My source made it clear to me that MONUSCO is stretched to the breaking point and in many instances unable to guarantee the safety of civilians. There is no ethnic group or rebel organization that does not have blood on its hands. It is well past the time to sort out ethnic tensions. The violence must stop.
Warning: Photos in this article are stomach-wrenchingly graphic.
Photos in this article are stomach-wrenchingly graphic.
This is what a massacre looks like...
The subject line on the email was "Rape, Killing, and Mutilation Report." It came in this morning as I was brewing coffee, and I was certainly not prepared for the photos it contained. The sender was a long-time internal source at United Nations Stabilization Mission in Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), but I had not heard from the source in over a year. Maybe two.
"Would you publish it and share it with friends, NGO of Human Rights and other organizations for necessary actions to end such violence flaring the country especially Masisi-Rutshuru in North-Kivu Province?"
My source had never approached me in this manner; essentially pleading for help to publicize a massacre.
Attached in subsequent emails were graphic photos that make everything I have witnessed in Central Africa over the years seem tame by comparison. I thought I had seen it all, but I was wrong. The heinous photos are included below, with some hesitation.
Other attachments included a detailed internal summary of militia groups operating in eastern Congo that included leaders, troop strengths, locations, weapons stockpile estimates, and likely coalitions. Finally, the source provided the CLA report on the massacre (s) that happened at the hands of the 1000-1500 strong Nyatura rebel group. The Nyatura are Congolese Hutus and formed the rebel organization in 2010 in Lumbishi due to a land dispute with Tutsis. The victims in this massacre were Hunde, traditional tribal chieftains in Masisi.
Community Liaison Assistants (CLAs) generate reports that provide analysis in a way that ensures the safety of MONUSCO staff and of the civilian informants providing them with information on atrocities. "However, in the course of that report you will find that the victims were IDP's (internally displaced persons) that had gone to fetch for food into their abandoned farms then accidentally met the assailants without any means of alerting MONUSCO. Cell phones were not working. Thanks for understanding," the source wrote.
The written report on the atrocities was especially obscene.
"The security situation in Masisi is worse due to the killings which were made by Nyatura mixed with FDLR (remnants of the Rwandan genocidaires) in the areas of Buloto village (Banyungu groupment) nearly 15 km West of Masisi," it begins.
On November 2, three persons were killed and two shot and hospitalized.
On November 4, two villagers were kidnapped and beaten until they paid a $20 ransom.
On the same day, six members of the Hunde tribe were raped and killed at Buloto at 3:00 PM.
The next day, Sunday, at 7:10 am, young people brought the dead bodies, which included three adult women, two girls (9 and 15) and one two-year-old female baby to the Masisi administration office. The bodies were mutilated, and sticks were forced into the vaginas. The victims were IDPS at Masisi center but natives of Boloto village. Because of a lack of humanitarian assistance in the region, they decided to go and find food in the fields where they were raped, tortured, desecrated and murdered.
Desecrated Two year Old
Sticks in Vaginas
Details of the massacre were confirmed by an online posting by the church organization Agenzia Fides.
4 Hunde women and two children were killed with machetes by members of the Hutu militia Nyatura. The women were surprised by their murderers while they were collecting bananas in a field and were raped before being killed.
Masisi territory in the North Kivu Province has been plagued by conflicts related to land issues and ethnic identity. Currently, the Hunde have no parliamentary representation.
My source made it clear to me that MONUSCO is stretched to the breaking point and in many instances unable to guarantee the safety of civilians. There is no ethnic group or rebel organization that does not have blood on its hands. It is well past the time to sort out ethnic tensions. The violence must stop. Civilians are expendable collateral in a region of Congo that has been abandoned by its government. You can make a case for "good" rebels and "bad" rebels, but until the rule of law is established, photos of mutilated babies and disemboweled women will continue to flood inboxes of anyone who is willing to listen.
The continuing media focus on the M23 rebels, now the Congolese Revolutionary Army, is a carefully crafted distraction organized by anti-Rwandan and anti-Ugandan interests. The end result is one more mutilated baby.
And what about the United Nations report from the discredited Group of Experts (GoE) that leveled accusation on top of accusation on Rwanda and Uganda, threatening regional stability? In an article in the Daily Monitor, Ugandan Defense Minister Dr. Crispus Kiyonga discussed the allegations and whether Uganda has the moral authority to chair the International Conference for Great Lakes Region. Speaking about the ethnically biased GoE, Kiyonga said this:
For example, they never reached out to the Chief of Military Intelligence. They never reached the Chief of Defense Forces. They never reached the minister of defense, the seriousness of the accusations notwithstanding. So, we protest that wrong procedure. Secondly, why leak the report? They are like children.
What is clear is that in Masisi and elsewhere in eastern Congo heinous crimes against humanity are still the norm. Congo is a failed state, unable to protect her people. International media is indifferent to the day-to-day suffering; parachuting into war zones only when the tanks roll, new rebel groups form, and the RPG's start flying. Sticks in vaginas and babies with no faces hold no immediate interest. It's just a run-of-the-mill massacre.
Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative environmental and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota, New Orleans and South Florida. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill Magazine, The Ugandan Independent, Rwanda's New Times, India's TerraGreen, COA News, ZNET, OpEdNews, Glide Magazine, The Journal of the International Primate Protection League, Africa Front, The United Nations Publication, A Civil Society Observer, Bitch Magazine, and Zimbabwe's The Daily Mirror. Her fiction expos- of insurance fraud in the horse industry, Horse Sense, was re-released in early 2006. Gorilla Dreams: The Legacy of Dian Fossey was also released in 2006. Nienaber spent much of 2007 doing research in South Africa, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. She was in DRC as a MONUC-accredited journalist, and has been living Southern Louisiana investigating hurricane reconstruction and getting to know the people there since late 2007. Nienaber is currently developing a documentary on the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone, and continuing "to explore the magic of the Deep South." She is a member of the Memphis Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.