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Highlights from leaked UN draft report on Congo atrocities: 1993-1996

Guest blogger Jason Stearns offers highlights of the period 1993-1996 from a leaked UN draft report that chronicles mass atrocities in the Congo between 1993 and 2003.

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3. The arrival of 700,000 Hutu refugees from Rwanda further shattered the stability of the province, dividing the Congolese Hutu and Tutsi communities. Hutu joined the defeated ex-FAR, while Tutsi took part in the Tutsi-led RPF.

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157. Between July 1994 and March 1995, over 200,000 Tutsis left the province of North Kivu and returned to Rwanda. Some left of their own volition to benefit from the employment opportunities offered in the army and administration of the new Rwandan regime. Others fled the growing hostility of the Hutu Banyarwanda and ex-FAR/Interahamwe attacks, as well as the resumption of the ethnic war between the Hutu Banyarwanda and the Hunde and Nyanga Mayi-Mayi.

The stance of the Mobutu's army became increasingly ambiguous. They sometimes protected Tutsi, but also victimized them, forcibly evicting many Tutsi living in Goma in early 1996. The army also launched two operations - "Kimia" and "Mbata" - in 1996 to disarm the Hunde, Nande and Nyanga militia that had been formed, but in other cases they collaborated with these militia.

164. On 29 May 1996, FAZ troops massacred over 120 civilians in the village of Kibirizi in the Bwito chiefdom, in the territory of Rutshuru. The FAZ fired at the village using heavy weapons and set fire to several houses.

In June 1996, FAZ troops massacred over one hundred people in the village of Kanyabayonga in the Lubero territory. Most of the victims were killed when the village was shelled using heavy weapons and hundreds of homes were torched. Kanyabayonga was considered a Ngilima stronghold and most of the victims were Nande armed units or civilians suspected of supporting the group.

The team was unable to confirm how many people died in total between 1993 and the beginning of the "real" war in 1996, but they cite an estimate of 70,000 to 100,000 deaths since 1993. In addition, they say 80 percent of livestock in the province was pillaged.

4. At the same time, many other areas of the country were experiencing turmoil because of the transition to democracy. This was especially true for Kinshasa, where security forces rounded up a lot of people, accused them of supporting the opposition, and tortured or killed them. The team has documented four specific incidents in the capital, including:

171. On 4 May 1994, elements of the security forces executed 15 people at the Tshatshi camp. The victims had been kidnapped by the security forces (notably the BSRS) two days previously at a protest march staged by the opposition. A further five individuals who had been kidnapped and transferred to the CIRCO military garrison were released after protests from human rights organisations.

On 27 May 1994, Civil Guard elements executed six UDPS activists in the Maluku district in Nsele commune. Their bodies were loaded on to a boat and dumped in the middle of the river. The activists had been kidnapped that day by the BSRS and taken to the Civil Guard training centre at Mangengenge. On 27 May, the opposition had called a day of ville morte in Kinshasa to demand the return of √Čtienne Tshisekedi to the Premiership. Between 1993 and 1994, the security forces killed a number of UDPS activists, including minors, during their crackdown on the movement.

--- Jason Stearns, an expert on politics and security in Central Africa, blogs at Congo Siasa.

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