AFRICA/DR CONGO - The massacres in eastern Congo are the result of links between politics, ethnicities and exploitation of resources

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - About fifty people were killed in the first week of May, in North Kivu (DRC): about forty in Beni area, in the north, presumably by militiamen of the Allied Democratic Forces ( ADF), and a dozen in the territory of Rutshuru, more towards the south, by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). "If it is relatively easy to count the dead, it is more difficult to understand what is happening and to determine its cause", says a note sent to Agenzia Fides by the Peace Network for Congo. "As for the massacres of Beni, the Congolese authorities usually attribute them to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a militia presented as an Islamic terrorist group of Ugandan origin".
If there is no doubt that the ADF is responsible for a number of massacres, a recent report of the Congo Studies Group (GEC) has challenged the official version.
"The ADF is not exactly what people think they are", said Jason Stearns, the main author of the report, stressing that "the ADF is not a foreign Islamist organization, but a deeply rooted militia in local society, which has ties with local political and economic people" and is well integrated in existing smuggling networks, in particular that of timber. The fact that some of the attackers speak Kinyarwanda - a language that is not generally spoken in the region of Beni - suggests the implication of other armed groups belonging to a large geographical area.
In addition, according to various testimonies, "the attackers often wear uniforms of the Congolese army". Often the military of the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) did not intervene, even when the massacres were perpetrated near their posts. In some cases, certain FARDC commanders ordered their men not to intervene.
Based on these elements, the conclusion of the report is that, "in addition to the commanders specifically belonging to the ADF, certain members of the FARDC, the former [rebels] of the Congolese Rally for Democracy - Kisangani/Liberation movement (RCD-K/ML) and members of local militias are also implicated in the attacks against the civilian population".
"Therefore we are in front of a State which is absent, corruption, inefficiency of the security services (army and police) and their possible involvement in an endless series of massacres of civilians, armed groups and opportunistic alliances, land conflicts and inter-ethnic strife, unfounded rumors and false news ... the situation is complex and everything contributes to maintaining confusion, insecurity and violence", says the Network for Peace in Congo.
"Only an international investigation can help identify the perpetrators, accomplices and instigators of the massacres, crimes against humanity and violations of human rights suffered by the Kivu populations in general and in particular Beni territory" concludes the Network for Peace in Congo which promoted a petition. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 19/05/2016)