Violence and Massacres in Democratic Republic of Congo

Protests in the Democratic Republic of Congo Protests in the Democratic Republic of Congo Human Rights Watch

13 April 2020

Because of the ineffectiveness of the army, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo is facing protest

The rebels from Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), in the Democratic Republic of Congo, have been cleared from their last stronghold in the forest, in Beni. The Congolese army has launched a twenty-two thousand men-strong operation to capture rebel bases. They claim to have obtained important successes in pushing the rebels out of their strongholds, killing dozens, including some of their leaders, and arresting many. 

However, this had led in turn to violent retaliatory attacks by rebels that killed dozens of people and abducted hundreds and the army seems unable to stop the violence. According to human rights campaigners like Kizito Bin Hangi, security forces are disorganised and have a flawed strategy. “Some of the attacks happen very close to military bases and positions. The fighters seem to have time to attack, steal and make their way back to the forest where these thousands of government troops are”, Hangi said. Al Jazeera put this question to Chaligonza Nduru - the general in charge of the Congolese troops, who said that “in war, unfortunately, there are losses and deaths. We are defeating the enemy. They do not have the capacity anymore to fight the military so they sneak into villages like cowards and kill defenceless villagers to make them lose confidence in our ability to protect them.  We’re dealing with terrorists and we will wipe them out as we have other rebel groups in DRC”.

However, there are some mysteries and controversies regarding the role of ADF in these acts of violence: many suspects that the Ugandan organization, which was forced to move to the forests of DRC in the 1990s, is at least not the only actor behind the attacks, but that there could be other groups operating, alongside the Congolese army itself. Some behaviours, for example, are very unusual with the traditional ADF’s way of doing, like for what concerns the abductions, which diminished drastically in the last months. Some think that, at best, those groups are refurbished by the army, which provides them food, ammunition and weapons, and that the ADF may indeed have connections with those groups and the army itself. This way, such an option would play down the idea of an extended responsibility of ADF, funded by a financial facilitator with a link to the Islamic State. 

Nevertheless, rebel groups have been responsible for ferocious massacres, with severed heads and limbs, mutilations and killings of women and children for the most part. This has led to mass protests against the government and the UN mission active in the country, MONUSCO, which led to the burning down of some of their buildings. MONUSCO, which had been accused of inaction, had in turn promised to bolster its presence in the State and reinforce patrols in the villages. 

 

To know more, please read:

 https://www.aljazeera.com/blogs/africa/2020/02/adf-rebels-cleared-stronghold-beni-dr-congo-army-200228101158114.html

https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/news-feature/2020/1/29/congo-beni-adf-allied-democratic-forces-ebola-un

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/12/19/dr-congo-no-justice-2018-yumbi-massacres

 

Author: Pasquale Candela; Editor: Shrabya Ghimire

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