German prize honors activists in DR Congo

Dec 23, 2019 by

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BAMMENTAL, Germany — The German Mennonite Peace Committee’s 2020 Michael Sattler Peace Prize will go to a group of nonviolent activists in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

LUCHA participants demonstrate for clean water in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. — LUCHA

LUCHA participants demonstrate for clean water in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. — LUCHA

Under the name LUCHA, the group champions human rights, democratic participation, social justice, principled politics, ecology and nonviolence.

LUCHA is an acronym for Lutte pour le Changement (Struggle for Change). The organization started in 2011 as a youth movement in the eastern city of Goma and quickly spread to other areas of the country. The activists denounce injustice in politics and society in nonviolent campaigns.

LUCHA strives to inspire transformative initiatives for nonviolent conflict resolution, greater engagement of civil society, ecological management and politics free of corruption.

One of LUCHA’s first actions to gain national attention was the monitoring of the 2011 elections. It initiated a voting drive especially for first-time voters. Other actions addressed the need for clean drinking water and the often unbearable waste- disposal situation.

Many members of LUCHA have been repeatedly subjected to state repression, including arbitrary arrests and imprisonment. One of the leading activists, 33-year-old Luc Nkulula, died the night of June 9, 2018, when his house burned down. Witnesses doubt the official account of an accidental death.

The Michael Sattler Peace Prize will be awarded on May 21 (Ascension Day) in Rottenburg am Neckar, on the anniversary of Sattler’s martyrdom by burning at the stake in 1527. Two delegates from the DR Congo are expected to attend.

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