Thursday, December 15, 2011

"DR Congo election: Deaf anger at ban on texting "

It seems the importance of keitai mail isn't limited to the Japanese deaf... From BBC News, 12/14/11:

Deaf people in the Democratic Republic of Congo say a ban on texting threatens their lives because they no longer receive warnings of violence.

The government banned SMS messages more than a week ago to preserve "public order" following disputed elections.

President Joseph Kabila was declared the winner, but his main rival, Etienne Tshisekedi, rejected the result.

There are an estimated 1.4 million deaf people in DR Congo, which is recovering from years of conflict.

Last month's elections were the second since the 1998-2003 war which claimed about four million lives.

Four people were killed in the capital, Kinshasa, after Mr Kabila's victory was announced. He is due to be inaugurated for a second term next week.

The official results gave him 49% of the vote against 32% for Mr Tshisekedi.

The opposition says they plan to organise mass protests, alleging the polls had been rigged.


"Since 3 December, we've been unhappy," said Pastor Kisangala, the deaf community's religious minister in the capital, Kinshasa.

"We're finding it very hard to communicate. All our communications used to go through SMS messages," he says.


Interior Minister Adolphe Lumanu said he had been "forced to suspend all cellular [mobile phone] text messaging services to preserve public order" because they had been used to "incite ethnic hatred, insurrection and xenophobia" around the 28 November presidential and parliamentary elections.

The measure means deaf Congolese people have been condemned to indefinite isolation.

"Our members are scattered across the city, some are ill in hospital, others are dying. Without communication we don't even know about it," Mr Kisangala said.

Read the whole story.


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