Greenpeace statement on the murder of human rights activist in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Press release - June 8, 2010
Greenpeace unreservedly condemns the murder of Floribert Chebeya Bahizire, Executive Director of the Congolese human rights organisation, La Voix des Sans Voix (VSV), who was found dead in his car in Kinshasa on Wednesday June 2, 2010. We extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

Greenpeace also expresses serious concerns for the welfare of Chebeya’s driver, Mr. Bazana, who remains missing.

Floribert Chebeya Bahizire was an outspoken civil society critic and a leading ‘voice for the voiceless’. He showed exemplary courage in his peaceful pursuit of basic human and social rights for Congolese people and through his efforts to strengthen and safeguard the law by highlighting injustice in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

His death comes just weeks before this resource-rich country celebrates 50 years of independence.

"For the Congolese to be truly independent, and for the DRC to be truly democratic, people like Chebeya must be able to speak out freely on behalf of communities and individuals whose rights are being violated and resources plundered, often with the involvement of foreign companies," said Greenpeace Africa’s campaign director, Olivia Langhoff.

Floribert Chebeya Bahirize’s pursuit of justice led him to support efforts by forest communities in the DRC to stand up for their rights. On September 2006, a seminar organized in Bumba by VSV gave 29 villagers and human rights activists the courage to sign a petition to the government complaining of logging practices by the companies SIFORCO, a subsidiary of the Swiss German Danzer group, and TransM. In reaction to the petition, SIFORCO filed a libel suit against them, which is still being fought.

Greenpeace deplores any form of intimidation leveled at courageous members of civil society and supports the numerous calls by Congolese and international human rights organisations and the United Nations for an independent and thorough investigation into the death of Floribert Chebeya Bahizire and into the disappearance of Mr. Bazana.

Contact:

Fiona Musana, Communications Director Greenpeace Africa, tel: +27 79 512 9381

Filip Verbelen, Greenpeace International forest campaigner, tel: + 32 4 96 16 15 86

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