence against the Bas Kongo people.

The Bas Kongo region is the home of Joseph Kasavubu, the first president of Congo and Congolese heroine Kimpa Vita.

Click here to read the April 2007 Statement by Human Rights Watch to the DRC Parliamentary Commission Investigating Events in Bas Congo.


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