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Nobody In The World Is Happier Right Now Than These Two Congolese Guys

Pretty sure.

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Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala went to an event about youth and democracy last year — and never returned home.

Amnesty International

They'd helped organize Filimbi, an event that brought together pro-democracy youth activists, musicians, journalists, and others to Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Apparently, the Congolese authorities didn't like the idea of a pro-democracy forum so close to Congo's next, er, act of democracy — its presidential elections, scheduled for later this year.

Kenny Katombe / Reuters

President Joseph Kabila is constitutionally limited to two terms, but he wants to run for a third. The government has been cracking down on opposition leaders and even unaffiliated grassroots democracy activists across the country.

Fred and Yves were arrested with around 40 people last year. The authorities also arrested musicians from Senegal and Burkina Faso, four foreign journalists, and a US diplomat. All the foreigners were later released.

Fred and Yves were turned over to Congolese intelligence officers. Fred was kept for 50 days, Yves for 40, without access to lawyers, or phone calls to family — and without being charged with any crime.

Amnesty International

Intelligence officials moved them to regular prison after nearly two months. Amnesty International ran a global campaign to protest their detention. These letters are just the ones that came to their Nairobi office in Kenya. In all, more than 170,000 messages in support of Fred and Yves made their way to Kinshasa.


They were finally released!

via Amnesty International

It's been a big couple weeks for Yves and Fred's organization, LUCHA, a French acronym for "Fight for Change." Six of their members were arrested in Goma — totally on the other side of the country — in February, and only released at the end of July.

Human rights groups are demanding the Kabila regime stop detaining pro-democracy protesters. Amnesty International calls them "prisoners of conscience" and says dozens remain stuck in jail.

The charges against Fred and Yves haven't been dropped, and they could face the death penalty if convicted. But this week, they're the happiest guys in the world. See for yourself. / Via Dirk Shaka and Amnesty International

Jina Moore is the global women's rights correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Berlin.

Contact Jina Moore at

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