Universities strike in DRC following arrest of students and activists

February 19, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

By

Darell Maurice

Students from at least five universities in the Democratic Republic of Congo city Goma from Wednesday ceased any academic activity to demand the release of six students, and militants of youth movement LUCHA, (Struggle For Change), arrested earlier this week.

No activity occured at Lake Campus yesterday morning.

Furthermore, a group of approximately one hundred students of these institutions firmly decided to stage a sit-in outside the prison where six students were being held. This group then headed to the high prosecutor’s office where the six students were going to be transferred, as dozens of police intervened and brutally dispersed the group, arresting twenty students in the process.

Following this, the tension was mounting among students, who swore for the release of all their comrades. Tomorrow other institutions could take over, if all students and activists arrested earlier are not released as soon as possible.

Given the difficulty managing the anger of students, LUCHA feared the violence the authorities were bound to bear. “Despite our constant calls to fellow students via social networks to prevent violence, we unfortunately can not guarantee control of their actions. We therefore urge the authorities, starting with the Governor and the Commissioner Paluku Awashango to use common sense and responsibility in ordering the immediate release of all students and all the arrested activists,” LUCHA stated.

“We call on the organizations defending human rights (which we salute in passing the support) and the international community and all people of good will, to throw their weight to governor Paluku and other authorities (including Kinshasa) for our comrades and students arrested in Goma are immediately released, and those who have disappeared in Kinshasa to be ound. By doing so, you will show that you really attach importance to the values ??and principles of freedom, dignity and respect for human rights that your countries and organizations defend” they added.

The Congolese are often accused of not doing enough to enforce their rights , or to do so in violence. For once that a true dynamic of non violent activism is taking place in the DRC, it is crucial that the international community and defenders of human rights prove their consistency and ensure that the authorities guarantee a space free expression of differing opinions. Especially at a time when a serious uncertainty weighs on the democratic process, poised to derail because of the bad faith of the authorities.

 

 

 

 

 

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Darell Maurice

Darell Maurice is a Journalist based in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital city Kinshasa and works for Canal7kintv. He also blogs here.

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