Turmoil in Congo

Human rights activists in the Democratic Republic of Congo are denouncing acts of violence by police in Kinshasa against Catholic parishes and marchers on Feb. 16. Police were attempting to halt a series of commemorations of the 20th anniversary of the so-called “Christians massacre” on Feb. 16, 1992, when Christian demonstrators were killed by troops loyal to the Mobutu Sese Seko regime. Some marchers were also demanding the nullification of recent elections, described by many observers, including Congo’s Catholic bishops, as fraudulent. Marchers at one parish were surrounded by police and trucks equipped with water cannons and prevented from demonstrating. At other parishes peaceful marchers were dispersed by police with tear gas grenades, and at the Parish of Saint Joseph Matonge, women were beaten by police, according to witnesses. On Feb. 13 the Congolese government also pulled three television stations off the air, two of them close to the opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba and one belonging to the Catholic Church.

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