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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