An overwhelming and revolting testimony of a nun against the regime! To read, dear sisters, dear friends,
« If the Lord does not guard the city, it is in vain that the guards watch ». Ps. 126, 1b.
Many want to hear from you. Finally, I can share them with you. Thank you for your prayers for us.
Tear gas in churches and even in a hospital.
On Sunday, January 21, at Mass, when we had not even received the final blessing or even the instructions regarding the march, we were surprised by the tear gas jet. It was firing everywhere. We ran here and there in the church looking for people who had brought margarine to apply on the face. When they stopped firing tear gas, the priest, the vicar of the parish Saint Augustine, brave took a cross, passed the Christians and began to walk, we followed him. There was also a crowd of non-Catholics waiting outside to walk with us. A few minutes later, the police attacked us. They seized the priest, threw him in the mud and tore his liturgical ornaments. The crowd dispersed. Brave young men continued the march to a certain level, ten minutes from the Church. They met an ambush, the police fired point-blank, one of them was hit and died. They returned with the body to the parish.
Soldiers were ordered to remove the bodies
At the same time, the Christians from three surrounding parishes (Saint Benoit, Saint Laurent, and Saint Christine) arrived at Saint Augustine, the young people were singing: « We are gathered now, we are a force ». The police asked for reinforcements. Two trucks filled with soldiers wearing police uniforms with white helmets called in Kinshasa, the soldiers of Mamadou surrounded us. This was the beginning of the war between the military doubled the police against an unarmed people. I do not know the number of tear gas they threw in a church archicomble. The church was full of smoke. And they were shooting outside. In fact, they were lobbying not only to stop us from continuing the protest march but also to seize the body of the young person shot and killed. Indeed, they had received the order to recover all the bodies to erase the traces. Unfortunately there were journalists who had already taken photos. We saw young people climbing the church wall to flee fire, they fall into the walls of the church, wounded by the barbed wire that held them. Those inside were suffocated by the gases that kept blowing from all sides.
On the other hand, we just learned that the military broke into St Joseph’s Hospital where they also fired tear gas. Inadmissible!
When they killed the boy, there were young people who fled to the surrounding houses. The search in these houses then began. Police and soldiers routinely entered to find the boys and arrest them. Even those who did not walk with the Christians were arrested.
We called several times MONUSCO but she did not come to our rescue
Finally at around 12 noon, after a lot of pressure, they decided to enter the church, they evacuated the crowd, they retrieved the body we had hidden at the parish secretariat. There was not even a sheet to cover the dead, fortunately I had taken an extra loincloth thinking of myself in case something happened to me, I gave it to cover the body. A taxi arrived with the red cross to take the remains to the morgue. Bizarre, it is the parish that paid for the body of this boy is embalmed. We called MONUSCO several times, hoping that these people would come quickly to rescue us in vain. The MONUSCO people arrived when the church was already empty, we were no longer encircled by the famous soldiers, villains as they are called Kinshasa.
In fact we learned that there are churches that were targeted, the police were ordered to prevent us from walking by all means including Saint Augustine, ours, Saint Joseph, Saint Alphonsus, Saint Christopher, Saint Francis of Hall where an aspirant was killed. Ironically, she was the daughter of a colonel. I forgot the other names of the targeted parishes.
Clerics beaten and undressed
This time, the police and the military were more violent towards the clergy. Our Assumptionist brother, a deacon, was beaten up. Our priest, a passionist, was stripped naked and beaten in front of his parishioners, several others were tortured in the premises of the ANR, intelligence agency.
As in the days of communism, secret services were dropped in churches.
We would think we live in the Soviet Union era. During the Eucharistic celebration, there were young people paid by the members of the government to inform them of the course of the Mass. So they knew when they could start the tear gas. Sister Eva testified that there were two young people right next to her who were communicating over the phone by SMS all the time. Two aspirants said the same thing. And at the end of our ordeal, young choristers said they saw them too. Sad reality !
Tear gas has consequences that we do not measure. We all had tears in our eyes despite the margarine we applied to the face, many coughed. There are people who have had their skin shredded when it touched their bodies because of the force with which they were thrown. Even several days after the event, the face continues to have a burning sensation, eyes too. Some had a sore throat.
People are starting to understand that the struggle of the Church is all over the country
Roseline and I returned to community shortly before 1 pm, finally leaving our « open air prison » as Cardinal Monsengwo points out in his message of January 21st.
This day was very stressful, more than December 31st for the people who were there. The Catholic Church thinks to continue the struggle. In February, another march is planned. I believe that many people will join us.
Even families of military and police, think finally join the Church to protest, this calvary touched by the death of their daughter, the aspirant Thérèse. People are beginning to understand that the struggle of the Church is about the whole country. This is the small sharing of what we experienced.
Sœur Maggio, Religieuse