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Carter Center Statement on the Death of Floribert Chebeya Bahizire

The Carter Center is deeply saddened by the death of leading Congolese human rights defender Floribert Chebeya Bahizire and calls upon the U.N. Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to undertake an immediate and independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding his death on Wednesday, June 2.

"Floribert Chebeya Bahizire worked tirelessly for decades to protect the rights of his fellow citizens so that they might enjoy the fruits of democracy even in the face of tremendous turmoil and tragedy. His death is an incalculable loss for the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and for the global human rights movement," former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said. "We at The Carter Center extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends."

Chebeya was executive director of Voix des Sans Voix (Voice of the Voiceless), one of the most effective, credible, and durable human rights organizations in the DRC. Chebeya had been harassed, threatened, and detained by authorities in the past for his human rights activism.

The Carter Center stands united with all DRC human rights defenders in this moment of great loss for the country.

It is imperative that human rights defenders in the DRC are protected as the country prepares for elections in 2011 and, more immediately, during the sensitive period leading up to the 50th anniversary of independence from Belgium on June 30.

The Carter Center has worked in the DRC since the 2006 national elections to advance democracy and human rights by observing the electoral process, implementing programs that advance reform in the justice and mining sectors, and establishing the Human Rights House in Kinshasa to amplify the messages and work of Congolese human rights organizations.


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