DRC: The violence still goes on

A recent Amnesty International Report on human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) draws attention to the continuing perpetration of violence against children and young people in North Kivu. At its height some years ago the on-going conflict in the DRC involved about 30, 000 children and young people, some as young as 10 years of age. Because of international agreements and new political arrangements it had been assumed that the recruitment of young people into armed groups, both government and non-government, had ceased. The present report clearly demonstrates that it has not.

Anyone who as seen the Thierry Michel 2006 documentary, Congo River, will be aware of the horrific forms that the violence perpetrated against women by the armed groups took during the course of the conflict. Rape was regarded as a legitimate weapon of war, one sanctioned moreover by the leaders of the armed groups on the grounds that troops fighting under the influence of group trance experiences could not be held responsible for their actions. This was the case, for example, with the mayi-mayi group. Again it is shocking to know that the violent and continuing rape of women continues in North Kivu.

One young boy, Seraphin, told Amnesty International that he was in the 6th year of secondary school in Kitchanga whne the CNDP came in mid-2007, four years after the signing of the peace agreementin 2003. Seraphin tells his story:

I was at school studyng when CNDP soldiers turned up and gathered all the 6th year boys together. They took 12 of us in total aged from 16, and drove us to the training camp at Bwiza. There they put us in a pit in the ground. Some of us tried to get away but we were beaten. I was stabbed in the stomach and tied up.

According to Amnesty International large numbers of children are recruited forcibly into the CNDP forces where they are brutalised and detained against their will. One adult soldier tells the following story:

It was a Thursday, around 4 pm. A heavy rain had just stopped. These boys had tried to escape but had got lost in the bush and had been recaptured. They were brought out of a pit in the ground and presented to the recruits during a training session, as a lesson to all of us not to try to escape. [The commander] gave a speech: You see these two youths. They wanted to flee. They didn’t want to help us free the country. They must undergo their punishment in front of you. If you do the same, you will suffer the same punishment. He then gave the orders to beat them.

See the full Amnesty Report on the CRIN website.

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