Democratic Republic of Congo

Free ‘Filimbi’ Activists: Over 200 Rights Groups Urge Respect for Free Expression, Assembly

(Kinshasa,June 15, 2015) – Congolese authorities should immediately and unconditionally releasetwo activists who were arrested three months ago, on March 15, 2015, during a pro-democracyyouth workshop in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a coalition of 14 international and 220 Congolese rights organizationssaid today. FredBauma and Yves Makwambala were arrested at a workshoporganized tolaunch “Filimbi,” a platform to encourage Congolese youth to peacefullyand responsibly perform their civic duties.

Thegovernment should also release and drop any charges against other activists, oppositionparty members, and others detained solely for their political views or forparticipating in peaceful activities.

“Congolese authorities should stop violating basic freedom of expression andassembly rights that are protected under Congo’s constitution and internationalhuman rights law,” said Ida Sawyer, senior Africa researcher at Human RightsWatch. “Filimbi and others should be allowed to hold workshops on thedemocratic process without fear of arrest.”

Aparliamentary “information mission,” established on March 27 to examine howCongo’s security services managed the Filimbi dossier, found no evidenceindicating that the Filimbi leaders and workshop participants were involved inor planning any terrorist or other violent crimes, says its report, of whichthe organizations obtained a copy. Following a debate about the report duringclosed sessions of parliament on June 12 and 13, Congo’s National Assemblyrecommended a “political solution” that would allow for the release of the twoactivists still in detention, according to members of parliament who attendedthe debate.

On March 15, Congo’s National Intelligence Agency(Agence Nationale de Renseignements, ANR)
arrested about30 pro-democracy activists and others at a Filimbi workshop in Kinshasa, theCongolese capital, including Senegalese and Burkinabe activists, aUnited States diplomat, foreign and Congolese journalists, and Congoleseactivists, musicians, artists, and logisticians. AnotherFilimbi activist was arrested on March 16. Others associated with Filimbi,including a graphic artist who designed the Filimbi logo and Rawbank employeeswho managed the Filimbi bank account, were also later arrested by the ANR.

Theauthorities released most of the detainees in the first week, but two remain indetention: Fred Bauma, member of a Goma-based movement, The Struggle for Change(La Lutte pour le Changement, LUCHA),and Yves Makwambala, a webmaster and graphic artist.

After being held for over 40 days by the ANR without charge or access to legalassistance and without being brought before competent judicial authorities, Makwambalaand
Bauma were transferredto the public prosecutor’s office on April 24 and May 4, respectively. They arenow at Kinshasa’s central prison.

Makwambalaand Bauma, as well as four Filimbi leaders who have not been arrested, werecharged with belonging to an association formed for the purpose of attackingpeople and property, forming a conspiracy against the head of state, andattempting to either destroy or change the “constitutional regime” or incitepeople to take up arms against state authority. The authorities have alsocharged Bauma with disturbing the peace, and Makwambala with publicly offendingthe head of state. These charges appear to be politically motivated, theorganizations said.

During a news conference on March
18, CommunicationsMinister Lambert Mende said that the Filimbi leaders were planning “terroristactivities” and a “violent insurrection.”

Judicialofficials have told human rights activists in private that there is no evidenceto back up the charges, but that the charges were part of a dossier handed tothem by intelligence officials.

“Congolese authorities have held Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala for monthswithout any credible basis,” Jean-Claude Katende, national president of the AfricanAssociation for the Defense of Human Rights (ASADHO) in Congo, said. “Both shouldbe immediately and unconditionally released and all charges against themdropped. Congolese judicial authorities should assert their independence andensure the protection of rights recognized by the Constitution, Congolese laws,and the international human rights treaties ratified by Congo.”

Theparliamentary report that found no evidence of plans for terrorist activitiesor violent crimes by Filimbi leaders and workshop participants did not address allegedillegal actions by Congo’s intelligence services in holding the detaineeswithout charge for more than 48 hours, denying them access to legal assistanceor bringing them before a competent judicial authority, all rights guaranteedby Congo’s constitution.

