DRC violence fuels international concern
International aid workers continue to decry worsening humanitarian conditions in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Violent militia clashes have intensified across Congo in recent months, especially as President John Kabila delayed his mandate to step down from office. Earlier this month, more than 4,000 people, mostly women and children, fled violence in the eastern provinces over a period of three days. The violence this year has so far displaced more than 57,000 people, compared to 44,000 people all last year.
Jeanine Bandu Bahati, who leads a peace and development nonprofit group in Congo, told the UN Security Council of massacres, rapes, and kidnappings. In one instance, she said militants shot a 54-year-old mother of nine, and kidnapped and raped one of her daughters. “This is a time bomb,” Bahati said. “Women of the DRC want to be considered, and want you to respond to their cry of alarm and distress.”
Jonathan Allen, the U.K. ambassador to the United Nations, called for international pressure to ensure government accountability and free elections slated for December. “Let me be clear, humanitarian aid will only ever provide temporary relief in this crisis,” he said. “The key root cause is political instability, which drives the deteriorating security and humanitarian situations.” —O.O.
Pakistani court acquits suspects in blasphemy killing
A Pakistani court acquitted 20 Muslims suspected of staging a 2014 attack that killed a Christian couple accused of blasphemy. The incited mob burned alive Shahzad Masih, 26, and Shama Shahzad, 24, in an industrial kiln following accusations that they burned a Quran. Authorities in 2016 sentenced five men to death over the incident, and eight others received prison sentences. “This case could have been a watershed moment for the Pakistani government to regain confidence of its minorities and the international community regarding concerns over the violence perpetrated in the name of blasphemy,” senior Supreme Court advocate Saiful Malook, told Morning Star News. Open Doors USA ranks Pakistan as the fifth worst country for Christians, who continue to battle blasphemy accusations and forced conversions. —O.O.
Spanish pro-independence leader detained in Germany
A German court on Monday ordered the continued detention of former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont while he awaits a decision on his extradition back to Spain. Authorities arrested Puigdemont on Sunday morning as he traveled from Helsinki to Brussels. The former leader fled to Brussels following a failed independence declaration in Catalonia in October. Spain took control of the autonomous region and issued the European arrest warrant to extradite Puigdemont on charges of rebellion, sedition, and embezzlement. Following his arrest, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Barcelona, Spain’s capital, to demand his release. —O.O.