Note: This report from the United Nations Mission to DR Congo (MONUC) is noteworthy because it presents a small window into the daily life of Congolese citizens, who have no protection from lawlessness and atrocity, some of which is perpetrated by the individuals (FARDC) pledged to protect them.
Consider these atrocities and human rights violations and ask why the mainstream media does not think that even one of these people or stories deserves a few lines of copy.
Summary: A Radio Okapi journalist was killed in Bukavu, South Kivu Province; Five Hutu civilians were arbitrarily executed by soldiers of the 3rd Battalion of the Charlie Brigade in the villages of Nyabyashwa and Mikeno, North Kivu Province; The Katanga Military Court acquitted all defendants in the Kilwa massacre trial; The Auditeur Militaire Supérieur of Kinshasa has appealed against the acquittal of Me Marie-Thèrese Nlandu and co-defendants.1
Moreover, PNC officers were implicated in serious human rights violations, in particular, violations of the right to physical integrity; FARDC soldiers were responsible for violations of the right to life in several areas of the DRC; FDLR elements continued to abduct villagers in South Kivu Province; The Bunia Military Court delivered its verdict in the case of 17 FARDC members implicated in the 11-12 January 2007 mutiny; A mass prison escape took place in Mbandaka, Equateur Province.
1. On the night of 13 June 2007, a Radio Okapi journalist was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Bukavu, South Kivu Province. According to local sources, two men dressed in civilian clothes approached the journalist, who was on the side of the road talking to two of his friends, ( one of whom he had just visited), ordered them to sit down, which they refused to do, and then shot the victim several times. The other two men escaped unhurt and subsequently carried their friend to the hospital where he died shortly after.
On 14 June 2007, the Bukavu Military Tribunal held a public hearing at which two FARDC soldiers suspected of carrying out the killing appeared together with 10 civilians. During a subsequent hearing on 16 June, the court requested additional investigations, including the production of medical and ballistic reports. On 25 June, at the request of the Prosecution, the Tribunal agreed to adjourn until 11 July to allow more extensive investigations to take place.
2. On 19 June 2007, three Hutu civilians were allegedly killed in a local church in the village of Nyabyashwa – 2.5 km north of Luke, North Kivu Province- by soldiers of the 3rd Battalion of the Charlie Brigade. Two days later, in the village of Mikeno, soldiers of the same battalion allegedly killed two Hutus on the pretext that they were FDLR collaborators.
3. On 28 June 2007, the Military Court of Katanga delivered its verdict in the Kilwa massacre trial. The Court acquitted all defendants, including FARDC soldiers and officers and three foreign employees of the multinational company Anvil Mining, of charges of crime against humanity for rape, murder, looting, arson, arbitrary arrest and complicity in the commission of war crimes, concluding that no massacre had taken place and that the 73 civilians who were allegedly killed were casualties of the fighting.
A MONUC investigation conducted in October 2004 had documented cases of summary executions, rape, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and looting by FARDC forces led by Colonel Adémar, Commander of the 62nd Brigade at the time, and concluded that virtually no fighting had taken place on 15 October 2004 when FARDC regained control of Kilwa from the secessionist movement which had briefly occupied it the day before.
4. On 20 June 2007, fifty days after the verdict, the Auditeur Militaire Supérieur of Kinshasa filed an appeal against the acquittal by the Kinshasa Military Court of lawyer and former Presidential candidate, Marie-Thérèse Nlandu, and her nine co-defendants on charges of participating in an insurrectionary movement and illegal possession of weapons of war. Me Nlandu was arrested on 21 November by the Special Services of the PNC/Kin Mazière when she went to enquire about the whereabouts of six of her collaborators who had been arrested the day before.
5. On 31 May 2007, a meeting of journalists in Mbuji Mayi, Kasaï Oriental Province, was violently disrupted and subsequently dispersed by a group of policemen. According to an eyewitness testimony, members of the provincial branch of the national association of journalists L’Union Nationale de la Presse Congolaise-(UNPC), were holding an extraordinary meeting at a bar in the town of Mbuji Mayi, to decide on the replacement of the President of that association whom they accused of misappropriation of funds as well as connivance with the national intelligence agency (ANR) and other local authorities.
A group of policemen, allegedly sent by the Governor, disrupted the meeting and ordered the members to vacate the bar. The members refused because, according to them, they had duly informed the local authorities of the meeting. The police commander then ordered his men to forcefully remove the members. In the ensuing confusion, several journalists were beaten and manhandled by the police. One journalist was severely struck on the head and had to be admitted to a local hospital. Others lost mobile phones, cameras and Dictaphones.
6. On 18 June 2007, the Bunia Military Court delivered its verdict in the case of 17 FARDC soldiers who were tried for their participation in the 11-12 January 2007 mutiny in Bunia. The 17 defendants were given sentences ranging from 10 to 20 years in prison for looting, failure to observe military regulations (violation de consigne) and squandering of ammunitions (dissipation de munitions) and also expelled from the FARDC.
The Court also ordered them to pay, in conjunction with the State, a total of $98,000 in damages to the victims (ranging from $800 to $7,000 per victim) as well as the restitution of the looted items. At least five women were allegedly raped during the events but the Military Prosecutor considered that there was insufficient evidence to sustain the rape charges.