In 2016, with your help, Pragmora successfully shifted the agenda of international activism towards pragmatic efforts to encourage and pressure DR Congo President Joseph Kabila to obey his country’s constitution and step down at the end of his second and final term in office. According to the Congolese Constitution, President Joseph Kabila’s last day in office was December 17, but it had become apparent 12 months earlier that Kabila intended to ignore the Constitution and stay in power. On December 6, 2016, Pragmora launched the ’12 Days of Peace Action’ campaign. This campaign sought to change President Kabila’s decision-making calculation.

New York Times Editorial, leading DRC analysts, and international activist organizations take up Pragmora’s call for an Exit Path for President Kabila

Throughout 2016, activists and international governments repeatedly asked, told, and demanded that President Kabila to assure the country that he would step down when his second and final term in office ended on December 17. He did not. As Pragmora pointed out, even if Kabila had wanted to leave, he had no where to go.

Pragmora activists sent emails to key government leaders in the DR Congo, European Union, United States and Canada to urge them to find an Exit Path for Kabila so that realistically he and his family would have somewhere to go.

Through the email messages activists sent by Pragmora activists, and media reports quoting Pragmora’s message, the activist agenda changed. Following Pragmora’s lead, the call for an Exit Path for Kabila was echoed by many, including the New York Times Editorial Board.

Your actions matter. Your actions have influence. You can be a peacemaker.

From ridicule to sanctions against some who subverted the Constitution

The ’12 Days of Peace Action’ also urged international governments to impose financial and travel sanctions on those in the Congo who were directly responsible for not scheduling the Constitutionally-required presidential elections. This was a classic carrot-and-stick approach whose aim was to change President Kabila’s ‘stay-go’ calculation.

In early December, the EU Human Rights Committee met to discuss potential sanctions against human rights abusers in the DR Congo. On Thursday December 8, Pragmora launched an intense and highly focused campaign to urge the individual EU decision-makers in the room to support sanctions against the individual subverting the Congo’s democracy.

This action initially attracted ridicule from international activists who ‘informed’ us that the meetings were about human rights sanctions–which of course we knew. Despite this, Pragmora’s intense advocacy continued through the weekend, with positive results.

On Monday December 12, the EU announced sanctions against four individuals for human rights violations…. and against three individuals for subverting elections and democracy. Through the emailed messages from Pragmora activists to carefully targeted the EU decision-makers and with meticulously laid out logic for sanctions based on subverting democracy, it appears that Pragmora’s activists successfully brought legal action to the democratic cause in DR Congo.

Your actions matter. Your actions have influence. You can be a peacemaker.

Fred Bauma and other political prisoners are released

On March 15, 2015, 26 participants in and observers of a workshop to encourage youth participation in elections and political processes were taken into custody. All except two were quickly released. Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala remained ‘disappeared’, there whereabouts and safety unknown. After 90 days, the National Intelligence Agency publicly transferred Fred and Yves into police custody after which they were incarcerated in the notorious Makala prison in Kinshasa.

Pragmora, along with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, worked tirelessly to call for their release while keeping their names front and centre with international governments and the United Nations.  On March 15, 2016, after a full year in prison, Fred and Yves went on a hunger strike that lasted 12 days, bringing more attention to their cause.

On Monday August 29, 2016,  after almost 18 months in prison, Fred and Yves were finally released–to great jubilation and fanfare.

Fred has since become the Congo’s leading voice internationally for democracy and human rights in his country. He’s spoken with US Congressmen and to EU parliamentarians. He’s spoken at Harvard and Oxford universities. And met with many NGOs in North America and Europe.

Both young men have directly expressed their thanks to Pragmora activists who spoke up on their behalf.

“Thank you for all the support you gave me during my imprisonment. It brought me a little light in dark moments.” — Fred Bauma

Your actions matter. Your actions have influence. You can be a peacemaker.

Kabila be a hero

Early in 2016, Pragmora’s campaign focussed on encouraging President Kabila to ‘Be a Hero’ by becoming the first Congolese president to peacefully step down and transfer power in accordance with the Constitution.

Although this did not happen, our campaign message was echoed by key players, including two Congolese presidential candidates, Congolese activists, and by the Chair of the United States Congress Human Right Commission, Congressman James P. McGovern.

With your help, Pragmora will continue to implement campaigns for peace and democracy campaigns that are pragmatic and have a realistic chance of success.

Your actions matter. Your actions have influence. You can be a peacemaker.

Translate »