Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Shocking Video: Congo probes video showing apparent massacre by soldiers



Democratic Republic of Congo must investigate credible reports of atrocities including summary executions by the armed forces, U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein said on February 21. The U.N. human rights office has documented the killings of more than 280 people since July 2016 in a flare-up in violence in Kasai Central province, where Congolese forces have been battling an uprising by the Kamuina Nsapu militia. "There are multiple, credible allegations of massive human rights violations in Kasai, Kasai Central, Kasai Oriental and Lomami provinces, amid a sharp deterioration in security situation there, including people being targeted by soldiers for their alleged affiliation with a local militia," Zeid said in a statement.

"It is time to stop a blunt military response that does nothing to tackle the root causes of the conflict between the government and local militias but instead targets civilians on the basis of their presumed links to the militias," he said. The U.N. statement followed the emergence of a video at the weekend that appeared to show Congolese troops shooting dead members of the militia in the province. The original video, which was shared widely on social media and seen by Reuters, shows men in Congolese army uniforms saying they are participating in an operation against the Kamwina Nsapu militia.It was not possible to confirm the video's authenticity independently or establish when it was recorded.

The U.N. said its peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, was not in a position to verify the origin or authenticity of the video, which showed unarmed victims being shot at point blank range as they lay bleeding on the ground. After initially promising an investigation, the government has dismissed the video as a "montage" created by political opponents based in Brussels. The video is filmed from slightly behind the roughly dozen men wearing Congolese military uniforms and shows them advancing on foot towards a group of men and women on a dirt road.

They open fire for 45 seconds then advance closer to inspect the more than 10 dead and wounded, including at least two women. "This one here isn't dead," one of men says in the western Congolese Lingala language, referring to a bloodied young man lying in the grass. Another uniformed man then shoots him in the head. Several of the men who have been shot have slingshots and wooden batons. None appears to have been carrying a gun.

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