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UN Calls for Probe into Killings of Anti-Government Protesters in DRC


A policeman detains a demonstrator during a protest organized by Catholic activists in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Jan. 21, 2018.

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights is urging the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to investigate the alleged killings by security forces during anti-government protests Sunday.

The U.N. human rights office warns this latest crackdown by security forces in Democratic Republic of Congo indicates a recurring pattern of repression against political opponents of Congolese President Joseph Kabila.

Riot policemen fire teargas canisters to disperse demonstrators during a protest organised by Catholic activists in Kinshasa, DRC, Jan. 21, 2018.
Riot policemen fire teargas canisters to disperse demonstrators during a protest organised by Catholic activists in Kinshasa, DRC, Jan. 21, 2018.

It says U.N. monitors have recorded at least six deaths and 68 wounded during anti-Government demonstrations in the capital Kinshasa. They also report live ammunition has been used against protesters, 121 people have been arrested and tear gas has been fired into churches in various parts of the country.

U.N. human rights spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasani, notes U.N. monitors also were attacked during the demonstrations. She says her office is calling on the government to investigate all incidents of alleged use of excessive force against demonstrators and U.N, personnel by security officers.

She tells VOA there is no certainty the government will heed this call, but adds the Congolese leadership has an obligation to investigate.

“People have been killed, people have been injured and arbitrarily arrested. It is the obligation of the government to ensure that security forces are handling protests in line with the law," she said. "And, we will continue to call for this until it happens. There is an impact when we call on governments to cease carrying out serious human rights violations.”

Shamdasani says human rights workers will continue to monitor and report on events, and she says they will continue to ask the government to investigate. She also agrees the root cause of the country’s political tensions lies in the continued postponement of presidential elections.

Shamdasani says the High Commissioner’s office is urging the government to work constructively with civil society, religious leaders and political opponents to resolve this situation. If this is not done, she warns the violence and repression will continue.

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