Protesters Denounce Beating Death of Refugee

24-year-old's family had moved to Brazil to escape fighting in Congo
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 5, 2022 1:10 PM CST
Protesters Denounce Beating Death of Refugee
A protester on Saturday simulates the violent death of a Congolese immigrant in Rio de Janeiro.   (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)

(Newser) – Demonstrators gathered on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and other Brazilian cities to protest the killing of a 24-year-old Congolese refugee who was beaten to death on Jan. 24. The killing sparked outrage and revulsion across the nation, the AP reports. In Rio, they gathered outside the beach kiosk where Moïse Mugenyi Kabagambe had been working in Barra da Tijuca, a neighborhood known for its upmarket condominiums and shopping malls. The two lanes in front of the kiosk were covered by banners with images and photos of Kabagambe. One sign held by more than 10 people, had an image of the slain man's face with the words: "Justice for Moïse. Black lives matter! Stop killing us!"

"Moïse was beaten for 15 minutes, on a busy beach, where people pass by all the time, and at no time did anyone call the police and try to separate them," said attorney Rodrigo Mondengo, of Brazil’s Bar Association in Rio. "We have no doubt that if it were a white person there being beaten, someone would go to that person's rescue." Kabagambe's assailants were caught on security camera footage that police have released to the media. It shows three men violently attacking the young man, and over the course of 13 minutes holding him down and beating him with a rod—and continuing to do so even after he loses consciousness. They are later seen attempting chest compressions, then rolling his body over.

Police are still investigating the circumstances surrounding Kabagambe's killing. Many felt no need to await official findings in a city where homicide often goes unpunished; they asserted Kabagambe's death was evidence of racism, xenophobia, and impunity. Human Rights Watch denounced the crime as "deplorable" this week. "COWARDICE. SAVAGERY. BARBARITY," blared the front page of local newspaper Extra's front page Wednesday. Kabagambe moved to Brazil in 2011 from his native Bunia, his cousin said. Local media reports said the family had fled fighting between the Hema and Lendu ethnic groups. At Kabagambe's funeral, his mother told a TV network: "My son grew up here, studied here. All his friends are Brazilians. I want justice."

(Read more Brazil stories.)

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