Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Everyday the conflict in East-Congo is getting more absurd. While you're reading, more than 15 armed gangs are roaming through the area, killing, raping, fighting for power and resources. Animosity between tribes is growing as well. Therefore Free Press Unlimited launches a program to train local radio reporters in peace-journalism. 'We are training journalists to encourage the dialogue between hostile groups and prevent hate speech, this way we are contributing to the peace process', says Leon van den Boogerd, team-leader of Free Press Unlimited.


Taking confusion between hostile groups away through dialogue'In order to protect the people, we warm them for coming attacks and inform refugees where to find a save haven', says Van den Boogerd. In the training-program the emphasis therefore lies on the distribution of facts, rather than rumors. The central theme of the peace-journalism training is cohabitation. Within this context, the trainees create radio talk-shows in which hostile groups engage in discussions, aiming to improve their mutual understanding. Van den Boogerd: 'With this approach we attempt to get rid of this confusion, which an important root of the conflict in East-Congo'. In addition, citizens will be able to participate in talk-show discussions with their mobile phones. In order to improve the sound quality of these new programs, journalists are provided with better digital recorders and new telephone-equipment.

'Journalists are the watchdogs of human rights in Congo'
From Rwandan Hutu militias, political M23 rebels until indigenous Mayi Mayi warriors. The most diverse groups are joining the fighting in East-Congo. Not without reason: the area is extremely rich of recourses. After Australia, East-Congo is the largest distributor of Coltan, an essential raw material for mobile phones. All armed gangs brutally violate human rights. 'We train journalists to hold the perpetrators on account for their crimes, by revealing violations on the radio. This way, gangs become more cautious. Journalists are the watchdogs of human rights in Congo', says Van den Boogerd. Reporters from more than 14 Congolese Comunity-radiostations based in the province North-Kivu participate in the training program, united under the name CORACON. Since 2007, Free Press Unlimited supports more than 60 radio stations in the Democratic Republic of Congo to provide the inhabitants of this turbulent conflict-area with independent, reliable information.