Remembering our partner and mentor, Pascal Kabungulu Kibembi

Pascal Kabungulu Kibembi

On Sunday, June 23, KAIROS delegates to the DRC took part in a ceremonial commemoration of Pascal Kabungulu, the  former Secretary General of KAIROS’ partner organization,  Héritiers de la Justice, based in Bukavu, eastern DRC. Pascal was murdered 8 years ago, in front of his wife and children, by armed men who declared, “We were looking for you, and today is the day of your death.”

Pascal was a life-giving man of courage who struggled for human rights for all. KAIROS was honoured to be part of this commemoration.

Pascal Kabungulu Kibembi: Quiet but determined campaigner for human rights in the Congo
– Pascal’s obituary in The Guardian, August 2005

Pascal’s widow, Deborah Kitumani, wrote the folllowing speech for the Commemoration.  It was read at the Commemoration by Pascal’s sister.

It has now been eight years since you left, leaving me a widow and our children orphans. We miss you dad. Dear Pascal, through these few sentences we want to express our deepest regrets at not having you with us. You were for us a model husband and father. Your expertise and your engaging personality made you the most famous man in the defense of human rights in DR Congo and in the African continent.

You were never afraid to report any human rights violations, at any time and in any circumstance. You denounced loudly, on the radio, on TV, in newspapers, in conferences or seminars, all the violence against human rights in the Great Lakes sub-region. These enemies of peace did not wait for you to arrive at the end of your path, they quickly pulled your life away in the belief that when a tree is cut, its roots will also die.

We know Dad that wherever you rest now, you hear our cries. Thou art gone, but we are your roots and will defend to our last breath, the cause of the oppressed. We will denounce out loud as you did, so that the whole world becomes aware of the fate of the population which is victim of the violation of their rights.

You left,  Dad, but your work remains and will always remain etched in the hearts of human rights activists. We, your children, cannot today avenge your death, but we know that sooner or later the Almighty God will bring justice and the guilty will pay for their crimes.

While you were living, Dad, you told us these words, “When I’m gone, do not try to hold me back, let me go, I have so many things to do and see, after my work here on earth. Do not cry with me in mind, just be grateful for the wonderful years we spent together; especially, never let evil take a place in your hearts. In my absence you can defend what is right, you can avoid evil and always try to do good; that is how you will become peacemakers. You may accept to go to jail, to undergo any torture, to be abused for a cause that can save the lives of your fellow citizens.

These words have remained etched in our hearts; they comfort us and give us the courage to continue to fight against the violation of human rights.

We also want to encourage those who now give themselves body and soul to fight against the violation of human rights in the DRC. We know that your lives are in danger, but do not give up and do not stop loudly denouncing these crimes. Dear human rights defenders, your job is difficult and fraught with pitfalls, at any time you receive death threats, forcing you to stop to perform your duties. You are intimidated by whipping, imprisonment without reason, but do not let go. You are today the pride of our country by informing the whole world about the atrocities of rape and violence in Congo.

We, wife, sons and daughters of the late Pascal Kabungulu, are far from you at this time, but still we continue to fight and claim loudly that peace returns all over the territory of DR Congo. At this moment to honor and immortalize your name, we have created a foundation in your name, “FOUNDATION PASCAL KABUNGULU” to help orphans of human rights activists who like us want to continue their studies to prepare their future, but also to pursue the work of their parents and to defend the rights of the oppressed. We also demand that the country’s authorities recognize and do justice to all those valiant heroes and human rights activists who lost their lives trying to save the lives of others.

Dear friends, thank you once again for the love you showed us when the assassination of our dad occurred; now it’s time for us to continue the work he has left. We all felt sorry to see you leave us so early dear papa, but our faith has brought us comfort and consolation. Papa Pascal, we will be separated from you for some time still, but your memory will help soothe our pain. We know that you are not far from us. We, members of your family, firmly believe that the blood you have shed serves to sap the growth of the tree of Peace and Human Rights in the DRC, in the Sub-African Great Lakes region and around the world.

KAIROS’ Trading Rights education card on Pascal and his work (PDF)

Photos of the commemoration

Filed in: Africa, Gender Justice/Women of Courage

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