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Congolese rebel leader makes death threats towards journalist online

The M23 rebels spokesperson Vianney Kazarama (C) speaks to the media at a stadium in Goma, 21 November 2012.
The M23 rebels spokesperson Vianney Kazarama (C) speaks to the media at a stadium in Goma, 21 November 2012.

REUTERS/James Akena

Journalist in Danger (JED) is extremely upset over death threats made by Mr. Vianney Kazarama – spokesperson for the M23 rebel group – towards a journalist in Goma, the capital of North Kivu, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

On 1 September 2013, Vianney Kazarama published a menacing message on Facebook, without stating the name of the targeted journalist. Here's an excerpt of the original message in Swahili: "Kuko mupasha habari moya wa Goma amesahu kazi yake anaanza pana habari za bongo. Asiwe na shaka mumasaha kidogo tutafanya kakitendo kadogo kenye katamufurahisha sana. Wandugu wa penzi katamihumisha rohoo, lakini sisi kama jeshi tunajuwa nini tunafanya…"

The message translates into the following: "There's a journalist in Goma who has forgotten how to do his job by spreading false information. But he shouldn't worry, because very soon, we will do a little something that will make him very happy. Dear beloved brothers, this will shock you, but as an army, we know what we're doing…"

According to research carried out by JED, this message was posted after Thomas Kubuya – a journalist for the private, Goma-based Virunga Business Radio (VBR) – posted information on Facebook about safety issues in eastern DRC.

Contacted by JED, Thomas Kubuya said "It was shortly after I published my post, titled 'Kibumba: Who does the truce benefit?' on Facebook, that Mr. Kazarama targeted me without explicitly naming me. Regardless of whether it is about me or another journalist, it's not up to Colonel Kazarama to shut us up; our profession requires us to publish information that is completely true and objective."

JED vehemently condemns and denounces the threats made against this media worker, who did nothing more than exercise his freedom of expression in publishing an intellectual analysis on a social network.

JED asks Mr. Vianney Kazarama of the M23 to take back his remarks, and asks all of the armed groups operating in eastern DRC to scrupulously respect freedom of the press and freedom of expression in all of the areas under their control.

JED will hold the M23 and its leaders responsible for any violent act that could put media professionals' lives in danger in eastern DRC.

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