DRC Continues Violent Crackdown on Freedom of Assembly
In response to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s violent arrests of more than 10 demonstrators in Goma protesting the detention of pro-democracy activists, Freedom House released the following statement:
“Repressing freedom of assembly and freedom of expression clearly demonstrates the Congolese government’s lack of respect for democratic principles guaranteed by both their constitution and international law,” said Vukasin Petrovic, regional director for Africa. “Arresting and assaulting these activists further entrenches an environment of fear and intimidation, which could adversely affect civic engagement.”
The activists involved in the demonstration in the eastern city of Goma were protesting against the detention of about 40 pro-democracy activists two days ago in Kinshasa. On March 15, a press conference was organized to launch a movement in the DRC aimed at encouraging youth civic engagement. Influential activists from the movements of Senegal’s Y’en A Marre and Burkina Faso’s Balai Citoyen were among those arrested.
The DRC has seen a recent rise in crackdowns on freedom of assembly. In January, Congolese authorities killed at least 40 protesters calling for review of electoral legislation that would have postponed 2016 presidential elections and extended President Joseph Kabila’s time in power, despite established term limits.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.