We’ve seen what happens to people in politics who get too close to exposing the truth. Get too close to unearthing someone’s dirty secret, and you’re likely to get a double tap to the back of the head. Unfortunately, that seems to be just what happened to an American United Nations investigator working in Congo, who was hot on the trail to expose human rights violations going on in that part of the world.
Michael Sharp of Kansas along with Swedish investigator Zaida Catalan and their three local drivers disappeared two weeks ago while working in the Democratic Republic of Congo. After months of investigating, the pair was close to to exposing the dirty deeds of the Congolese army and local militia group. After authorities’ long and arduous search efforts, the bodies of the two men were found buried in a shallow grave and their identities were later confirmed through dental records. Chillingly, Sharp’s mother had a inclination that this would happen after the disturbing thing her son revealed to her right before he went missing:
“He sat down with me and said, ‘Mom, you know I don’t have a death wish. But I want you to know also that I’m not afraid to die,’” his mother, Michel said. “But he said, ‘You know I’ll be careful.’”
The distraught parents said their son knew he was in danger, but that his work was worth the risk.
“We have heard from colleagues that he was respected by militia group leaders and militia members in ways we had no idea about,” his father, John, told station KAKE. “Somewhere, from his growing up, from family, from church, he caught a vision for peacemaking, conflict resolution without violence.”
Despite the danger, Sharp’s parents continually supported his mission to expose what was going on on the other side of the world:
“We believed from what we’d heard that he had a gift that was needed out there. So we were not going to discourage him,” Sharp’s mother said.
Jim Swan , former U.S. ambassador to the Congo Jim Swan reached out to the grieving family, speaking of how unique their son truly was.
“After all the predatory foreigners who have passed through the Congo over the past few centuries, Michael was someone who genuinely cared, who wanted to understand and learn, and who sought to reach those most difficult to access — not only physically, but psychologically. It’s really sad and — for what it’s worth, unfair — that he was the one taken.”
As of now, authorities believe that an “unidentified militia group” was responsible for the horrific kidnapping and murder, with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres asking that the Congolese authorities conduct a full investigation into the incident. U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley also offered her condolences in a public statement:
“Michael was working on the front lines of what we try to do at the United Nations every day: find problems and fix them,” U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement. “He selflessly put himself in harm’s way to try to make a difference in the lives of the Congolese people.”
How tragic! At least the family can have peace knowing that their son spent his life making a difference in the world through his humanitarian efforts. Hopefully investigators can find out who was responsible for the horrific crime and swiftly bring them to justice.
H/T [Western Journalism]