Responding to the deaths of two University of Kinshasa students on Thursday 15 November following the unlawful use of lethal force by Congolese police against campus protestors, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Joan Nyanyuki said:
“The use of live ammunition to disperse student protests on university campuses in the DRC is abhorrent and illegal. No one should have to die because they exercised their right to freedom of expression or took part in a peaceful protest.
“The government must immediately launch a thorough and impartial investigation into these student deaths and bring to justice those found to be responsible.
“The authorities must ensure that all students injured in these protests receive comprehensive medical treatment. We also urge the leadership of the university to listen to student concerns and allow future student protests to take place, without involving the police in settling disputes on campus.”
On Monday 12 November, students at the University of Kinshasa held peaceful protests demanding an end to a lecturers’ strike that was adversely affecting their education.
Police were called in and used live bullets to disperse the students. Hyacinthe Kimbafu, a graduate student studying informatics was shot and taken to the university hospital. He died of gun wounds on Thursday 15 November.
On hearing the news, hundreds of students gathered on campus to protest Hyacinthe’s death. The police once again intervened with live bullets, killing Rodrigue Eliwo, an undergraduate biology student, and wounding at least seven others.
University of Kinshasa lecturers have been on strike since 8 October demanding better pay. This is their second strike this year. Students have said they will continue their protests over the weekend if their grievances are not addressed.