01/25/2022 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – On January 24 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), one person was fatally shot by police and several others were arrested in Beni town while protesting the “state of siege” declared by President Felix Tshisekedi in May 2021.
A local source informed ICC that chanting erupted in the streets as early as 4:00 a.m., with protesters claiming that the siege has done nothing to solve insecurity in the region.
“The protesters started grouping and chanting early this morning and took to the streets at 6:00 a.m., defying the crackling of bullets to disperse them,” said the source. “They were demanding the lifting of the siege that lasted eight months without any fruitful outcome. The police engaged them in running battles until late in the evening where one person is believed to have been killed by police. Shops, banks, schools, and hotels remained closed as crowds drawn from different pressure groups called for an end to the state of siege that has failed to solve the conflict situation in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.”
The protests come two months after Uganda deployed troops to the DRC in an effort to defeat the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) terrorist group, an affiliate of ISIS known to terrorize the primarily Christian nation.
The source continued, “The people here are disappointed by the fact that the government is using the state of siege to force the population to sleep at 7:00 p.m. and extort money from those caught after curfew, yet the (extremist) Muslim rebels continue to invade, kill, loot, and destroy property. The president has his military men, from the governor, mayor, and the local administrators, but we are still being oppressed under the imposed siege.”
Over Christmas, six people were killed in a bomb blast at the Ishango restaurant in Beni town. The local population, which is primarily Christian, is asking for heightened security measures that would allow them to return to normalcy and bring back the region’s economic vibrancy. A church leader in Beni told ICC:
“The president’s state of siege was a good thing in fighting terrorism in these two provinces, but a keen end-to-end follow-up has been lacking and that’s why the population is coming out to pressure the government to reconsider these measures. Several groups wrote to the military mayor of the city of Beni on January 19, notifying him that if the siege continued, there shall be demonstrations today. He never bothered to take any action. The church also sees this as harassment by the government.”
The extent of damage and loss of lives following the protests are not yet known. ICC will continue to monitor the situation and provide any necessary updates.