Cablegate: For South Kivu Citizens, Human Rights Violations

DE RUEHKI #0896/01 2111525
P 301525Z JUL 07




E.O. 12958: N/A


D. 05 KINSHASA 2029

1. Summary. MONUC, human rights organizations, humanitarian
groups, and civil society leaders in and around Bukavu, South
Kivu province agree that the three most serious human rights
issues facing the area are violent crime by the Congolese
army, impunity for soldiers, and FDLR attacks on civilians.
End summary.

2. Embassy PolOff and DRL Human Rights Officer met with a
range of non-governmental and international organizations in
Bukavu, South Kivu June 27-29 including: MONUC Bukavu; the
provincial director of the High Media Authority, reporters
from Radio Okapi and Radio Mandaleo; a traditional chief from
Walungu Territory; the dean of the Catholic university; the
director of Panzi Hospital; and NGO representatives from
CEPOST (reconciliation), BVES (child soldiers), and human
rights groups Heritiers de la Justice, Ligue des Droits de la
Personne dans la Region des Grands Lacs, and Reseau de Droits
de l'Homme. We found complete agreement on the most serious
human rights issues in the area: armed and undisciplined
Congolese army (FARDC) soldiers, a failing justice system
that results in impunity for human rights violations, and
continued attacks by the Rwandan Hutu (FDLR) or Rasta militia
on civilian populations in northern South Kivu.

Too Many Guns, Not Enough Barracks

3. Insecurity in Bukavu and surrounding areas comes
predominantly from the uncontrolled circulation of weapons, a
coalition of seven human rights organizations told us June
28. These weapons are used by men in uniform to kill, rape,
kidnap, and pillage with near total impunity. According to a
MONUC-Bukavu Human Rights Officer, 90 percent of the weapons
in Bukavu are in the hands of the military, with most of the
rest held by civilians or demobilized soldiers. The
complicating factor, he said, is the complete absence of
military camps (ref A). Soldiers live in and around the
city, receive no salary, and have weapons.

4. Several journalists told us at a June 28 roundtable that
the flood of guns in Bukavu played a role in the murder of
Radio Okapi journalists Serge Maheshe (ref B). The murder
took place in a quarter of Bukavu where military harassment
was common. Residents of the area had sent a letter to the
provincial government only a week before Maheshe's death
listing dozens of local residents whose possessions had been
stolen or who had been physically threatened or injured by
FARDC soldiers. A Radio Okapi journalist told us he thought
Maheshe was a victim of generalized insecurity, not targeted
for being a journalist. He said a soldier had robbed another
journalist and his wife on a street near where Maheshe was
killed only weeks earlier; they had not resisted and were not

5. MONUC and South Kivu civil society and provincial
government representatives met June 27 to discuss a system
for registering and tracking arms. According to a MONUC
officer, they proposed establishment of a depot from which
soldiers would sign out and return arms and munitions for
daily duties. The depot would be controlled by military
police with MONUC's assistance and would permit the tracking
of guns used in crimes as well as the chance to count bullets
used by each soldier. The provincial government must now
solicit funds from the central government in Kinshasa.

--------------------------------------------- ----
Judicial Impunity: The Other Half of the Problem
--------------------------------------------- ----

6. Insecurity is made worse by judicial impunity. Human
rights activists told us June 29 that the law on the
independence of judges was the first step toward improving
the judicial system on the civilian side. On the military
side, they explained that too often the accused holds a
higher grade than the military judge, who is then deemed
incompetent to try a superior officer. With neither the
civilian nor military judicial systems functioning
effectively, the population resorts to "popular justice."
One day earlier, for example, one of the presumed killers of

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a South Kiva woman was burned alive by a crowd of vigilantes.

7. A MONUC Bukavu Child Protection Officer told us June 27
impunity affected NGOs' ability to separate child soldiers
and end their recruitment. She cited "Colonel 106" as a
"warlord" responsible for recruitment of child soldiers.
Colonel 106, according to her, is "protected politically,"
and even the 10th Military Region Commander has told her it
is "not the moment" to arrest him. Because of this, children
who escape from his ranks fear retribution.

8. The director of a child soldier NGO in Bukavu said
another notorious child soldier recruiter remains free in
North Kivu. Commander Jean-Pierre Biyoyo, who is the only
Congolese soldier ever convicted of recruiting children,
escaped from Bukavu's prison in June 2006, three months after
being incarcerated. The director claimed the escape was
organized by Biyoyo's military colleagues. He returned to
South Kivu in March as part of a FARDC delegation, and had
since been promoted to Lt. Colonel (ref C). The director
also said Biyoyo visited the judge who sentenced him to
prison while in Bukavu, but officials were afraid to arrest
him since he was in the company of six or seven FARDC
soldiers previously accused of war crimes. A MONUC Goma
Human Rights Officer confirmed to us June 29 that Biyoyo is
serving with the FARDC in North Kivu.

