Two TV Channels destroyed by fire in Kinshasa
A week only after the reopening of their programmes which were suspended by an illegal and unfair cutting of their signal for 21 days, both of the TV Channels “Canal Congo Television” (CCTV) and “Canal Kin Television” (CKTV), privately-owned by (Vice-President, Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo who is candidate to the second runoff of Presidential election), were again shut down on 18 September 2006 in early evening, by a mysterious fire which broke out and burnt a great deal of materials.
According to all the testimonies gathered by JED on the blaze place, journalists and technicians working for these channels were surprised by a sudden “Detonation” which sooner was followed by a huge flame. The latter spread out swiftly at the third upstairs level of the building that hosts editorial offices and studios of these channels. The same testimonies attest that there were important equipment damage and injured persons among which the General Manager of CCTV, Mr. Stephane Kitutu Oleontwa who was seriously burnt and admitted to emergency care in a local Hospital of the capital Kinshasa.
On 19 September 2006 in early afternoon, a troublesome situation reigned in front of the headquarters of these TV stations outlets where a crowd of supporters of the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), the Political Party of Mr. Jean-Pierre Bemba and some streetwalkers were stoning elements of the Police as they attempted to disperse the demonstrators. Questioned by JED, most of the demonstrators told the watch-dog organization that, this fire, which set ablaze the outlets of these TV stations just few days after the reopening of their broadcasts, is seen as “a barbaric act of sabotage”.
JED is seriously revolted by this awful sinister the most immediate consequence of which is but to reduce to silence Media, which gave the impression of “Really disturbing”. JED hereby recalls the substance of its last open letter addressed to the special representative of the UN Secretary General in DR Congo, Mr. William Lacy Swing. In that letter, JED voiced its strong fears vis-à-vis the situation of extreme high tension created and maintained around these TV channels, which were accused of all the evils, since the proclamation of provisional results of the 30 July first round of Presidential election.
To say the least, JED has noted that the destruction of these TV stations outlets by fire can be inserted in a logical series of incidents which have affected Media since the beginning of the year. And funny is that, apart from some mere statements of good intentions, the Government has never managed to carry out any thorough investigation to clarify them.
1. The “Radio Sankuru Liberté”, privately-owned by Mr. Joseph Olengakoy and based in Lodja, a territory located in the Eastern Kasai Province, was set ablaze in January 2006, by unknown persons.
2. The Headquarters of the “Radio television Message of Life: Radiotelevision Message de Vie” (RTMV) in Binza/Pigeon District, privately-owned by the Church “Army of Victory: Armee de Victoire” was wrecked on 22 May at about 21:00 (local time) by a dozen of strongly armed plain clothed men, who jumped down from three trucks of “Prado Make”. They destroyed the TV transmitter and then carried away the Video/audio mixing table, a computer, TV Monitor, and mobile phones. And they beat seriously four technicians that they had found at RTMV outlets.
3. The site hosting the relay Antenna of CCTV (Canal Compo Television) in Kisanga, which is a small town located not far from Lubumbashi, Capital City of the Katanga Province, was sabotaged on 29 March, by unidentified armed men. A maintenance technician assuring the permanence at that night was found stabbed dead.
4. On the night (from 15 to 16 April) in Butembo, (Second City of the Province of North Kivu, located at 350 Km from Goma, in the East of D R Congo), unidentified armed men seriously damaged the Transmitters of RTG@ ( RadioTelevision Groupe l’Avenir, privately-owned by a MP who is senior member of the Presidential Party), Digital Congo (privately-owned by President Kabila’s family) and the RTNC (Congo’s National Radio broadcasting and Television public Corporation).
5. “Tujenge Kabambare: Let us build Kambare”, the only community Radio based in Kabambare, which is a territory located at about 450 Km from Kindu, Capital City of the Maniema Province was wrecked and its Editor beaten, on 24 May by military officers who acted on orders by a well known Commander in the vicinity. The Commander even boasted of inflicting “such a punishment” against a Media which was disturbing him.
6. In regard to these incidents and attacks against Media, which have remained not only unpunished, but also unclear, JED demands that a thorough and joint investigation by the Government and MONUC (The United Nations Mission in DR Congo), can finally be carried out immediately, in order to determine causes and those responsible of this hard coup against Media, at few days of the start of the second round Presidential Election Campaigning.
JED urges that an end be put to all the threats, intimidations and the systematic stigmatization of Media and journalists, thus considering them as scapegoats of Politicians’ failure and therefore like privileged targets.
In accordance with the 22 June1996 Law N0 96/002 on the clauses of the exercise of the freedom of expressions in DR Congo, JED finally urges that be freed RTNC, in order to enable an equitable access of every body to this public Media, particularly during this election Time.