The massacre of Beni shadowed by a Nobel Prize for Mukwege

In Beni, a town in eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sixteen people were killed in a rebel attack. Twelve of the victims are believed to be civilians. The attack left Eight people injured, of whom five were civilians. This is reported by local population as an attack by armed groups operating in the area. This barbaric act is qualified as a massacre and a sabotage. The attack took place on Saturday, 22nd September 2018.

There are different reports on the exact number of victims and their identities. Many witnesses approached by Agence France Press said the attackers were wearing regular army uniform. Although they may have similar equipment and uniform with the Congolese FARDC, many armed groups are sponsored by politicians and military leadership in Kinshasa. Officials in Kinshasa have not delivered a message in connection to the massacre of Beni. For most people in Beni, this shows that the government is fully aware of the attack since it works in its favor. A Congolese military official Mak Hazukai told AFP at least 18 people among which 14 civilians and four soldiers were declared dead after the attack. In a local hospital, nine people are under intense care for major injuries as a result of the attack.

AMAGEP has investigated the links between armed groups operating in the region and Congolese authorities. Beni is situated in a mineral zone. The territory and the city of Beni are facing ADF terrorism whose command structure is led by Ugandans nationals. As the M23 rebel group was supported by the Rwandan government, ADF-NALU are supported by Ugandan government. Congolese authorities are still silent on naming Uganda publicly as main architect of the rebellion.

Somehow, the situation is profiting the United Nations mission in Congo (MONUSCO) which operated in the region. Many reports are pointing MONUSCO contingents as main mineral traffickers. Many Congolese military chiefs who are in charge of operations against rebel groups in East are under UN or European Union’s sanctions. The Beni region is under siege from the Allied Democratic Forces, an Islamist rebel group blamed for hundreds of civilian deaths over the past four years. The surprise attack happened in the streets of Beni city. It was an extermination mission by rebels as a the doctor told AFP. Four of the dead were killed while travelling in a taxi. Eyewitnesses say the attack started around 8 p.m. local time (1700 GMT). Heavy and light caliber gunfire was heard for several hours until after midnight. It was not known whether the army counter-attacked. At our last investigation, the army did not oppose any resistance. Some soldiers who spoke to us in condition of anonymity said they received order to not respond from higher hierarchy. The main areas target by rebels were areas near the center of the trading settlement of several hundred thousand inhabitants. Beni city in North Kivu province was the site of a massacre in 2016 in which at least 64 people were killed. The attack was blamed on the Allied Democratic Forces.

However, a 2017 report by the Congo Research Group at New York University concluded that Congolese Army commanders were responsible for orchestrating massacres in Beni from 2014 to 2016. Beni is part of the great region of eastern Congo devastated by war since 1996. That first war led by the army of Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. As result of many conflicts in the region, Congolese population have been displaced. Human Rights Watch has reported rape, ethnic cleansing, child soldiers recruitment. Two weeks after the massacre, Dr Denis Mukwege who is reputed taking care of victims of rape in Kivu region has won the Nobel Prize.

The Congolese doctor Mukwege was named the joint winner of this year’s Nobel peace prize has called on the Congolese government to leave power, describing the polls scheduled for December as a parody of an election. Dr Denis Mukwege had won the prize for his treatment of 50,000 survivors of sexual violence. He also has been an outspoken critic of president Joseph Kabila and his government. He told the Guardian he held them responsible for not protecting women in the country. However, AMAGEP believes that there was little media covervage of atrocities committed in eastern Congo by both rebel groups and neighbors countries in particular the massacre of Beni.

Congo is under political turmoil because Kabila refused to leave power when his mandate ended nearly two years ago and his anointed successor’s strongest competitor has been forbidden to run. He is kin to organize elections under highly contested condition. Opposition parties and International Community have rejected the idea of voting machine. Many Congolese officials and military leaders are under sanctions.

Congolese want inclusive and fair elections that should exclude the voting machine. AMAGEP is monitoring closely the situation which may plunge the country into another civil war.

News Reporter

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