#JeSuisKinshasa: Violent protests in the DRC
Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) may have shut down the internet and messaging services in a bid to prevent further protests in the country, but the unrest continues offline.
- UPDATE: The authenticity of a video we reference below has come into question. Read on for details.
The government says at least 15 people have been killed in clashes this week, but civil society groups put the figure much higher and accuse the police of firing directly at protesters.
- The demonstrations were triggered by a government announcement over the weekend that the presidential poll scheduled for 2016 could be postponed for one year.
- President Joseph Kabila, who first took power in 2001, is constitutionally barred from running for another term in the upcoming elections. But a revision of the electoral law - now being debated in the Senate - could extend his time in office.
- The three main opposition leaders, viewing this as a tactic to delay the elections, called for mass peaceful demonstrations at a press conference and on social media.
- But Monday's protests quickly became violent, with harrowing images and scenes emerging from the streets of the capital Kinshasa on social media (not shown here due to their graphic nature).
- Clashes between protestors and security forces continue on the streets of #Kinshasa in the #DRC today. People are protesting a law that may delay the #elections due in 2016. At least 4 people were killed in the protests on Monday. A government spokesman has denied that security forces fired on protestors. #DemocraticRepublicofCongo
- After IRIN posted this Storify, a well-known DRC-based freelance journalist got in touch with one of our editors, raising questions about the authenticity of the video Dominic Johnson tweeted above.
- Johnson, an editor and analyst who covers the DRC, suggested the video was in fact from 2012, in the neighbouring Republic of Congo.
- This is first time that so many Congolese citizens have used social media to mobilise protests and share videos and images of violence online, using the #Telema and #JeSuisKinshasa hashtags. The country still has a very low internet penetration, compared to its neighbouring countries in western and eastern Africa.
- As is the case of many protests which play out online today, both authentic and fake images and videos were circulated locally and internationally. Before Congolese authorities shut down internet and messaging services in attempt to prevent the spread of information about the protests.