World, Africa

1 year on DR Congo massacre, families wait justice: HRW

50 suspected assailants detained, however trials yet to take place, says victim relative

19.12.2019
1 year on DR Congo massacre, families wait justice: HRW file photo

ANKARA 

One year on the massacres of ethnic Banunu in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), authorities are still yet to hold accountable those responsible for the 2018 massacre, a global right watchdog said on Thursday.

A UN team from human rights office and a UN mission in DRC involved in an investigation into the massacre to find that at least 535 civilians were killed and more than 110 others wounded in four attacks in Dec. 16-17, 2018.

The mass killings were triggered by a dispute over the burial of the customary chief of the Banunu community in the region, according to UN investigators.

“The assailants also damaged, destroyed and pillaged more than 1,500 houses as well as health centers, schools, and polling places, according to witnesses, the UN and the Congolese government,” the the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report said.

“One year on, the families of more than 500 victims are desperate for justice,” Lewis Mudge, the Central Africa director of HRW, was quoted as saying in the report.

Mudge urged the government to abide by its responsibilities for the victims and their families and to probe and prosecute perpetrators of the attacks.

In February, the HRW investigated the massacres in Yumbi terroritory in northwestern DRC.

According to the investigation, hundreds of Batende villagers attacked Yumbi town, as well as Nkolo II and Bongende villages.

Some 16,000 people from Yumbi fled to the Republic of Congo over the attacks, the half of them returning back a year later, according to the report which also noted that 20,000 were displaced internally.

“Congo’s military justice officials began investigating the Yumbi killings shortly after the massacres and arrested scores of suspected assailants over the next few months,” the report said.

It added: “About 50 suspected assailants remain in pretrial detention, but no trials have taken place.”

“It’s a huge disappointment,” a Banunu resident of Bongende who lost 30 members of family was quoted as saying in the report.

“One year after these massacres, we still have not seen a trial and many of our attackers are moving freely around Yumbi territory,” the victim relative said.

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