Vital Ndaboba Badheka
charcoal on paper
17" x 14"
$375 (framed or unframed)
Democratic Republic of the Congo
It was an ordinary evening for Vital Ndaboba Badheka, a student leader at
the National Institute of Education in Kinshasa. There was no way to know
night's end, his intervention on behalf of a student whose bag had been stolen
by a soldier would momentarily turn him into an enemy of the state.
At approximately 9:30 pm Badheka and eleven other students were seized by
soldiers, loaded into a truck at gunpoint, beaten and told they would be shot
the next day. Taken to the Kokolo military barracks, the students were stripped
of their clothing and personal possessions, then repeatedly whipped and threatened
with execution throughout the course of the night. Forced to perform tasks
such as standing on their hands and doing push-ups, any faltering was met with
more blows to their naked bodies.
In the morning, the students were made to clean up human excrement with their
bare hands, as their open wounds remained untreated. At 10:00 am, they were
put on a truck and informed of their imminent execution. Instead, the truck
drove straight to campus, where all twelve students were released without charge
or explanation. Though the local government promised an investigation into
this incident, no known action has ever been taken against those responsible.
The case of Vital Ndaboba Badheka is but one in a legacy of arbitrary arrests
and torture by army, security and police forces in the Democratic Republic
of the Congo, where routine mistreatment of detainees occurs with the knowledge
that few, if any, torturers are ever brought to justice.
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