Several DR Congo activists freed: Lawyer

Six Congolese pro-democracy activists detained at the weekend were released on Thursday , though several others are still being held at an unknown location, a human rights lawyer said.

AFP| Updated: Mar 19, 2015, 23:07 PM IST

Kinshasa: Six Congolese pro-democracy activists detained at the weekend were released on Thursday , though several others are still being held at an unknown location, a human rights lawyer said.

Sylvain Lumu, of the Kinshasa-based rights group League of Electors, said that among those still detained is prominent activist Fred Bauma, of the Struggle for Change (Lucha) organisation.

The released rappers "are very tired and they don`t want to make any comment, because they don`t want to take any risks", Lumu said.

"They said they were not tortured."

Some 30 people, including foreign journalists and a US diplomat, were arrested in the capital Kinshasa on Sunday while attending a pro-democracy rally.

The journalists and US diplomat were only briefly detained.

But on Tuesday, several more activists were arrested in Goma at a sit-in demonstration protesting the arrests of their colleagues in Kinshasa.

The crackdown took place as the country prepares to hold controversial presidential elections in 2016.

The activists arrested in Kinshasa were attending a meeting to raise awareness and mobilise young people to press for good government.

Among those held were activists from Senegal`s Y`en a Marre (Enough is Enough) movement, a major player in the fight against a controversial third term for Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade.

Also detained were members of Burkina Faso`s Balai Citoyen movement, which helped topple president Blaise Compaore from power in October 2014.

The Congolese government said Wednesday that the activists from Senegal and Burkina Faso would be expelled from the country and banned from returning.

Authorities said the activists had gathered to plan a "campaign to destabilise" the mineral-rich nation, which included "acts of violence".

Rights groups have expressed concern over the arrests which they see as a bid to muzzle criticism ahead of the elections.

"Arbitrarily arresting so many activists in violation of fundamental rules of international law and holding them with total disregard for due process sends a worrying signal that space for debate around DRC`s elections is shrinking fast," said Amnesty International`s Christian Rumu on Thursday.

Tensions have been rising in DR Congo after up to 42 people died in violent protests in Kinshasa in January.

Protests had erupted over an electoral bill that was seen as offering a way for President Joseph Kabila to stay on beyond the end of his mandate in 2016.