In response to allegations of corpse desecrations by FARDC during fighting last week, the U.N. announced that is reviewing its support of the Congo army.
Female M23 Officer greeting village women by Congo DRC News
This photo shows Major Fanette Rwagati, an M23 officer, dancing with local women in Kibumba city, courtesy of CONGO DRC NEWS.
Contrast the photo of Major Rwagati with this one of a FARDC soldier looting a home and stealing a puppy during looting in the village of Rusayo.
FARDC looting by Congo DRC News
Getty posted heinous photos of FARDC soldiers desecrating the body of an alleged M23 corpse, but Rene Abandi, the Head of Foreign Affairs and deputy head of the M23 delegation at peace talks in Kampala, denied that the widely circulated photos depicted an M23 casualty. The story behind the Getty photo is even more disturbing.
In a phone interview, Abandi said that the photo is actually one of a FARDC casualty who was Tutsi. While aware of desecrations and tortures of M23 combatants by members of FARDC, Abandi characterized the photos as possibly indicative of ethnic hatred.
Abandi was careful in his choice of words, but the implications are obvious and disturbing. For FARDC soldiers to not recognize one of their own, just because he was a Tutsi, shows that the level of ethnic hatred has not diminished since 800,000 Tutsis were massacred in the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
During several days of heavy fighting last week FARDC, supported by helicopter gunships, attacked M23 rebel positions near the provincial capitol of Goma. Depending on the news source, FARDC either caused a retreat of the M23 while inflicting heavy losses, or were routed across the border into Rwanda where they were asked by Rwandan officials to use the main border gate.
VOA NEWS also reported on last week's fighting, but Abandi refuted some of the claims made in the VOA report.
The scene described in the audio feed is a government army position at mid-afternoon on Wednesday. As soon as mortars land near FARDC positions, they start to retreat. The commander shouts at them, "You men get forward. What are you retreating for? Get in front of the tanks."
Is M23 Really Losing the War?
Is it a fact, as reported in international media, that the M23 has lost ground, is running out of ammunition and suffering heavy casualties?
Abandi says peace negotiations in Kampala are "stuck" because the leadership of Congo has not reported to the negotiations for a month, and Abandi says this explains the renewed fighting. "The Congo government does not want to negotiate; they want a military solution."
Despite reports by Reuters and Voice of America about losses suffered by M23, Abandi says that M23 retains control over the same amount of territory it had before the renewed fighting. Reports of loss of ground by M23 are a result of MONUSCO giving access to FARDC to advance on the M23 from behind their own lines.