9. Several human rights activists told us the recent death
of Serge Maheshe has renewed interest in the delayed trial of
the killers of Pascal Kabungulu, a human rights activist
murdered in Bukavu in 2005. Two FARDC officers were arrested
for the murder and subsequently freed by the deputy regional
military commander. Former South Kivu Governor Didace
Kaningini and Lt. Colonel Jules Thierry, arrested for
obstruction and possible involvement in the murders, were
arrested December 11, 2005 and released the next day by
then-Governor Deogratias BuhambaHamba after protests in
Bukavu (ref D). The military court subsequently ruled it
could not judge officers and postponed the case until a
higher-ranking judge arrived. Two years later, neither the
accused murderers nor the accused accomplices have been
brought to trial.

Beyond the Congolese Army: FDLR Depredations

10. The Congolese army and a dysfunctional judiciary are the
main human rights problems in the province. However, for
many people in the north and west, the Rwandan FDLR militia
surpass both in level and breadth of violations. On the
night of May 26-27, FDLR/Rastas (armed men believed to be
Congolese and perhaps ex-FDLR, affiliated with the FDLR)
attacked three villages in Kanyola, Walungu territory,
killing 19 and injuring 24 (ref E). The victims, including
women and children, were killed in their beds with machetes,
axes, bayonets, and sticks. An additional 12 people were
abducted and taken into the nearby Mugaba forest. According
to MONUC, the assailants left letters addressed to the
Walungu Territorial Administrator saying the attacks were a
reprisal for joint MONUC-FARDC military operations conducted
against them. This is consistent with Rasta behavior since
the group was formed.

11. This massacre capped a series of attacks by the FDLR and
Rastas throughout the first four months of the year.
According to MONUC human rights officers, at least 75
villagers were abducted by FDLR from South Kivu villages from
January through April. More than ten were killed. MONUC
reported that FARDC soldiers were often stationed less than
200 meters from the villages attacked but did nothing. MONUC
has used mobile operating bases to try to protect targeted
villages, but dwellings are scattered in a several kilometer
radius and must be protected individually. Even local
militias have not been successful in deterring attacks.
Members risk death in notifying the village of the arrival of

12. Those abducted were most often women and girls, who were
then subjected to horrific sexual violence. MONUC reported
that on the night of February 19-20, a woman was raped in
Kafukiro in the presence of her husband. Another woman
abducted at the same time was gang-raped by 11 assailants. A
woman abducted from Miramade in April told MONUC that FDLR
militia held women and girls in the Kalonge forest and each
day selected several from the group and proceeded to rape

KINSHASA 00000896 003 OF 003

them repeatedly.

13. The doctor in charge of Panzi hospital, South Kivu's
only sexual violence clinic, told us June 28 that the sexual
violence problem in South Kivu did not exist prior to the
wars which started in 1996. He said the level of violence
used by the FDLR results in permanent disabilities, including
fistula, mutilated sexual organs, and internal damage. He
said FDLR do not just rape women, they terrorize entire
communities by making women into sex slaves or raping them in
public. The women are so traumatized that they refuse to
return home, and their families are so traumatized that they
flee as well. He said he has seen rape used to destroy the
social fabric of entire villages. More than 15,000 women
have been cared for at Panzi hospital since 2000 when it

14. PolOff and HROff met with a group of more than 200 of
these women at Panzi hospital, a few of whom told their
stories. One was tied up along the side of the road and
raped by ten men. Another saw her three children plus ten
other neighbors killed before she was raped and fled naked to
a nearby village. A third said the FDLR killed her two adult
sons, raped her, and pushed a piece of wood into her ear,
permanently wounding her. One woman told us, "the FDLR kill
our husbands, children, brothers; they rape us, burn our
homes, take all our things; help us to chase these people
from us."


15. Ironically, South Kivutians tell us the level of
violence has actually decreased in the past few years. The
majority of the human rights violations are not politically
motivated, but the work of uncontrolled militia and
undisciplined soldiers abetted by a dysfunctional judiciary.
Despite initial enthusiasm for the new.
democratically-elected government, people in Bukavu and
surrounding areas are growing weary of politicians unable to
reclaim control of the military or reestablish secure
Congolese borders. Their impatience and anger has
increasingly turned toward President Kabila and MONUC. End

© Scoop Media

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