DR Congo

Renowned Congo Human Rights Activist Floribert Chebeya laid to rest

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Kinshasa 29 June 2010 - The renowned Human Rights activist, Floribert Chebeya was laid to eternal rest in Kinshasa on Saturday, June 26 amid hundreds of mourners who had gathered at the funeral ceremony of the veteran whose entire life was characterized by courage and perseverance for safeguarding and fighting for the cause of human rights.

'Chebeya was considered as an icon of bravery and fearlessness when it came to upholding the cause of human rights-- No intimidation or hurdle could deter him from raising his voice against arbitrary arrests, illegal detentions, human rights abuses or violations-regardless of whosoever would be the perpetrators, remarked a young human rights activist in despair and agony. While the death was deplored by ruling elite, the Opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, the president of the UDSP (Union for Democracy and Social Progress), currently out of the country, commented through a letter read out during the funeral ceremony, 'Your death; result of a terrible crime, has broken my heart, you earned the respect of the nation and a place among heroes'.

'Family of the deceased averted an imminent disaster, by not acceding to certain demands of choosing June 30, the country's independence day, as the funeral day', commented a keen observer.

MONUC was represented by Louis Marie Bouaka, Officer in charge of Human Rights among the government ministers and diplomats who attended the funeral and paid their homage to the departed soul. Alan Doss in an earlier visit to the residence of the deceased, had expressed condolences and sympathies on behalf of the SG and the mission to the widow of Chebeya.

Floribert Chebeya, president of La Voix des Sans-Voix (The Voice of the Voiceless), 47, was found dead tied up on the rear seat of his car on June 02, the day after he was supposed to meet John Numbi, the Police Chief which he couldn't. His driver, Bazaba has been missing until now. The mysterious and blind murder has been strongly protested and condemned at home and abroad. After calls for a transparent probe from human rights activists and groups inside DRC, the government has suspended the Police Chief, John Numbi along with a number of Police officers in the wake of Chebeya's death. While the Dutch forensic experts' final report may take sometime, possibility of torture hasn't been ruled out.

It may be recalled that the death of Chebeya had been condemned by UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, Navi Pillay and SRSG, Alan Doss. The SG had called for a thorough, transparent and independent investigation under the law. He had also offered UN assistance to the investigations, if Congolese government wished.