Atrocities and Human Rights Violations in Northeastern Congo

Recently, the D.R.Congo has been in the news for the nth times after Human Rights Watch submited a troubling report entitled “Trail of Death: LRA Atrocities in Northeastern Congo.” This report exposes the atrocities and human rights violations that the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army), an Uganda rebel group, perpetrated on Congolese civilians between December 14 and 17, 2009 in Northeastern Congo.

It is reported that in this 4-day large massacre more than 321 civilians were killed and more than 250 others were abducted, including 80 children. HRW reveals that before killing them, the LRA combatants first tied them up, then hacked  them to death with machetes or crushed their skulls with axes or heavy wooden sticks. This attack is identified as “the largest single massacres in the LRA’s 23-year history.”

The most revolting information in this report, for us, is related to the LRA’s treatment of children. This rebel group has no consideration for children’s rights. They principally target children to abduct them and use them as slaves. Children are “tied up with ropes or metal wires at their waist, often in human chains of five to 15 people.” The LRA does not certainly belong to this 21th world that cherishes freedom and social justice.

We would like to make an appeal to the different governments that have the power to end this “stupidity” that has been going on for many years. First, let us urge the Obama administration to take advantage of the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act that the US Senate unanimously passed on March 11, 2010; and to make a push for this Act to be enacted into law. The US House of Representatives, we hope, would understand the urgency of this issue and would speeed up the process. While this bill is being left pending, chances are that the LRA army may resume their exactions on civilians at any time.

Second, putting an emphasis on the fact that the LRA is still a threat to this region of the Congo, the HRW report should wake the Congo and Uganda governments up and put them before their responsabilities. We believe it is first up to the Congo government to protect their people. The absence of Congo military forces in this region allows the LRA to operate freely and with impunity. Thus, the Congo government should make sure that their soldiers are positionned in all strategic villages. This is a region where there is no road, no cellphone communication, no internet, making impossible any call for an intervention in case of an attack. If there is no congolese soldier in the village, there won’t be any intervention taking place.

Efforts should be made by the International community to arrest the LRA leaders. Their names are known and I believe their locations can also be known. Once and for all, we should try to neutralize and destabilize this rebel group whose practices are insults that challenge the Global community of human rights defenders….

For more email me at danielkahozi@yahoo.com

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