The people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the worldwide human rights community suffered a terrible loss on June 1 when human rights defender Floribert Chebeya Bahizire was apparently assassinated after being summoned by the police. Floribert was undoubtedly Congo’s most prominent, committed, courageous human rights activist.
From his early years when he won the Reebok Human Rights awards in 1992 for fighting the Mobutu dictatorship, through the national conference process, the civil war, the Laurent Kabila regime, the Congolese elections, and the current deteriorating dispensation – Floribert persevered, finally paying the ultimate price for his vision of a free and democratic Congo. He should be remembered as one of Congo’s greatest freedom fighters, a leader of Africa’s democratic movement, and an international human rights giant.
It was 20 years ago when the Endowment first encountered Floribert, and awarded a grant to the organization he led, La Voix des Sans Voix, in 1991 for $31,289. It was the first grant NED made in Zaire, and there can be no question that Floribert paved the way and set the standard for all that followed. In recognition of his unsurpassed contribution to the cause of democracy and human rights, the NED is proud to host this memorial symposium honoring the life and work of Floribert Chebeya Bahizire.