The father of an American whose body was found in a shallow grave in the Democratic Republic of Congo last week has urged the Trump administration not to cut funding for the work for which his peacemaker son gave his life.
Professor John Sharp said his son Michael was a “warm-hearted” man who would never have taken risks or been reckless. The 34-year-old from Indiana was found dead along with Zaida Catalan from Sweden and their Congolese interpreter Betu Tshintela. Three motorbike drivers who were with them remain missing.
Part of the UN group of experts on Congo, Sharp and Catalan were investigating violence and alleged human rights violations by rebel militias when they were abducted on 12 March.
John Sharp said his family had last spoken to Michael just a few weeks before he went missing, as he was about to fly back to DRC after a trip home, to tell him he had become an uncle to a baby boy.
“We spoke to him at the time his younger sister had just given birth and as he was going back to the Congo from New York,” he said.
Sharp said his son, a Mennonite who embraced the “core conviction of peacemaking” that underpins his faith, would have taken all the necessary precautions in planning the fact-finding mission in and around Kananga, the country’s third largest city.
“Michael was meticulous, he followed protocol, he would have felt very responsible for the people working with him so he would have been doubly careful. Nothing about it would have been reckless.”
Sharp had been working in the country for five years and had joined the UN’s panel of experts following a stint with the Mennonite Central Committee in eastern Congo.
In his peace-building role for the religious organisation he became a…
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