UN rights chief urges international probe of Congo killings

Pauline Gross
June 20, 2017

Zeid told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva he had reports the Bana Mura militia was backing the government in its fight against insurgents in the central Kasai region, and had focused attacks on two ethnic groups, the Luba and Lulua.

Since last September, the armed followers of tribal chief Kamwina Nsapu - who was killed a month earlier - have rebelled against the authority of the central government. In addition to the Kamwina Nsapu fighters, another militia has arisen to defend civilians against the attacks.

Prince Zeid's comments came on the same day that the Catholic church claimed more than 3,300 people have been killed in the central Kasai region - an opposition stronghold - since October.

On Tuesday, Zeid accused "various actors" in the conflict of "fuelling ethnic hatred, resulting in extremely grave, widespread and apparently planned attacks against the civilian population in the Kasais".

Congolese Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba rejected the call for an worldwide investigation, saying it would be unacceptable to launch such an investigation without including Congolese officials.

The UN Human Rights Council will decide this week whether to go ahead with an investigation into the violence in Kasai.

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The government soon will publish its own report on the crisis, Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende told The Associated Press. Zeid said the Congolese response was insufficient.

"One two-month-old baby seen by my team had been hit by two bullets four hours after birth; the mother was also wounded".

At times, Zeid said, the militia carrying out the killings had been directed by "state agents" from the Congolese military and police. "At least two pregnant women were sliced open and their fetuses mutilated".

And he added: "Refugees from multiple villages in the Kamonya territory indicated that the Bana Mura have in the past two months shot dead, hacked or burned to death, and mutilated, hundreds of villagers, as well as destroying entire villages".

Last February, Monusco accused the Kamwina Nsapu militia of "atrocities. including the recruiting and use of child soldiers", but also condemned "a disproportionate use of force" by the FARDC.

Other reports by GizPress

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