Category Archives: Congo

Catholic priests, religious face wave of violence in DR Congo

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The Congolese Bishop’s Conference has helped to broker a peace deal that could arrange for the peaceful transition to power

Nearly half of the Congo’s 67.5 million people are Catholic. Previously, nearly 6 million people died in the 1996-2003 conflict over the nation’s transfer of power.Following recent attempts at brokering peace between the government and political opposition leaders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Catholic priests and religious are facing violent backlash around the country.

According to Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic aid society that works in the country, Catholics have experienced a slew attacks on churches and convents. In particular, a Carmelite Convent and a Dominican Church were both ransacked in late February.

Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, the Archbishop of Kinshasa, told the organization that the incidents “lead one to believe that the Catholic Church is being targeted deliberately, in order to sabotage her mission of peace and reconciliation.”

 “Along with all bishops, we denounce these acts of violence, which are likely to plunge our country further into unspeakable chaos,” he said.
The attacks follow recent attempts by the Catholic Church in the DRC to mediate between talks between the government of  President Joseph Kabila and the opposition. The opposition to President Kabila and claims of a constitutional crisis follow after his refusal to step down from office at the end of 2016.

However, after delays for the funeral of opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi and other conflicts, the peace agreement has all but dissolved, according to some reports. Presidential elections are now expected to take place at the end of 2017.

“Politicians ought to acknowledge with humility, before their nation and the international community, their political tendencies and the immorality of their self-serving decisions,” Cardinal Monswengwo said in a statement about the elections.

The attacks have continued into March. According to Crux, 25 Catholic Seminarians in Malole in the south of the country had to be evacuated by UN peace-keeping forces by helicopter after armed troops attacked the seminary. The attackers were part of a militia loyal to former tribal leader Kamwina Nsapu, who died in August 2016.

 For the Catholics, the violence has been terrifying.

“They systematically broke down the doors to different rooms and destroyed everything inside. They entered the teachers’ rooms and burned their belongings,” Father Richard Kitenge, rector of the seminary, told Agence France-Presse.

Recently, the Church has also lead anti-corruption initiatives in the province and local area. The animosity towards the Church also extends outside of the church or convent walls.

“In the street, it’s not unusual to hear threats against the Church,” Father Julien Wato, the Dominican priest of Saint Dominic’s Church, the Kinshasa church vandalized in February said in a statement after the event.

Nearly half of the Congo’s 67.5 million people are Catholic. Previously, nearly 6 million people died in the 1996-2003 conflict over the nation’s transfer of power.

Continue reading Catholic priests, religious face wave of violence in DR Congo

The DRC Elections: the Electoral Commission’s Chairman Explains

AFJN

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The DRC Elections: the Electoral Commission’s Chairman Explains

In March the President of the electoral commission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mr. Cornielle Nangaa, was in Washington, D.C. to meet with partners and share with them the status of the electoral process in his country. The presidential election, one of the eleven elections required by law in the DRC, is currently the main concern of the opposition, pressure groups, religious institutions and the international community. During Mr. Nangaa’s address to civil society and pressure groups at the DRC Embassy in Washington he explained some key facts and answered a number of questions which are summarized below. Continue reading The DRC Elections: the Electoral Commission’s Chairman Explains

DR Congo: Gunmen kill priest who denounced corruption

Independent Catholic News

congofrAn Assumption priest, Fr Vincent Machozi, who for several years documented human rights abuses in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was murdered on Sunday night by armed gunmen, shortly after he posted an online article denouncing the involvement of the Congolese and Rwandan presidents in the massacres of innocent civilians.

A native of eastern Congo and a School of Theology student from 2006 to 2012, Fr Machozi worked closely with the Boston University (BU) Pardee School of Global Studies African Studies Center on outreach efforts in the war-torn country. Continue reading DR Congo: Gunmen kill priest who denounced corruption

DR Congo at ‘critical juncture,’ amid rising political tensions – UN envoy tells Security Council

UN News Centre

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23 March 2016 – The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is at a ritical juncture, with rising political tensions ahead of elections which could lead to violence if left unaddressed, the top United Nations official in the country warned the Security Council today, while highlighting key issues for consideration as it renews the UN’s mandate there.
‘Credible and meaningful political dialogue’

“First, credible and meaningful political dialogue is needed to overcome the impasse in the electoral process,” said Maman Sidikou, the Head of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), referring to presidential and legislative elections scheduled for November of this year. Continue reading DR Congo at ‘critical juncture,’ amid rising political tensions – UN envoy tells Security Council

Priest’s murder in Congo shows the need for a new concept of martyrdom

Crux

By John L. Allen Jr.

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ROME — Around midnight on Sunday, a dozen armed men wearing uniforms of the army of the Democratic Republic of Congo burst into a social center called “My Beautiful Village,” located in the North Kivu region of the country bordering Rwanda and Uganda, where a meeting for peace involving traditional tribal chiefs was underway.

Their target was a Catholic priest named the Rev. Vincent Machozi, a member of a religious order known as the Augustinians of the Assumption, who operated an influential website documenting atrocities committed against his Nande people, also known as the Yira after the language they speak.

Machozi used the site to denounce what he saw as collusion among political elites, armed factions, and commercial interests in what he termed the “Balkanization” of the region in order to exploit its natural resources, especially its rich coltan deposits. Since 2010, so much violence has been unleashed on the Yira — often in grotesque fashion, including beheading by machetes — that activists such as Machozi have referred to it as a “genocide.” Continue reading Priest’s murder in Congo shows the need for a new concept of martyrdom

Apple, Samsung and Sony face child labor claims

BBC
Jane Wakefield

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Many of the children who work in the mining industry dig for cobalt in the discarded waste

Human rights organization Amnesty has accused Apple, Samsung and Sony, among others, of failing to do basic checks to ensure minerals used in their products are not mined by children.

In a report into cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it found children as young as seven working in dangerous conditions.

Cobalt is a a vital component of lithium-ion batteries.

The firms said that they had a zero tolerance policy towards child labor.

The DRC produces at least 50% of the world’s cobalt. Miners working in the area face long-term health problems and the risk of fatal accidents, according to Amnesty.

It claimed that at least 80 miners had died underground in southern DRC between September 2014 and December 2015. Continue reading Apple, Samsung and Sony face child labor claims

How cash is carried across Congo

Economist

A new system for paying civil servants puts banks through their paces

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IMAGINE if, to collect your salary each month, you had to walk to the nearest town—perhaps tens of miles away—to congregate in a school or a football pitch or a church. There, you and your colleagues wait for a man to arrive from the capital—perhaps a thousand miles away—with a suitcase of cash. Most of the time, you do not receive as much money as you should. Sometimes the man does not arrive at all.

Until recently, that is how most government employees in the Democratic Republic of Congo were paid. But over the past three years the government has been trying to get civil servants to open bank accounts, to which their pay can be transferred directly. In the process, it is accelerating the spread of banking in an economy that, according to Michel Losembe, the bow-tied president of the Congolese Banking Association, is “not very far off barter”. Continue reading How cash is carried across Congo