Armed group torches reporter’s home in eastern DRC
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the military authorities in charge of Ituri province, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to do everything possible to identify those responsible for a targeted arson attack on a reporter’s home and bring them justice. Ituri is one of the eastern provinces where journalists have repeatedly been the victims of abuses and massacres.
Prince Syaghendera, a reporter for Tuendelee community radio and the Bunia-Info24 news website, has been in hiding for nearly a month, ever since his home in Komanda, in Ituri province, was reduced to ashes in the space of a few hours on 26 September while he was out reporting. Alerted by neighbours, all he could do was confirm the devastation on his return.
Those who witnessed the arson attack on his home said it was carried out by members of Chini ya Kilima, a militia that has been responsible for many massacres and cases of looting in the region. Syaghendera says he was directly threatened by this group earlier this year because of reporting in which he blamed them for abuses and acts of criminal violence.
“It is absolutely essential that the provincial authorities carry out a thorough investigation to identify those responsible for this criminal act and bring them to justice,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “We ask them not to abandon the province’s journalists and media, or else the still dire security environment will end up depriving its population of the essential news reporting that journalists in this part of the country are still trying to provide.”
Other recent victims include RadioTélévision Communautaire de Babombi director Joël Musavuli, who was stabbed to death by unidentified assailants in his home in Biakato, in Ituri province, on 14 August after receiving repeated death threats in connection with his coverage of abuses by both armed groups and military in the east of the country.
The state of siege declared on 6 May in Ituri and neighbouring Nord-Kivu province, placing them under military control, has so far failed to pacify the region, with the result that media personnel are still exposed to a great deal of violence. Many journalists have had to flee their towns or villages and at least six community radio stations have had to stop broadcasting because of threats or a fuel shortage.
The DRC is ranked 149th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.