Intelligenceofficials confiscated the passports and other materials from some of those whowere arrested after the Filimbi workshop and later released and required themto report to the intelligence agency every 48 hours. Others who participated inthe workshop, but were not arrested, have been living in hiding fearing arrest.In some cases, the authorities searched their homes illegally or they losttheir jobs while in hiding.

In Goma, in eastern Congo, in March and April, the authorities
arrested andlater released at least 15 activists from the LUCHA youth movement who weredemonstrating peacefully to demand the release of their colleagues detained inKinshasa. Some alleged that they were beaten or tortured through a form ofnear-drowning by intelligence agents and police who arrested them. Four weregranted provisional release but face charges of incitingdisobedience to public authority.

TheCongolese government should thoroughly and transparently investigate and bringto justice officials suspected to be responsible for violating the rights of theFilimbi workshop participants and LUCHA activists, the groups said.

The arrests of the Filimbi members and of activists who held protests tosupport them came in the context of a broader crackdown on political partyleaders, activists, and others who have peacefully protested attempts to allow Congo’sPresident Joseph Kabila to stay in power past his constitutionally mandatedtwo-term limit, which ends in late 2016.

Congoleseauthorities should also release other activists and political party leaders whohave been detained because of their peaceful political views or participationin non-violent demonstrations or other activities, the rights organizationssaid. The human rights defender Christopher Ngoyi and political party leadersCyrille Dowe, Jean-Claude Muyambo, Jean-Bertrand Ewanga, Ernest Kyaviro, andVano Kalembe Kiboko have all been detained for over four months, in some caseswithout charge and without access to their families or lawyers, for what appearto be politically motivated reasons.

“Congoleseauthorities – and especially the intelligence services – have carried out unlawfularrests to silence dissent and clamp down on human rights in the lead-up to the2016 elections,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International's Deputy RegionalDirector for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes. “They should takeurgent steps to end the clampdown and to ensure respect for freedom ofexpression and peaceful assembly.”

For the parliamentarymission’s report, please visit:

For the responsefrom Filimbi leaders to the parliamentary mission’s report, please visit:

For aquestion-and-answer document about Filimbi by Congolese human rightsorganizations, please visit:

Formore information, please contact:
InKinshasa, for ASADHO, Jean-Claude Katende (French): +243-81-17-29-908 (mobile)or
In Goma, for Synergie des Femmes, Justine Masika Bihamba (French): +243-99-548-4965(mobile)
In Kinshasa, for Human Rights Watch, Ida Sawyer (English, French):
+243-81-33-78-478 (mobile); or +243-99-86-75-565(mobile); or
In Nairobi, for Amnesty International, Mildred Ngesa (English, Kiswahili, and French):+254 732 495 215 or

Signedby the following human rights organizations:

International Organizations

  1. 11.11.11
  2. Action des Chrétiens pour l’Abolition de la Torture (ACAT-France)
  3. Amnesty International
  4. Carter Center
  5. Enough Project
  6. European Network for Central Africa (EURAC)
  7. Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l’Homme (FIDH)
  8. Front Line Defenders
  9. Human Rights Watch
  10. Humanity United
  11. Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA)
  12. Organisation Mondiale Contre la Torture (OMCT)
  13. Protection International
  14. Tearfund


