Target: Alexis Tambwe Mwamba, Minister of Justice
Goal: Free six youth activists sentenced to two years in prison for trying to protest a violation of the constitution.
Six Congolese youth activists have been sentenced to two years in prison for “attempting to incite disobedience.” They appear to be prisoners of conscience, held solely for peacefully expressing their political beliefs, and they must be released immediately.
Rebecca Kavugho, Serge Sivyavugha, Justin Kambale Mutsongo, Melka Kamundu, John Anipenda, and Ghislain Muhiwa, members of the youth organization Lutte pour le Changement (Battle for Change, LUCHA), were arrested as they prepared for a protest the following day. The group has been outspoken about the majority ruling party’s apparent intention to force a third term for President Kabila, who has already served two consecutive five-year terms. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s constitution enforces a limit of two terms for the president.
Although President Kabila has not declared any intention of running for a third term, the ruling party has made several attempts to alter the constitution in order to change the limit. LUCHA is adamant that the current term limit must be respected, but has voiced its dissenting opinion only through peaceful means such as protests and sit-ins.
Freedom of expression is a universal human right, and imprisoning activists for simply making their opinions known is a human rights violation. Sign the petition and demand that these prisoners of conscience be released immediately and that the charges against them be dropped.
I am writing to demand the release of Rebecca Kavugho, Serge Sivyavugha, Justin Kambale Mutsongo, Melka Kamundu, John Anipenda and Ghislain Muhiwa, youth activists with the Lutte pour le Changement (LUCHA) who have been sentenced to two years in prison for “attempting to incite disobedience.” Their imprisonment is a clear violation of their basic human right to freedom of expression, making them prisoners of conscience. As such, they must be released immediately.
LUCHA has been outspoken in its belief that President Kabila should respect the limit on presidential terms laid out in the Congolese constitution. However, the ruling party has made several efforts to alter the constitution in order to extend the president’s tenure in office. Although LUCHA has adamantly opposed this proposal, it has done so through peaceful means such as sit-ins and protests.
The six activists were arrested as they prepared for a protest the next day. They have each been tried and sentenced to two years in prison, but their only “crime” has been peacefully calling for the constitution to be upheld in its current form. I urge you to drop the charges against them and release them immediately.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Aliven Sarkar