When I returned to school, I created an organization to fight against ethnic divisivenessamong students.
When our numbers swelled to include over sixhundred members, we decided to run for student electionsagainst the ruling party. We refused to endorse Mobutuand his old political cronies.
The academic authorities accused us of being backed by foreign countries. Though we lost the student election, our message washeard within our university, and we were respected.
Then the president of theuniversity called us to say that our movement was becoming very politicaland would be banned. He threatened me with expulsion for the secondtime.
I had one year left until graduation and so I tried to negotiate. We said, "We willnot accept this ban. We will continue our movement because we think that ourmovement is not against the regime but is against some of these ideas which will affectthe university in a very dangerous way." He accepted our compromise.I graduated just when the general discontent with Mobutu began to open the politicalsystem.
The time was right to start a human rightsorganization and participate in public affairs.
I recruitedactivists from our two university organizations. Our founders were old friends. We knew each other and trusted one another. We called ourselves ASADHO, and set out toinvestigate and document human rights abuses, to play a key role in society, to maintainindependence from all political parties, and to hold onto our principles. Theorganization was national, drawing together people from different regions.
We began working with lawyers, journalists, and physicians.
Each group tried tostrengthen or promote human rights by using their particular expertise.
Forexample, our physicians gave us information about human rights violations suffered by victims of AIDS. Some people who hadserved as human guinea pigs had been injected with the AIDS virus, without their knowledge, in the name of "scientificresearch."
We relayed that information to the outside world, to human rights groupsand to the press. We published reports at the same time. We knew exactly how many people were killed. And we passed on the information.
Then the government began to take notice.
I was arrested and beaten up many times in 1993 and 1995, and I have had problems withhearing in the left ear ever since. Nobody would rent me an apartment, because they were afraid that the security forces would destroy their house.Once when I was walking on the street the cops came, pointed their guns inmy direction, and forced me into a car. They brought me to the CampTshatshi [home of presidential elite troops] and began punching people inmy presence.
One guy said,
"After him, it will be you."
I got nervous. I said,
"Look, the American authorities know that I am here."
After they beat me, they let mego.In August 1995 I had dinner with the Swiss ambassador, the chargé d’affaires of Belgium, and some of my colleagues. That same day, I had published a report