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Police violently break up meeting of journalists in Mbuji-Mayi

(JED/IFEX) - A gathering of some 100 journalists on 31 May 2007 in Mbuji-Mayi, capital of East Kasai province, was violently broken up by police led by Commander Jean-Claude Kabeya, also known as "Shegué". Journalists were beaten and one of them, Luboya Nokia of Radio Mont Carmel, was seriously injured and taken to Bonzola Hospital in Mbuji-Mayi. Other journalists told JED that they lost work-related equipment during the attack.

About 100 journalists representing all types of media outlets had gathered for an extraordinary general assembly on 31 May at 2:30 p.m. (local time) at a bar, "La Primature", in the Diulu neighbourhood. According to information obtained by JED, the goal of the meeting was to suspend the local coordinator of the Congo Press Union (Union de la presse du Congo, UNPC), who was reportedly guilty of badly managing the Union and of misappropriating funds.

During the meeting, the journalists noticed that there were non-journalists in the room, whom they asked to leave. It was just after these intruders, who had been identified as security service agents, were expelled from the meeting that police, who had arrived in two Jeeps, burst into the bar. The police commander ordered his men to disperse all the journalists in the room.

JED is shocked by this illegal police intervention to break up a peaceful meeting and by the gratuitous violence used by the officers. JED notes that the right to association and assembly is guaranteed by the country's Constitution.

To put an end to the impunity that police officers enjoy, JED asks the minister of the interior, decentralisation and territorial security, General Denis Kalume Numbi, and the general inspector of police, Daniel Katsuva, to prosecute Commander Jean-Claude Kabeya and all the police officers who took part in yet another shocking police operation, which violated the rights guaranteed to citizens by the Constitution of the republic.

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