Congo: peace demonstration planned on anniversary of martyred bishop

 Tomorrow, on the anniversary of the death of Archbishop Munzihirwa, community groups in Bukavu are planning a peaceful demonstration to call for an end to hostilities in Kivu, in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Cyprien Birhingingwa Migabo, President of the Civil Society Group in South Kivu and Assistant Coordinator of the Observatory for the Amani Program, sent a message to Congo's President Joseph Kabila informing him of the demonstration.

In the letter, Migabo writes: "October 29 is the 12th anniversary of the taking of Bukavu by the AFDL (Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo, the movement that was fighting against Zaire President Mobutu) and the massacre of several important figures in the province of South Kivu, among whom was Archbishop Christophe Munzihirwa, the leading defender of human rights in South Kivu."

Archbishop Munzihirwa of Bukavu (South Kivu), called international attention to the tragic situation of the refugees coming from nearby Rwanda, who went into east Congo (then Zaire). For two years (1995-1996), Archbishop Munzihirwa launched various appeals proposing a path of peace for the Great Lakes Region. He gained the attention of the entire world, in confronting the situation being caused by the uncontrolled entrance of refugees in the already overpopulated eastern part of the nation. He was killed on October 29, 1996 by members of the AFDL, as he was returning to the Cathedral after having spent an entire day comforting the refugees and victims of violence.

Twelve years later, Kivu is once again at the center of the storm. In spite of the peace accords, which led to the registering of all military forces in the region in the "Amani"("peace" in Swahili) program, the fighting is worse than ever in North Kivu. The soldiers following rebel leader Nkunda (see Fides 10/10/2008), supported by foreign powers, have taken over the Virunga National Park area.

In their statement, the representatives of civil society regret the fact that neither the national army nor the Blue Helmets of the MONUC (the UN Mission in Congo) have been able to stop the rebel attacks. They also call for the resolution of the grave social and economic problems in the region and ask the central government to move quickly in installing programs to improve the living conditions of the population in the two provinces.

On October 12, Pope Benedict XVI launched an appeal for peace in this troubled area of the Congo.

Source: Fides

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