M23 REBELS DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO EXECUTED 29 CIVILIANS SINCE MID-JUNE

M23 REBELS DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO EXECUTED 29 CIVILIANS SINCE MID-JUNE

Human Rights Watch said on Monday that 29 civilians have been summarily executed by the M23 rebel group in the dangerous east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo since mid-June.

The M23, also known as the March 23 Movement, came to limelight in 2012 when it briefly took control of the city of Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo before being expelled by a joint UN-Congolese offensive.

The organisation started fighting again in November of last year after being largely dormant for years. Since then, the rebels in eastern Congo have made major advances.

M23 fighters took control of the strategic border town of Bunagana last month.

Human Rights Watch said:

“Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that on 21 June, following fighting around the village of Ruvumu, M23 rebels summarily killed at least 17 civilians, including two teenagers, whom they accused of informing the Congolese army about their positions and hideouts.”

“Some were shot dead as they attempted to flee, while others were executed at close range,” said the rights monitor.

The other deaths occurred in subsequent attacks on the same village as well as in the hamlets of Ruseke and Kabindi, according to HRW, bringing the total death toll to 29.

HRW’s senior Congo researcher, Thomas Fessy, said:

“Since the M23 took control of several towns and villages in North Kivu in June, they’ve committed the same kind of horrific abuses against civilians that we’ve documented in the past.”

The neighbouring country of Rwanda has always disputed the DRC’s accusations that it is supporting the M23.

According to HRW, there are “heightened concerns” that M23 “is receiving Rwandan support for its operations in North Kivu province.”

The New York-based body said:

“Donor countries should suspend military assistance to governments found to be supporting the M23 and other abusive armed groups,”

HRW encouraged the UN, the African Union, and international donors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to “support a clear strategy to address impunity for serious abuses.”

It goes on to say that such a policy should involve “a vetting mechanism for security and intelligence services, an internationalised justice mechanism, a comprehensive reparations programme, and an effective demobilisation programme.”