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Three human rights activists and one CNTV cameraman arrested for attempting to organise peaceful march

(JED/IFEX) - Journaliste en danger (JED) demands the unconditional release of Floribert Chebeya Bahizire, executive director of the organisation Voix des Sans Voix (Voice of the Voiceless) and assistant director Dolly Ibefo Mbunga, as well as Donat Tshikaya, member of Réseau National des Droits de l'Homme en RD Congo (RENADHOC, a national human rights network) and Coco Tanda, a cameraman for the private television station Canal Numérique Télévision (CNTV).

JED also demands that camera equipment confiscated from Canal Congo Télévision (CCTV), during what witnesses describe as violent police operation, be returned without delay.

According to information obtained by JED, Chebeya, Ibefo, Tshikaya and Tanda were arrested on the afternoon of 15 March 2009 at the RENADHOC headquarters in Barumbu, a district north of Kinshasa, just as a press conference held by Chebeya and Ibefo on behalf of the RENADHOC was ending. The four were taken against their will and secretly detained by the Special Police Forces, commonly known as "Kin-Mazière", in Kinshasa's Gombe district.

During the press conference, which Tanda was covering for CNTV, the human rights activists announced details for the peaceful march and sit-in that was scheduled to take place on the following day in front of parliament. The group hoped to deliver a memorandum to parliamentarians.

The four victims, who committed no offense, were arrested arbitrarily and illegally. The constitution of the DRC guaranties freedom of association, assembly and expression as well as the right to peaceful demonstration. Furthermore, to arrest the activists and journalist for having held and covered a press conference about a peaceful march is an abuse of power that seriously threatens the individual and civil liberties obtained after a long struggle by the Congolese people.

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