Ethnic massacres in DRC: 15 dead, army and UN accused of passivity

January 11, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

By

Darell Maurice

Fifteen people were killed Thursday in an ethnic slaughter in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the national army and UN peacekeepers in the region are accused of passivity against armed groups.

The tragedy occurred at night in Miriki, North Kivu, about 110 km north of Goma, the capital of this province which has been torn for over twenty years by armed conflict powered by ethnic and land disputes.

The Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC), local authorities, local traditional chiefs, the Nande community and the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) accuse the Rwandan Hutu rebels, Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), to be responsible.

The balance of 14 dead given in the morning has risen to 15 in the day after the death of a wounded (six to nine), according to MONUSCO and an inhabitant of Miriki.

“All the victims are […] Nande,” according to Katsongo George, president of the NGO Society Civil Lubero.

According to local sources, the Nande chief of southern Lubero territory, where Miriki located, for months opposed the return of displaced Congolese Hutu, accusing them of wanting to “conquer the Nande space.”

Reached by telephone from Goma, the head of the village of Miriki, Gervain Paluku Murandia, said he lost his “two women and elder daughter” in the attack.

Mr Paluku Murandia is the Mwami (traditional leader) of the Mulinde group, which is the capital of Miriki, Nande and member of a royal family. Declaring fear for their safety, he said he had not been present in the village during the night. “The attackers killed with machetes. All this happened in the presence of FARDC and MONUSCO, which are in this village, and there was no intervention,” he denounced.

“Of the people killed with machetes, while MONUSCO and the FARDC are there, is really deplorable” said his side Mr. Katsongo.

Questioned by press, Charles Bambara, Director of Public Information for MONUSCO denied the presence of UN soldiers permanently in Miriki. “MONUSCO was not on site “at the time of the attack, he said, adding that the peacekeepers were sent to help” to reassure the population.”

According to a UN military source MONUSCO has “a base around Miriki and another at Luofu” about 15 km east of Miriki.

Lieutenant Mak Hazukay, spokesman of the Congolese army, stated the attackers “bypassed the FARDC position” to Miriki before killing “with knives.”

Souleymane Mokili, member of an association defending the rights of locals stated that he saw the corpses of people killed “with machetes and bullets.”

Lieutenant Hazukay announced, sending FARDC reinforcements to Miriki, “in the Nande community, one accuses the Congolese Hutu community of conniving with the FDLR, ” he said.

The army and MONUSCO (deployed since 1999 with 20,000 peacekeepers) are regularly accused of not properly protecting civilians.

In June 2014, the UN Mission had publicly apologized and acknowledged part responsibility after the massacre of 32 people from the same ethnic group Mutarule in South Kivu.

The killings had been committed at night. A local detachment from MONUSCO had been alerted by local residents but had not moved. Despite being close, the FARDC did not intervene. The founders and former combatants of the FDLR have been present in eastern DRC since 1994. Several of them are wanted by international justice for their alleged active role that year in the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda.

In DRC, the militia is accused of countless atrocities. The Congolese army in 2015 launched an operation against the FDLR and have stated that only 60 are still active today.

MONUSCO, which assessed the strength of some 1,500 militia fighters in early 2015, said they had no means to support this estimate due to lack of cooperation with the FARDC.

 

 

 

 

 

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Darell Maurice

Darell Maurice is a Journalist based in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital city Kinshasa and works for Canal7kintv. He also blogs here.

 

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