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The long march to freedom of expression in the Republic of Congo

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Republic of the Congo

They were six activists detained for 125 days in the Congo, and accused of undermining the internal security of the state. On Wednesday, July 14, the activists were released. It's a provisional freedom without facing trial, following a court order.

Coordinator of the movement ‘’Ras-le-bol’’, Bertrand Menier says it arbitrary arrests.

‘’The files were empty and we thought that the friends were arbitrarily detained. And when the seals were opened, in the case of Dr. Alex Dzabana, they were photos of Guevara, photos of old friends with whom they began the struggle. And in the case of Christ Dongui, it was nothing at all. And the others? Jean-Luc Paka, nothing at all. So we thought that this was an arbitrary arrest and that it was time to release them. And now they are free, they are free. In principle, they should not have been charged’’, Menier said.

Far from savoring his newfound freedom, Christ Dongui, who was one of the six activists, shares his concern.

‘’We live in a country, in an open-air prison. At any moment we can leave because we are activists. We are men of the field. Not only this provisional freedom that we have been granted, it is a way to infringe our freedoms. We are activists, but I do not think that this will prevent me from being on the ground tomorrow or the day after because it is my fight that we have chosen a path for the awakening of consciences’’, the Congolese activist said.

Today, activists are demanding the release of all prisoners of conscience.

‘’In particular, the Minister André Okombi Salissa and Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko, unsuccessful candidate in the 2016 presidential election, who are, in our view, arbitrarily detained until today. And so, the fight continues. It is not only them. There are other prisoners who are in pre-trial detention until today. They have been on trial for two years’’, Menier added.

Far from abandoning his fight, Christ Dongui calls for unity and dialogue, to build the country.

‘’In terms of good governance, we are not good students with the IMF, with all the Congolese population, knowing the situation of our elderly, students and many others who do not receive their due. We need to build our country together. That's why I call on them to dialogue with the others and to free the prisoners of conscience who are left’’, Belvy Dongui said.

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