- 'Radio Sahuti ya Rehema' director Joseph Nkinzo has been released from custody after having been jailed by RDC-Goma rebels in control of Bukavu, eastern Congo Kinshasa (DRC). He reports of mistreatment while in custody.
The Kinshasa-based media watchdog group Journaliste en danger (JED) today reports that Joseph Nkinzo, director of 'Radio Sahuti ya Rehema' ("The Voice of Mercy"), which airs in Bukavu, was released from custody on 29 May.
Bukavu is the main town in South Kivu province, located in the eastern half of Congo Kinshasa (DRC). The area is controlled by the Congolese Rally for Democracy (Rassemblement congolais pour la démocratie, RCD/Goma), a rebel group supported by neighbouring Rwanda.
In a telephone conversation with JED on yesterday, Mr Nkinzo said that during his detention he was whipped for 45 minutes by the assistant director of the security services, an otherwise unidentified man named "Zébédé" who is reportedly the brother-in-law of Bizima Karaha, one of the rebel group's leaders.
The journalist told JED that his station continues to broadcast, but the station's management has gone into hiding because they refuse to accept the demands put forward by the RCD/Goma at the time of Mr Nkinzo's release.
The rebel group had set a number of conditions for the station director's release. These included Mr Nkinzo's dismissal, the resumption of broadcasts of 'RTNC/Bukavu and Goma' (Congolese National Radio-television, a public channel controlled by the RCD/Goma) news bulletins, the restoration of a programming schedule dedicated to evangelisation, and the cancellation of all programmes focused on politics, including "Paix et réconciliation" ("Peace and Reconciliation").
JED in a press release today recalled that RCD/Goma intelligence agents had arrested Mr Nkinzo on 28 May and detained him for 36 hours. The move against the station director came in response to several issues that angered the RCD/Goma.
The rebel group's list of grievances against 'Radio Sahuti ya Rehema' included the station's refusal to retransmit 'RTNC' news bulletins (approx. 150 minutes a day), the airing of news about massacres and rapes committed by armed groups in the villages near Bukavu.
It further included the station's association with the non-governmental human rights organisation "Héritiers de la justice" ("Heirs of Justice"), and changes to the station's programming schedule which were deemed contrary to the rebel group's "Guidelines for opening a radio or television station in liberated regions".
JED, which is based in government-controlled Kinshasa, has protested the rebels' demands and their treatment of Mr Nkinzo, but they are unlikely to be heard in Bukavu. JED protests violations of press freedom committed by the Kinshasa government equally forcefully.
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