A human rights activist well known for his militancy and determination to see justice done was shot dead on Wednesday by unknown gunmen in Kirumba, North Kivu Province, in the east of the troubled Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), UN-funded Radio Okapi has reported this week.
The station quoted witnesses as saying that two armed men entered the residence of Michel Tengeneza Kasereka (37) around 7pm and shot him in the head, while he was escorting a visitor to the door.
The year 2016 has been a tough period for Congolese human rights activists and outspoken journalists, who had to the bear the anger of security forces and intelligence agencies for their open criticism against the regime of outgoing President Joseph Kabila.
The Center for the Study of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights (CEPADHO) has decried the loss of Kasereka, describing him as a ‘dedicated’ activist. The organisation also called on the authorities to thoroughly investigate his killing and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Many killings of political and human rights activists and journalists remain unsolved in the DRC, as hitmen – believed to be hired by either the government or rebel groups – disappear as quickly as they came.
Kasereka, who was the Kirumba civil society honorary president for 10 years, was working for the Regional Council for the Development of NGOs before his killing, Radio Okapi said.
In its 2015-2016 report, Amnesty International deplored the ill-treatment of human rights activists in the DRC, saying that they have become easy targets for intimidation, threats, arbitrary arrests, as well as being held incommunicado in secret detention.
Members of youth movements such as Filimbi and LUCHA are also constantly arrested and held in secret locations with no access to family visits and lawyers, the rights group said.