The Pro-democracy Activists Released: The United Nations Delegation visit may be the cause of insecurity in Goma

Communiqué about the release of the 13 Pro-Democracy Activist from various pressure groups arrested in Goma on Wednesday April 17th, 2024 during a public demonstration against insecurity in Goma, North Kivu, the Democratic Republic of Congo

Background information

Goma is facing serious insecurity characterized by killings of people with guns, forcefully taking people’s properties using guns and gunshot at night, in one week 20 people were killed in town by armed people. Generally the authors of these barbaric acts are either the army officers or people who are perceived to be Wazalendo.

Security context

The security situation deteriorated in Goma two weeks before the visit of the United Nations high placed Officials in Goma and in other parts of the country. The situation is expected to cool down and come back to normal at least a week after the visitors have left Goma. Generally we have observed that insecurity in Goma is more political, despite the facts that soldiers were highly involved in crimes, at government level statements and media reports pointed out the Wazalendo which is a local militia backed by the government, and nothing much circulated about crimes committed by the regular soldiers including the death of two Police Officers who were killed while they wanted to intervene. The Wazalendo are being accused by the United Nations of being a dangereous armed group and the United Nations have called upon the government to disarm this group, it is also the same conditions argued by Rwanda. However the local communities do identify themselves in the struggle of Wazalendo who continue to enjoy popular support. It may be in these lines in which we may understand the politics of making Wazalondo criminals in order to make deals with the United Nations and please Rwanda in order to advance in peace deals. We continue observing that once there is a political agenda in North Kivu especially in Goma, the best way to make political demands and push for political deals has been often to create insecurity by killing people.

Various events have enfolded which could point to the argument that it was not an error, first of all in the last few months, the Army Commandant of 34th Military Region was called to Kinshasa on allegations that he was working with FDRL, and then after the Security Task-Force which brought together civilians and the Army was weakened and divided in small groups, and of the recent we observed very few Police Officers in Goma and actually many were instead deployed on Road to deal with Cars rather than the security of people. During Festive seasons we always see a heavy deployment of various security services in Goma but this time, despite the insecurity nothing much was done.

These are some of the few things we can share as per now, to help our audience to understand the situation. We tend to think that the Government is looking out for ways to distance itself from the Wazalendo in order to attract the attention of the United Nations and Rwanda.


The demonstrations to claim for security in Goma

As the security deteriorated in Goma, we were informed about a Press Release by the Rebels condemning the killing of people and claiming they will come to save the population in Goma, and as the pro-democracy prepared the demonstrations we were informed that some among them withdrew and claimed that their friends were sponsored by the rebel leaders in order to hold this demonstration. Instead of instead of restoring order and security we observed a campaign against those who called upon the Government to ensure there is security in Goma, and this may explain why this particular demonstration which was not political was not allowed and the organizers arrested.

Realized this Friday

Today Friday April 19th, 2024 all the 13 people members of various Pro-Democracy Pressure Groups in Goma were released. They were arrested on Wednesday April 17th, 2024 as they held a demonstration against the current insecurity in Goma, the Mayor of Goma banned the demonstration and instructed the security service to arrest those who will try to demonstrate.

During the arrest we observed that they did not resist and also no much brutality was observed, and during this no one was injured, then they were taken to the Police Investigation Department known as PD in Goma where they were detained. Questions also may be asked why they were taken to the Police Investigations department which is not common with other forms of arrests during the demonstrations in Goma. The purpose was just to put them aside as the United Nations Delegation finishes its work in Goma, which came also generally to meet with the authorities and Aid Workers.

We visited the place and observed that they were only kept at PD and their freedom was restricted from leaving that place but they were outside, putting on shoes, and using their phones, and anyone who wanted to come and talk or visit them was allowed without any problem.

However we also observed that they had no food and PD could not give them food, they had no psychological support and slept on the floor which caused them pain.

Way forward

A serious documentation, research and advocacy work at all levels is much needed in order to alleviate the plight of people in Goma and protect the people from political deals,

There is a need to work on fundraising in order to help activists when they are arrested in Goma,


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