Fighting against human rights abuse

Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Clovis Mwamba

headshot of Clovis Mwamba
Clovis Mwamba

Clovis Mwamba writes about the refugee experience.

"Those killers, soldiers and guards there called me Mandela. Why? Because for the time I was in jail I witnessed many killings but they didn’t kill me.

I fled the country by boat, in disguise. Belgium friends – a collaborator to the Minister for Cooperation and a Civil servant from the Belgium embassy – gave me money to organise everything, so I had money to pay for everything, even glasses, everything, and money to bribe people to help me in crossing. I succeeded to cross the Congo River.

I was fighting against human rights abuse, advocating for democracy and rule of law in my country, and doing those things, it was really a passport to jail.

In Congo I could never be seated next to the glass wall. Those were my reflexes always – I would know always where I was seated, chair against the wall so I can oversee everything because I don’t know who will appear to kill me or abduct me. Lots of things like that were happening in my country. I’ve lost many friends like that. I couldn’t drive a car because you could be abducted by security cars. One or two or three stop you – one behind another, in front of you and you stop and they take you.

Being in Australia is for me a good experience. We have democracy here and I think for more than 40 years have voted democratically in this country, something that I couldn’t do in my country. There they organise the election in the morning and at 6pm in the afternoon they publish the results and the President has won by 99.99%. They do it for western people – they want to show there’s been an election. But Mobutu was a dictator, and his successor Kaliba. It’s the reason why I’ve been fighting against such a political regime."

You, Your Story and the World

You, Your Story and the World: Writing the Refugee Experience was a collaboration between Writers Victoria and the Ecumenical Migration Centre made possible thanks to the generous support of the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.