Press Statement by John Kirby Department Spokesperson
The United States is concerned by the September 18 convictions of four young activists and members of the group “LUCHA” (Lutte pour le changement or “struggle for change”) by the Superior Court of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the impact that cases such as this could have on the stability of the country. Authorities charged the youth with inciting public disobedience while they peacefully expressed their political views at an April 7th rally. The four activists – Tresor Akili, Sylvain Kambere, Gentil Mulume, and Vincent Kasereka – organized and participated in a protest to bring attention to the case of fellow activists Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala, arrested months ago for their own peaceful involvement in a civic engagement workshop and still in custody in Kinshasa.Such arrests, detentions, and convictions of political activists have a chilling effect on freedom of organization, assembly, and expression in the DRC. It is particularly important that the government protect these constitutionally accorded and internationally recognized rights during this period of active campaigning and public political debate as the DRC prepares for elections. As the four LUCHA activists pursue their appeal of this decision, and Mr. Bauma and Mr. Makwambala await their trial, we urge Congolese institutions to ensure a free, fair, and open legal process.