Petition Closed
Petitioning Bharti Airtel Africa, Director of Operations Jean-Claude Mukendi and 3 others
This petition will be delivered to:
Bharti Airtel Africa, Director of Operations
Jean-Claude Mukendi
Vodacom
Millicom DRC, General Manager
Christophe Soulet
CCT DRC, Director
Cui Rensheng

DR Congo: Reverse the suspension of SMS text-messaging services.

Last week's general election in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has ignited significant social unrest and violence across the country, particularly in urban centers. On December 2, Human Rights Watch reported that 18 Congolese citizens died and at least 100 Congolese were seriously wounded as a result of election-related violence. As DRC commentators have observed over the past two weeks, the situation will get worse before it gets better.

During the days following the general election, Congolese government instituted a country-wide ban on SMS text-messaging services, citing reports of inflammatory rhetoric by opposition groups. The DRC's major telecommunications companies--Vodacom, Bharti Airtel, Millicom, and CCT--have readily complied with the government's demands. While their interest in restricting inflammatory text messages is well-intentioned, the SMS ban limits an essential source of information on instances of post-election violence and human rights abuses.

In 2008, during Kenya's post-election violence, the international community observed that SMS-based crowd-sourcing methods have become an essential tool of election monitoring and mass atrocities prevention in conflict zones. With few journalists reporting from the ground in the DRC, SMS technology represents the only opportunity for an active stream of information from grassroots actors and civil society in the DRC.

As concerned global observers and consumers, we're calling on the DRC's major telecommunications companies to reverse their suspension of SMS text-messaging services in the DRC.

Increased attention on human rights abuses in the DRC requires our ability to mobilize tens of thousands of concerned global citizens like you. After signing this petition, please share this action with your family, Facebook friends, and Twitter stream.


Letter to
Bharti Airtel Africa, Director of Operations Jean-Claude Mukendi
Vodacom
Millicom DRC, General Manager Christophe Soulet
and 1 other
CCT DRC, Director Cui Rensheng
I am writing to express my concern with your recent participation in a ban on SMS text-messaging service in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Last week’s general election in the DRC has ignited significant social unrest across the country. On December 2, Human Rights Watch reported that 18 Congolese citizens died and at least 100 Congolese were seriously wounded as a result of election-related violence. As accusations of electoral fraud become increasingly widespread, DRC commentators anticipate a precipitous rise in violence between disaffected civilians and Congolese security forces.
In light of burgeoning social unrest, mobile telecommunications companies were right to discern that the international community must move strategically to mitigate emergent conflict. However, recent decisions to suspend SMS service will only further the international community’s inability to respond to the crisis as it evolves.

While your interest in restricting the distribution of inflammatory text messages is well-intentioned, the SMS ban limits an essential source of information about election results, post-election instances of violence, and reports of human rights abuses.

In 2008, during Kenya's post-election violence, the international community observed that SMS-based crowd-sourcing methods play an increasingly important role in election monitoring and mass atrocities prevention. With few journalists reporting from the ground, an effective international response to looming civil conflict requires an active stream of information from grassroots actors in the DRC.

As concerned global observers and consumers, we call on you to reverse your suspension of SMS text-messaging services in the DRC.

Thank you,