On Monday, 24 April 2017, the Congolese government presented journalists with a horrific video showing the execution of two UN experts killed in Kasai in March as they investigated the recent killings and massacres of the population. Michael Sharp of American nationality, Zaida Catalán of Swedish-Chilean nationality and their Congolese interpreter Betu Tshintela were kidnapped on March 12 in Kasai. Their bodies were found two weeks later.
In presenting this video to Kinshasa journalists and some international press correspondents, Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende said the perpetrators were “terrorists” who use the Kamuina Nsapu label.
The images in the video are very disturbing indeed. They show how the American was the first to be executed followed by Zaida Catalan. Due to the appalling nature of these images, the international community has criticized the Congolese government’s decision to broadcast the video.
For the UN spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, “The video is proof of crime. We do not think it should have been published. We do not think it should have been shown…One can only imagine how traumatic it is for the families of the victims. ”
Despite these criticisms, the Congolese government by the mouth of its spokesman Lambert Mende declared:
“The video about the two UN investigators shows very well their killing by Kamwina Nsapu. There are even words, we hear, those who translated what was said in Tshiluba, all that … and we see them very well at work, it is very visible … We are not categorical [ That it is the Kamina Nsapu, ed.], We are not judges. We have images that show Kamwina Nsapu doing that. If they are not Kamwina, the judge will say so. But we have shown what is needed to stop talking about the police and the army. Those who accuse the armed forces also have no elements. So we wanted to show what is the nature of this violence that the people of Kasaï undergo today. It is terrorist violence. It is not a violence of social demand. Besides, we do not see why we have to negotiate with terrorists. Why only the Congo is called upon to negotiate with terrorists. We must repress them. That is our duty. ”
The broadcast of this video and the comments of Lambert Mende raise several questions to which we will try to answer.
The most important question is who really killed the two UN investigators. Are we to believe in the version of the Congolese government that points its finger at the Kamwina Nsapu group? Is the video so obvious that it incriminates the Kamwina Nsapu group?
Surely, it would be irresponsible for anyone to believe what Lambert Mende declared simply because the video reveals details that cast doubt on the government version. As Jean-Claude Katende, the President of the African Association for the Defense of Human Rights (Asadho) in Kinshasa, said: “It is based on the fact that the people we saw around the experts wore a red ribbon around their heads. This ribbon can be put on anyone. The independent judiciary cannot not take this distinctive element into account in order to reach the conclusion that it was the militiamen of Kamuina Nsapu who assassinated the two experts.
The Kamwina Nsapu group is not the only one wearing a red ribbon in Kasai. Why then was Lambert Mende so quick to accuse this group?
THE COURAGE TO SAY LOUD AND CLEAR WHAT ALL THE WORLD KNOWS ALREADY
For us, the reason is clear. The murder of the two UN investigators is a conspiracy to discredit the Kamwina Nsapu group and justify the excessive use of force against them.
In any investigation of a crime, the question that the investigator asks is simple. Who benefits from the murder of Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalán? Does the Kamwina Nsapu group benefit from this crime? Not at all ! These two UN experts had come to Kasai to investigate the atrocities of which members of Kamwina Nsapu are victims. There was no good reason for the members of Kamwina Nsapu to kill the UN envoys.
The truth is elsewhere: the murder of Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalán benefits the Congolese government. To date, all the evidence on the atrocities in Kasai clearly demonstrates the involvement of the Congolese government, which excessively uses the force of arms to silence a group of the population claiming its rights. Several videos show how government policemen and soldiers are massacring a defenseless population. They massacre everything in their path, men, women and even children.
Those who killed Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalán did not want the whole world to know the extent of the disaster in Kasai. Interestingly, the killing of these two experts supports very well the cause of the Congolese government which can now afford to repress what it calls a group of “terrorists.” But, one must really be ignorant of the culture of Kasai to swallow the version of the government without any questioning.
The overwhelming evidence of the conspiracy is not in the wearing of the red ribbon but rather in the use of the language. In the video, we hear the killers speak not only Tshiluba but also French and even Lingala. At the fateful moment when the killers shoot at the UN experts, their leader is heard shouting several times “SHOOT LISUSU. (Lisusu means again in Lingala). Anyone who knows the culture of the Kamwina Nsapu group will tell you that their main language is Tshiluba. In an intense moment such as the assassination of two UN experts, French and Lingala are languages that the Kamwina Nsapu militiamen would have used last.
The use of language in the video suggests one thing: the killers certainly belong to the army or the Congolese police. Members of the army particularly use Lingala and French in their communications. This could explain why the government is in possession of this video and refuses to say how it was received.
Why would the Kamwina Nsapu militiamen film their crime and refuse to claim it? It is clear that this group has nothing to do with this macabre plot. The real criminals simply manipulated events and circumstances to make the crime appear to be executed by the militiamen of Kamwina Nsapu.
The Congolese government claims to carry out an investigation and the “judge” will give us the conclusions. Will the judge be independent and impartial in his or her judgment? Not at all. Will he / she have the courage to say loud and clear what everyone already knows? Absolutely not.
Some will accuse me of reaching hasty conclusions without having any evidence. For me, everything is proof in this story.
The possession of the video by the government is proof, the timing and nature of its broadcast is proof, every detail of the video is proof. If there is an independent international investigation, it will come to my conclusion: the Congolese government planned and executed the murder of Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalán.