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Death threats against JED's two leaders

(RSF/IFEX) - 1 September 2011 - Reporters Without Borders is deeply shocked by the death threats received by the president of Journalist in Danger (JED), Donat M'Baya Tshimanga, and its secretary-general, Tshivis Tshivuadi. Journalist in Danger is the Reporters Without Borders partner organization in the Democratic Republic Congo.

An email message with the subject line "Jed-Afrique: Attention Monsieur" was sent at 13:44 on 26 August to [email protected] from [email protected], an address registered to someone called Patrice Emungu. It said:

"Mr. Mbaya and Tshivuadi,

We are aware that you are paid to smear our country in the eyes of our partners. You will soon pay for this. You and your families.
You just wait.

You are also destroying the careers of politicians in the government.
We know you get money from the opposition in order to combat the government.

You were paid 50,000 dollars to combat the young parliamentarian Kisombe.
Be ready for the final battle.
A word to the wise..."

There is no evidence that Yves Kisombe, a ruling party parliamentarian, gave orders for this threatening message to be sent, but he is named in it and it was clearly sent by someone who supports him. Reporters Without Borders therefore calls on him to ask his supporters to calm down and display some restraint.

"These threats are unacceptable and are accompanied by a web of lies," Reporters Without Borders said. "JED is a recognized and respected organization whose sole objective is to defend freedom of information and the safety of journalists. It has been doing this with courage for more than 10 years and is neither manipulated nor biased. And it is not involved in any political 'combat,' despite the message's insinuations."

"This intimidation attempt is typical of the climate of intolerance accompanying the start of the campaign for the general elections on 28 November. We are very worried by the possibility of suddenly seeing the country swept by a wave of repression and violence against government critics."

At the start of August, Kisombe used extremely violent language to insult and threaten Eugénie Ntumba, the editor-in-chief of the television station RTVS1.

JED responded by organizing a "march of anger" in Kinshasa on 26 August in which almost a thousand journalists took part. At the end, they handed a letter to Evariste Boshab, National Assembly speaker and secretary-general of the ruling People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD), calling for Kisombe to be stripped of his position as a parliamentary representative.

At the same time, journalists' organizations and the heads of the leading news media announced a six-month embargo on media coverage of Kisombe's activities and the creation of a support network for Ntumba.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
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