  1. Action Chrétienne Contre la Torture (ACAT) - RDC
  2. Action Chrétienne pour les Droits de l’Homme (ACDHO)
  3. Action Congolaise pour le Respect des Droits Humains (ACRDH)
  4. Action contre l’Impunité et Droits de l’Homme (ACIDH)
  5. Action de Développement pour la Protection de l’Environnement et la promotion des Droits Humains (ADPEDH)
  6. Action de Solidarité pour la Femme et Enfants (ASOFE)
  7. Action et Réalisation pour le Développement (ARED)
  8. Action Humanitaire pour la Consolidation de la Paix et le Développement Intégré (AHCOPDI)
  9. Action pour l’Encadrement et la Protection des Enfants (APEE)
  10. Action pour l’Environnement et la Paix (AEP)
  11. Action pour la Communication pour la vie (ACV)
  12. Action pour la Promotion de la Participation Citoyenne (APPC)
  13. Action pour la Promotion Intégral des Femmes (APIF)
  14. Action pour la Protection de la Femme et de l’enfant (APDF)
  15. Action pour la Protection des Droits Humains et du Développement Communautaire (APDHUD)
  16. Action pour le Développement et la Promotion de la Paix (ADEPROP)
  17. Action Santé Femme (ASAF)
  18. Actions Humanitaires Justice pour les Victimes (AHJV)
  19. Agir pour les Elections Transparentes et Apaisées (AETA)
  20. Amis de Nelson Mandela pour les Droits Humains (ANMDH)
  21. Arche d’Alliance (AA)
  22. Association Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (ASADHO)
  23. Association Congolaise de Droit de l’Homme (ACDHO)
  24. Association Congolaise pour l’Accès à la Justice (ACAJ)
  25. Association de Débardeurs du Port de Kalundu (ADPK)
  26. Association de Défense des Droits de la Femme (ADDF)
  27. Association de Mamans Chrétiennes pour l’Appuis aux Vulnérables (AMCAV)
  28. Association de Promotion et d’Appui aux Initiatives Locales de Développement (APAILD)
  29. Association des Femmes Juristes Congolaises (AFEJUCO)
  30. Association des Femmes pour l’Enfant (ASOFE)
  31. Association des Jeunes pour le Développement Intégral de Kalundu Uvira (AJEDIK)
  32. Association des Médiateurs des Conflits Sociaux & Electoraux de Bandundu (AMECOSBA)
  33. Association des Sœurs de Notre Dame de la Visitation (ASNDV)
  34. Association Internationale de Défense des Droits de l’Homme (AIDDH)
  35. Association Mwanga (AMG)
  36. Association pour l’Universalité des Droits Fondamentaux (AUDF)
  37. Association pour la Justice et le Soutien aux personnes Opprimée et Vulnérable (AJSOV)
  38. Association pour la Protection des Personnes Albinos (APRODEPA)
  39. Association pour la Protection et des Droits de la Femme (APDFE)
  40. Association pour le Développement de la Femme (AFD)
  41. Association pour le Développement Intégral du Haut Plateau de Fizi (ADIPF)
  42. Avocat de Droits de l’Homme (ADH)
  43. Batir notre Terre (BATE)
  44. Blessed Aid
  45. Bon Samaritains dans le Grands Lacs (BOSAM-GL)
  47. Bureau de Promotion Socioculturelle (BUPSOC)
  48. Bureau d'Etude et d'Accompagnement des Relations Internationales en RD Congo (BEARIC)
  49. Bureau Islamique au Droit de l’Homme (BIDH)
  50. Cadre pour le Développement Intégral (CADI)
  51. Carrefour Juridique Culturel (CAJUC)
  52. Centre Ba Mamu Tabulukayi (CBMT)
  53. Centre d’Autopromotion de la Femme et de l’Enfant (CAFEN)
  54. Centre d’Education et de Recherche pour les Droits des Femmes (CERDEF)
  55. Centre d’Encadrement des Démunis de Matadi et de ses Environs (CEDME)
  56. Centre d’Observation des Droits de l’Homme et d’Assistance Sociale (CODHAS)
  57. Centre de Développement et de Recherche pour l’Habitat (CDRH)
