A retired colonel of the Republic of Congo army, who sought refuge for family members in Nebraska, has been reunited with them after being released by the Congolese government.
Marcel Pika immigrated to the United States in 1999 and became a citizen in 2005. He returned to Congo in 2007, but was arrested in 2016, likely due to his opposition to the ruling government.
Pika has been returned to this family in Lincoln.
“I am so happy for the Pika family,” Congressman Jeff Fortenberry said in a written statement released by his office. “They have been through so much. The love and dedication of this family is an inspiration to our community. I want to especially commend our United States Ambassador to the Republic of Congo, Todd Haskell, and his team in Brazzaville who worked tirelessly to secure Mr. Pika’s release. We are grateful to know the Pika family is now reunited in Lincoln.”
U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer also issued a statement.
“After being unjustly detained since March of 2016, Marcel Pika has safely returned to U.S. soil,” Fischer said in a written statement. “I would like to thank both the State Department and Congressman Fortenberry for working alongside my office to secure Mr. Pika’s release. When I met with the Pika family, I was touched by their incredible strength throughout this difficult time. I join all Nebraskans in welcoming Marcel and his wife, Josephine, home and wishing their family well as they reunite in the days ahead.”
According to United States officials, Pika had to endure solitary and long imprisonment allegedly due to his opposition to the current president of Congo, who has ruled the country for 33 or the last 38 years.
“We are very thankful for Governor Ricketts, Congressman Fortenberry, Senator Fischer, the International Monetary Fund, the State Department officials and the many other people who have played a vital role in the liberation of our father,” Percy Pika, a son of Marcel Pika, said in a written statement released by the Congressman and the Senator. “We would like to give a special thank you to the President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump, for his involvement and support. We also thank all the international and Nebraskan organizations that sustained us during this time. We continue to urge our government officials to fight on behalf of the many other political prisoners still being held captive without a voice and someone to speak on their behalf. We are grateful our parents are home, but it is important to remember that nearly 300 prisoners unjustly remain in the Brazzaville jail.”
Pika moved his family to Lincoln in 1999 after civil war broke out in Congo. Pika has eight children and 23 grandchildren.