In Beni, in the east of the DRC, the police have been unleashed over the last two days against pupils who were peacefully demonstrating at the town hall. The arrests of small children and the use of live ammunition are highly reprehensible acts that the authorities, at the highest level in Kinshasa, must address.
After gassing, arresting and locking up around sixty pupils on Thursday, the Congolese national police moved up a gear on Friday by firing live ammunition at the pupils who, for the past eight days, have been taking up residence at the Beni town hall, where they were holding a sit-in. The tents erected by the demonstrators in front of the mayor’s office were burnt and their belongings confiscated. Seven pupils were injured and taken to the Beni general hospital. Today, at 8am, the police came to stifle the peaceful demonstration of the pupils, most of whom were under 12 years old, by firing tear gas and live ammunition, » a member of civil society in Beni told a local media.
The students’ demand was that President Félix Tshisekedi should come to their region to bring peace.
Why such brutality against children who are only making a legitimate demand? How can we understand that the police can fire live ammunition at little children who are peacefully demonstrating to call for help from their President? Turning guns on innocent souls while armed rebels roam freely, spreading terror in the same region? And how can we understand the silence of Félix Tshisekedi in the face of these flagrant human rights violations? Is the Congolese President aware of what is happening in Beni? In any case, such acts are reprehensible and the police officers responsible should be identified and punished with the utmost rigour.
According to the latest news, the children arrested yesterday were finally released on Friday and handed over to their families.