  58. Centre de Formation International des Droits Humains et Développement (CFIDHD)
  59. Centre de Recherche pour l’Environnement, Démocratie et les Droits de l’Homme (CREDDHO)
  60. Centre de Rééducation pour l’Enfance Délinquance et Défavorisée (CREDD)
  61. Centre d'Encadrement pour les Jeunes de Fizi (CEJF)
  62. Centre des Droits de l’Homme et de Droit Humanitaire (CDH)
  63. Centre des Jeunes BOMOTO (BOMOTO)
  64. Centre des Recherches et d’Etudes Stratégiques en Afrique centrale (CRESA)
  65. Centre International de Formation en Droit de l’Homme (CIFDH)
  66. Centre pour la Documentation et Analyse de la Femme (CEDAF)
  67. Centre pour la Justice et la Reconstruction (CJR)
  68. Centre pour la Paix et les Droits de l'Homme- Peace and Human Rights Center (CPDH-PHRC)
  69. Centre pour la Promotion Sociale et Communautaire (CEPROSOC)
  70. Centre Résolution Conflits (CRC)
  71. Cercle des Femmes Juriste du Kasaï Occidental (CEFEJUKO)
  72. Cercle International pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme, la Paix et l’Environnement (CIDDHOPE)
  74. Coalition des Activistes Résolus pour la promotion et défense des DH en milieu rural (COARDHO)
  75. Coalition Nationale pour l’Education Pour Tous (CONEPT)
  76. Collectif 24 (C24)
  77. Collectif des Femmes de l’Equateur (COLFEQ)
  78. Collectif des Femmes Journalistes (CFJ)
  79. Collectif des Femmes Rurales pour le Développement (COFERD)
  80. Collectif des Jeunes solidaires de Congo Kinshasa (COJESKI)
  81. Collectif des ONG pour la Promotion de la Justice (COPJ)
  82. Comité de Coordination des Actions de Paix (CCAP)
  83. Comité de Droit Humanitaire (CDH)
  84. Comité de Lutte Anti Tracasseries (CLAT)
  85. Comité des Droits de l'Homme et Développement (CODHOD)
  86. Comité des Jeunes pour la Sensibilisation Civique & Electorale (CJSE)
  87. Comité Local de Gouvernance Participative (CLGP)
  88. Commission CARITAS (CARITAS)
  89. Commission Diocésaine Justice et Paix (CDJP)
  90. Commission Internationale en Formation des Droits de l’Homme (CIFDH)
  91. Communauté des Amis de la Nature et de la Culture (CANACU)
  92. Communicateurs pour la Promotion, la Protection et la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (COPPRODDHO)
  93. Congo en Image (CIM)
  94. Congo Peace Network (CPN)
  95. Congrégation des Femmes qui se Lèvent comme une Mère (CFLM)
  96. Conseil National des Droits de l’Homme en Islam (CONADHI)
  97. Convention pour le Développement et la Protection des Peuples Autochtones Pygmées Batswa (CPDA)
  98. Convention Pour le Respect des Droits de l’Homme (CRDH)

99. Corps Volontaire Humanitaire (COVOH)

100. Debout Fille deFizi (DFF)

  1. Drapeau Blanc (DPB)
  2. Droits et Démocratie pour La Femme Rurale (DDFR)
  3. Droits et Vie pour Tous (DVT)
  4. Dynamique pour la protection des Femmes et de l’Enfant en Milieu Rural (DYFEMIR)
  5. Echos de La Rdc
  6. Enfant d’Uvira (EU)
  7. Ensemble pour la Femme et Enfant (EPF)
  8. Entraide et Solidarité en Milieu Rural (ENSOMIR)
  9. Femme Active pour le Développement (FAD)
  10. Femme en Danger (FED)
  11. Femme et Enfant en Détresse (SOS FED)
  12. Femme pour le Développement de Mutuelle de Sodalité (FDMUSO)
  13. Femme qui En Soulève une Autre (FESA)
  14. Femmes en Action pour le Développement Intégré du Congo (FADIC)
  15. Femmes Engagées pour la Promotion de la Santé Intégrale (FEPSI)
  16. Femmes Journalistes Unies pour la Paix et Démocratie en RD Congo (FJUPD)
  17. Femmes Juristes pour la défense des Droits de la Femme (FJDF)
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