Since April 2012, instability in North and South Kivu in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has become increasingly violent. Genocide Watch warns that there have already been genocidal massacres and mass atrocities by warring ethnic groups, and there is serious risk of all-out genocide.
A Mai Mai militia, the Raia Mutomboki, is targeting anyone who speaks Kinyarwanda (Congolese or Rwandan, combatant or civilian), and has declared its intent to kill or expel all Kinyarwanda speaking people from the Congo. In response, a Hutu militia, the FDLR, is targeting anyone associated with the Raia Mutomboki. Since the beginning of 2012, these two groups have reportedly killed at least 700 people and have displaced over 300,000 Congolese.
Since the end of the Second Congo War in 2003, the Congolese army (FARDC) has relinquished its efforts to pacify the eastern Congo. It is currently in pursuit of the pro-Rwandan March 23 Movement (M23). Absence of the FARDC has left a power vacuum, now filled by Raia Mutomboki and the FDLR.
The DRC has been in constant conflict since 1994, the year of the Rwandan genocide, when Rwandan genocidaires fled into the DRC. In 1996 Laurent Kabila, backed by the Rwandan Army, invaded the Congo, killed many Hutu and overthrew President Mobutu. Rwandan and Ugandan troops stayed in the DRC, and many other African countries sent armies to exploit the vast mineral resources of DRC, driving civilians into the jungle, resulting in over four million civilian deaths and rapes of 200,000 women.
A peace treaty was eventually signed in 2009, and militias of the National Congress for the Defense of People (CNDP), were supposed to be integrated with the FARDC. However, in April 2012, CNDP soldiers who had not already left the FARDC mutinied and joined M23, led by Bosco Ntaganda, a leader in the CNDP. Ntaganda has a warrant for his arrest issued by the International Criminal Court for using child soldiers. M23 is based in the eastern Congo province of North Kivu and seeks an independent Tutsi-led state. It has been alleged that the Rwandan government supports M23, but Rwanda denies
involvement. M23 has committed crimes against humanity by targeting civilian populations, mutilations, and mass rape.
The Raia Mutomboki and the genocidaire-led FLDR are engaged in a bilateral genocidal conflict. Both groups massacre and mutilate entire villages, combatants and civilians. Both groups have enlarged recruitment beyond the Kivus. Local leaders fear Raia Mutomboki and say it gets support from M23. The Kivus are again descending into genocide, mass rape, and forced deportations.
There are currently genocidal massacres taking place in the North and South Kivu provinces of the DRC.
Eastern DRC is at Stage 7, genocide in part, on Genocide Watch’s eight stages of genocide.
– Genocide Watch advocates a large increase in efforts by MONUSCO to hunt down perpetrators of genocide in both the FLDR and Raia Mutomboki with robust funding and training from European and other African governments, culminating in a cease-fire monitored by MONUSCO.
– International relief organizations should establish safe refugee corridors and camps for IDPs.
– Genocide Watch demands that Bosco Ntaganda and all genocidists be arrested for war crimes and extradited to the ICC. The principle of subsidiarity–giving precedence to the national courts over the ICC–does not apply to Ntaganda, because the DRC referred his case to the ICC in 2004.
– Genocide Watch calls upon the Congolese government and neighboring governments to pass necessary legislation to build national institutions for justice and accountability, provide genuine local security, and pass and enforce laws that outlaw donor support of militias by foreign powers.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is plagued by enduring conflict in its eastern provinces. Formally the second Congolese war came to an end in 2002. However, in practice the conflict drags on and is the deadliest since the Second World War. Estimates of the dead range from three to five million persons. The victims are civilians, in particular women and girls, and ethnic groups such as the Banyamulenge, the Hutu Banyarwanda, the Hema and the Lendu. Many of the killers and rapists are former genocidists who escaped into the DRC from the Rwandan genocide.
Besides the high death rate among vulnerable civilian populations, especially children, and the number of internally displaced persons, there is the alarming trend of rape used as a weapon of war. Sexual violence is aimed at terrorizing and controlling the population. A recent study estimates that nearly two million women have been raped in the DRC, that is nearly one every minute. These atrocities, however, are not limited to women and girls. The fact that also men and boys are victims of rape is often not highlighted. Moreover, sexual violence is not limited to rape. It includes crimes such as abduction and sexual slavery, forced maternity and sexual mutilation. Sexual violence causes traumas, diseases, rejection and stigmatization. These consequences are aggravated by feelings of hopelessness, shame and abandonment because of the impunity of the perpetrators.
The rapes in the DRC constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, targeting a civilian population on a mass scale. Some of the acts of sexual violence can be qualified as genocidal acts, such as those committed by the FDLR and the Mai Mai towards the Tutsi population. Sexual violence is the most shocking human rights violation now occurring in the Eastern Congo.
The situation in this extensive country located in the heart of Africa is highly explosive. This is evidenced by the following factors;
– There were genocidal massacres in the DRC during the period from 1993 to 2003 as evidenced by a draft report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
– The elections of December 2011 were marked by widespread fraud, and proved that the DRC needs to build democratic institutions. Dozens of people died in pre- and post-election violence.
– The mineral wealth in the eastern provinces of the DRC is a major cause of the ongoing conflict. Numerous militias controlled by rapacious warlords, as well as Congolese government troops exploit these minerals, while engaging in human rights violations on a large scale, including forcing civilians to work in the mines.
– MONUSCO, the UN Mission in the DRC, one of the largest UN Peacekeeping Operations in the world, has had a beneficial effect in some towns and regions, but it remains hopelessly understaffed, undertrained, under resourced and underfinanced.
Currently genocidal massacres are taking place in the DRC.
The DRC is at Stage 7, genocide in part, on Genocide Watch’s stages of genocide.
– Genocide Watch welcomes the announcement by President Kabila that General Bosco Ntaganda will be arrested for war crimes. Genocide Watch demands that he be extradited to the ICC. The principle of subsidiarity –giving precedence to the national courts over the ICC– does not apply, as the DRC has referred the case to the ICC in 2004.
– Genocide Watch welcomes the first judgment of the ICC, convicting warlord Thomas Lubanga for the use of child soldiers. This case, however, also represents a missed opportunity to try crimes of sexual violence, because Lubanga was not charged with rape and other acts of sexual violence, such as sexual slavery, which there was ample evidence he committed.
– Genocide Watch calls upon the Congolese government and neighboring governments to pass the necessary legislation to build regional institutions for justice and accountability, with international assistance and financing, under Congolese, national and international law.
– Genocide Watch advocates a large increase in efforts to hunt down and stop perpetrators of sexual violence, carried out by regional forces with robust funding and training from European and American governments, the UN, and support from MONUSCO.
– Genocide Watch urges an exponential increase in funding for hospitals, especially to repair fistula and other maiming of women who have been raped.
– Genocide Watch urges investigation and arrest of perpetrators of sexual violence, other crimes against humanity, and genocide by a special unit of the International Criminal Court.
Genocide Watch is the Coordinator of Alliance Against Genocide. Founded in 1999, the Alliance is made up of over 50 organizations from around the world and was the first coalition of organizations focused completely on preventing genocide.