Democratic Republic of Congo: Dissolution of AZADHO


ICHRDD Condemns Intimidation and Harassment of Civil Society in Congo-Kinshasa

ICHRDD Condemns Intimidation and Harassment of Civil Society in Congo-Kinshasa

Geneva, April 08, 1998 On April 3, at the same time the Commission on Human Rights adopted a declaration on human rights activists with the endorsement of the delegation from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the government of that country made public a decision to dissolve and render illegal the Congo-Kinshasa Association for the Defence of Human Rights (AZADHO), an important NGO that, over the seven years of its existence, succeeded in remaining independent of the various governments in Zaire and now the DRC.

“The decision of Mr. Kabila’s government to dissolve the AZADHO is simply unacceptable, and constitutes a regrettable provocation of civil society and a further demonstration that, for almost a year now, this administration has adopted an approach that is in direct conflict with human rights and democratization,” stated Warren Allmand, President of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development today in Geneva. Mr. Allmand is attending the Round Table on Human Rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an event organized by the Centre in cooperation with AZADHO as part of the 54th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

The Congolese government’s action comes on the heels of other equally arbitrary decisions, in particular the prohibition of political parties, the apprehension of several democratic opposition leaders, including Etienne Tshiesekedi, head of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress, who is being detained in his native village, Z’ahidi Ngoma of the Union of Forces of the Future, and Olenga Nkoy of FONUS, currently imprisoned in Katanga; the arrest of a number of journalists; the establishment of military tribunals empowered to judge civilians; and the publication by the Constitutional Commission of a list of citizens barred from political activity at the same time a new draft constitution was made public. These disturbing signals clearly reveal the strategy of the regime that came to power in May 1997.

The International Centre condemns this destructive approach, consisting of making civil society, and in particular independent human rights organizations, into scapegoats for the government’s own political and diplomatic blunders. It is well known that, for the past year, many people in the international community have been frustrated by Mr. Kabila’s repeated obstructions, preventing the United Nations from obtaining the facts on allegations of massacres and other war crimes committed during the war of liberation.

The ICHRDD therefore asks:

  • that the government of the DRC rescind its decision to dissolve AZADHO; liberate all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience; remove all restrictions on political activity; undertake a campaign to combat impunity for massive human rights violations; and, before it is too late, re-open a dialogue and build a political consensus with civil society agencies and other social, economic and political forces in order to establish solid grounds for democratic development and national reconstruction;

     

  • that the Government of Canada exert its diplomatic influence with Mr. Kabila’s government to convey our concerns and give the voice of reason and dialogue with civil society a chance, before it is too late.