Reporters Without Borders reports
NORD-KIVU MILITARY COURT HOLDS JOURNALIST ON M23 SPYING CHARGE
Reporters Without Borders is very worried by radio journalist Blaise Bahisha’s detention for the past eight days in Goma, the capital of the eastern province of Nord-Kivu. Bahisha was until recently the manager of Radio Sauti ya Rutchuru, a community radio station in Rutchuru, 70 km north of Goma.
Ten days ( now ) is bloody ridiculous. He is accused of spying for M23 in M23 controlled territory. What's interesting is the confidence of the authorities, I suspect that Blaise Bahisha's captivity is more about sending a message to M23. That however, the Congolese government is behind this appalling assault on Human Rights comes as no surprise.
The national police arrested Bahisha on 17 April and handed him over to Nord-Kivu’s military court a few days later. He is accused of spying for the M23 rebels and “participating in an insurrectional movement.”
It would appear that the Congolese National Police are useless, In fact more useless than FARDC ( The Congolese Army ) if that is possible.
“The paranoia of the Congolese security forces is the sole reason for Bahisha’s arrest,” Reporters Without Borders said. “He is innocent. There are no grounds for thinking he was an M23 spy. On the contrary, he fled the town of Rutchuru to escape the pressure that the rebels were putting on him and his radio station.
“His arrest and the charges brought against him are grotesque and unjust, and have just contributed to the already difficult situation in which he founds himself. We urge the Nord-Kivu military court to release him without delay.”
I agree that this is " grotesque and unjust ". This is not about paranoia though it is about power. FARDC kill, rape and rob without restraint in the Eastern DR Congo. Why would they give a toss about the civil and human rights of Bahisha ? The reality here is that the regime of Joseph Kabila has once again proved it is unfit to govern the DR Congo.
According to the information obtained by Reporters Without Borders from its partner organisation Journalist in danger and several local sources, Bahisha fled to Goma on 30 March after M23 members threatened him in Rutchuru. The town’s rebel-backed administrator, Benjamin M’Ponimpa, replaced him as the station’s manager because of his reluctance to broadcast M23’s anti-government propaganda.
This is not confirmed as far as I can see but it sounds a hell of a lot more plausible than the jacked up spying allegations. Ironically I suspect Bahisha would now be more than happy to disseminate any anti government information he can lay his hands on.
Bahisha was charged with “spying and gravely endangering state security” on 23 April. The authorities say he was found in possession of a computer that had been stolen by the M23 rebels. He has been asked to pay the sum of 1,000 dollars (800 euros).
"...spying and gravely endangering state security...." Something that the current Kinshasa regime do on a daily basis and far worse. As for the computer stupidity the less said the better. What does ring true is the attempted extortion. It is hard to get reliable income data for the DR Congo but the CIA puts the average income per year over the last 12 years at $ 300 US. That is probably on the low side. Never underestimate the greed and corruption of officials.
When reached by Reporters Without Borders, the Nord-Kivu military court’s prosecutor said: “If the charges against him are not established, I will order his immediate release. If they are, we will recommend granting him a provisional release.”
It would have been nice to have the name of the military court’s prosecutor. One hopes he will do his job and dismiss the charges for the fabrication they so obviously are.
He added: “We are in the process of working calmly on this case, with his lawyers. I am awaiting instructions from Kinshasa. I think he could be released by Saturday (27 April).”
The eyes of the world are watching Goma. Something the fools of Kinshasa would do well to consider.
Hat tip: Charly Kasereka L'Actu Du Kivu