Thoughts about protest & the Congo

Early last week I asked you all to pray for the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This week, I ask you to continue to pray for democracy to prevail.  The week has been full of stories of the excessive force used against the people as they protested a change to the laws affecting their next election.    A vote in the senate  was scheduled last Monday, and postponed all week, until at last on Friday; the measure was voted down.  The measure was to be taken up by both houses of the Parliament on Monday; but now there is further news.

The best compilation of  news  is here: http://kinshasa-congo.com/kinshasa_news/

From that page I have included parts of a story –

KINSHASA: Democratic Republic of Congo’s lawmakers will remove part of an electoral reform bill the opposition says was aimed at keeping President Joseph Kabila in power, the head of the national assembly said on Saturday.

Parliamentarians will vote on the bill on Sunday, Aubin Minaku said, potentially ending a violent standoff in which some 42 people have been killed in the capital and other parts of the country during violent protests over recent days.

“The line in question (will) be purely and simply withdrawn from the law,” Minaku told journalists in Kinshasa. “We have responded to [the people’s] expectations so that there is serenity.”

(Source:  http://www.brudirect.com/0-world/world-africa/item/17540-congo-parliament-says-to-drop-controversial-part-of-election-law     –Take care when going to this link tho….it opened multiple windows on my computer at one point; so  I urge caution when following that link!)

other stories here –

http://www.independenttribune.com/news/world/ap/election-measure-being-withdrawn-after-congo-unrest/article_f7d4e284-91bf-51ea-a746-40d459ab2686.html

“Critics say the proposed change to electoral law would have paved the way for President Joseph Kabila to prolong his time in power. Kabila has been president since 2001 and under current law is barred from seeking another term.

Human rights groups say dozens of people died amid the unrest and hundreds of other activists and opposition members were arrested.”

Not sure if “serenity” has taken place among the people, but there has been a return to the routine of living.  I must indicate that I misspoke earlier in the week. Phone service was not down; SMS (TEXTING) was done along with the internet.

I have a few “take-aways” from this weeks events.

  • Whether it is Kinshasa or a city in the US; when you demonstrate and “loot” you loose a lot of regard for your situation.  The Chinese shopkeepers have been a target in the city of Kinshasa. One news story reports “stores displayed the message “Ya bino moko” — “it belongs to you, too” in the local Lingala language — in a bid to discourage the rioting demonstrators who shattered windows, broke down doors …”  (source:https://en-maktoob.news.yahoo.com/chinese-become-targets-dr-congo-anti-government-riots-032146766–sector.html).  Makes me think a bit about Ferguson MO where demonstrators destroyed local businesses.
  • The ability of the Government to shut down the SMS & Internet is scary. (http://allafrica.com/stories/201501231142.html)  During the Arab Spring, the folks used Twitter to send information and during the recent Hong Kong events. In Hong Kong when people were locked out of the SMS – another method was found to communicate – FireChat. (http://www.newsnet5.com/newsy/how-firechat-bypasses-chinas-internet-shutdown-in-hong-kong)  It is an interesting story !  Technology beat the strong arm of the Government
  • How people, without guns will still find a weapon; fire; rocks; sticks & stones
  • How the voice of the people can be very powerful
  • What would I do if this happened in the USA ?  Do we, the people, have the courage to stand up for our constitution and protest in a peaceful manner or would we be throwing rocks and setting tires on fire?  Would our leaders take the action we saw this week on demonstrators?
  • What makes a demonstration turn violent?  Was it the demonstrator or the police that starts the chaos?  Does a show of force by the police cause it? Do the police throw on their shields to protect themselves? Who throws the first rock or fires the first bullet? Again; I think of people in cities across America who have protested this past year and the message got lost in the violence. To what benefit?  Is the looting and burning an excuse for not having a solution? Is it an excuse to get attention?

Sadly, many died in the Democratic Republic of Congo this week; some protestors; some police. The numbers vary widely between what the Government reports and the Human Rights watch groups report; could be 10 or 40. None the less; they were sons, daughters; brothers, fathers, mothers, to someone, and their deaths will be grieved by those to whom they were closest.  Very few in the rest of the free world even know, but you do. So pray for those who lost lives this week; and the loved ones left behind to grieve.

My family there has been safe throughout this past week and will return very soon to the US as scheduled.  Please pray for those who continue to serve in far away places where democracy is threatened. And, pray especially for our US Military members and their families who are often separated for great lengths of time; oceans apart!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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