DRC: Freedom is priceless Mr. President

DRC: Freedom is priceless Mr. President

by Jean Claude Mputu, Congolese citizen, Champion Anti-corruption Award 2023.

Freedom is priceless and nothing can prevent us from loving, defending and serving the Congo. Neither arrests, nor prison, nor torture, nor repression wherever they come from. You must know this truth better than anyone else because you are the son of Etienne Tshisekedi, of happy memory. You, the UDPS activist, cannot ignore this truth. You cannot transgress this truth, you who are the fruit of the suffering and blood of those who offered their lives for the fight for democracy. This is why I cannot help writing to you today in the face of the latest act of violation of this freedom by your services.

Mr. President, if I allow myself to write to you today it is because despite the differences of recent years, despite the criticism and especially despite the harmful behavior of your companions, not of struggle but of power, we continue to believe that you were still one of us. We thought (wrongly?) that we shared the same heritage, that of Ya Tshitshi, this man who at the heart of the Mobutian dictatorship knew how to maintain the flame of a Congo thirsty for freedom and social democracy, all things that we have hard to find at the moment.

Mr. President, we said among ourselves and we believed you when you affirmed that under your reign, there will be no more arbitrary arrests, no more secret ANR dungeons… How is it still possible that today Today Fred and Bienvenu were arrested, tortured and kept incommunicado for 72 hours by the National Intelligence Agency (ANR) before being released in the middle of the night only because there was a strong national and international mobilization ? I know that your zealous collaborators will tell you that these men are against you, that they are subversives, foreign agents and what not? I would simply tell you that it reminds me of Lambert Mende and his statements and that these expressions at the time were also intended for you. Had you forgotten it? I would also tell you that the law exists and that when a citizen is suspected of wrongdoing, there is a framework for hearing it. And that no service has the right to kidnap citizens, torture them, threaten them with death and prevent them from having the right to legal assistance. The rights of the defense are not only constitutional but they are sacred. Finally, I will tell you that you know Fred and Bienvenu and that less than six years ago you were in the same camp and had the same ambitions for the Congo. What changed ? Certainly not them because they continue what they did with you, loving and defending the Congo…

Mr. President, rather than quoting Churchill about those who forget the past and are condemned to relive it, I would like to share with you a word that Papa Bomboko confided to me in his sick room, “my son, the Congo is bigger than everything. Mobutu has passed, we have passed, Kabila will eventually pass but the Congo is eternal” Your regime will pass constitutionally in 5 years, what legacy would you like to leave? That of an opponent who would have betrayed not only his own principles but also those of his father? That of a dictator surrounded by a corrupt court only caring about their selfish interests and not the people? That of a leader who will end up betrayed by those he raised? These ministers, these senior officials, these magistrates, these securocrats who are repressing today in your name are not only betraying the Nation but also harming your presidency.

Tomorrow they will change sides like all those who swear, sing and dance for you today, while yesterday they swore, sang and danced only for Kabila. Look at them ! they are all around you.

Mr. President, one day, in my presence, you behaved like a true patriot and on this occasion you said that you hate those who betray you and traitors in general. Someone had responded to you, and yet you were surrounded by them. I remember you smiling and saying, I know that. That day, I said to myself, here is a statesman who does not forget where he comes from. Today, I find it difficult to recognize this statesman in the face of everything that is happening in my country. Indeed, as Fred stated after his release, such acts are not only “contrary to the law and regulations to which the DRC adheres but also a blatant negation of President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi’s commitment to humanize the security services”. I would like to be wrong, but how could I do so in the face of the arrest and torture of innocent citizens who mobilized for peace, security and the reconquest of our now occupied land?

Mr. President, those who tell you to repress all dissenting and critical voices are deceiving you. Those who tell you that you must crush the opposition are lying to you. They are leading you for a ride, those who flatter you and sing BETONNN every day and advocate not the people first but us first, the tribe first, the Udps first, the sacred Union of first, etc. If you want to become the president of all and the number one of the Congolese, there is only one thing left for you to do, unite the entire people, defend freedom and this involves today condemning what happened to Fred Bauma, to Bienvenu Matumo, to Crispin Tshiya, to Jean Paul Mualaba, to the photographer and driver arrested at the same time. For all of us we have the feeling of having gone back 10 years.

Mr President, you can no longer hide behind the “ I didn’t know”, “I wasn’t aware”. Now, you know, you know that the ANR dungeons are still open, you know that Fred and Bienvenu were arrested without having done anything, you know that all the charges that will be fabricated to justify this repression are false because you know them and you were in their place yesterday. So I beg you, condemn these acts and punish those who tortured them. By doing so, you would give us reason to continue to think that you are still one of us. Otherwise, history risks condemning you harshly and you will be considered solely responsible because the majority of your colleagues will abandon you as they abandoned your predecessor.

Mr. President, freedom is priceless. You know it and each of us is ready to fill the ANR cells and go to prison in the name of freedom and for the Congo. How can we remain silent in the face of the Occupation? How can we remain silent in the face of the scourge of corruption? How can we not react to the increase in repression? I wanted to tell you personally and remind you of one of your first words as president, you serve the people and you are accountable to them. Only by serving the people will you become a great president.

The imperative today must be the unity of the Congolese people and all the forces of the Nation to defend the integrity of our country. Those who think that the urgency lies in absolute power to consolidate achievements that only they see are deceiving you. You are the President of the DRC, it is up to you to take stock of the emergency and act in the general, non-partisan interest.

Thank you for the time you took to read me. Patriotically and for the freedom, unity and defense of the Congo, I ask you, Mr. President, to receive my deep respect and assure you of our commitment to the construction of a united, free, democratic, strong and independent.

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