MEMORANDUM OF THE CIVIL SOCIETY TO THE UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL ON THE TRANSFER OF ITS DELEGATION TO BENI ON NOVEMBER 13, 2013
For Civil Society Coordination
It is with great respect and deep sadness that we dare to come before your High Authority to denounce the massacres of the civilian populations in the City and Territories of Beni and Lubero in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a member state of the United Nations.
Above all, we want to thank you for your efforts throughout the world and for the Security Council to ensure that peace and security prevail on the planet and that all people can then enjoy the fruits of sustainable development. We welcome the recent visit to Beni of the delegation of the Apostolic Nuncio to the Democratic Republic of Congo, S. E. Msgr. LUIS MARIANO MONTEMAYOR and Your Special Representative, Mr. Maman Sidikou.
This is because the population of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo in general and in particular those of the Beni and Lubero Territories and the City of Beni do not benefit from these essential guarantees of a human life worthy that we send you this memorandum, structured around the context, the steps already taken and the request of Your personal involvement.
Since 2 October 2014, the civilian populations of Beni City and Beni Territory have been subjected to massacres that amount to a real genocide, perpetrated essentially by bladed weapons (knives, axes, machetes, knives, ect.) and sometimes by firearm. Men, women and children are slaughtered as animals, pregnant women are disembowelled, houses are set on fire (more than 1800), including sanitary and school facilities. Today, more than 1,350 people have perished under these subhuman conditions under wild and unheard of violence. Before all these sad events, we must mention the kidnapping of more than 1400 people, including the three priests of the parish of Mbau on 19 October 2012 and Doctor Mukongoma and so many other peasants.
The cities of Beni and Butembo as well as the agglomerations of the Beni and Lubero territories are now being cut off from the rest of the world due to insecurity on the roads. The Butembo-Goma, Beni-Bunia and Kasindi-Beni sections, in particular the parts of the Virunga National Park, have become mangroves. Vehicles (more than 17) carrying people and goods are burned regularly.
These massacres and killings take place in a very complex subregional context. Indeed, since the Rwandan genocide in 1994, the International Community has failed to effectively manage the movements of populations and armed bands that have multiplied in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. To the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) and Rwandan refugees, more and more internally displaced persons have been added. Even today, it is Rwandan refugees recently expelled from Tanzania who inflate the already appalling number of homeless people, without knowing how they acquired Congolese nationality. Even supposing that they have fraudulently acquired this nationality, one may wonder what the purpose is. As if this were not enough to make the climate explosive, as we present this memorandum to you, it is suspected South Sudanese who arrive in the Province of North Kivu. In these successive waves of refugees arriving in the DRC, there are many former soldiers from Rwanda, Southern Sudan and perhaps soon from Uganda. Under the pretext that there are rebels in the Semuliki valley preparing to attack his country, the Ugandan president would justify sending his troops to the DRC. Since the same causes produce the same effects, it should not come as a surprise that in the future successive waves of refugees create new conflicts in the subregion.
In this dramatic humanitarian situation, the exploitation and illegal trade in natural resources and agricultural products contribute to the increase in crime: the trade in timber and cocoa, the exploitation of the « blood ores » in the valley of The Semuliki River, the appetite of the multinationals for oil are not for little in this culture of the death that settles in the territory of Beni. The whole constituting the knot of the economy of war, real stake of the perpetual crisis in the Great Lakes subregion.
On the other hand, there has been an acceleration of Islamization in the region, following a certain proselytizing of certain MONUSCO UN troops, whose role in the eyes of the population is ambiguous in the face of the killings in Beni Ville and Beni Territory. It is not excluded that certain elements are in connivance with the killers. This explains why more than once the population has been asked to demand the departure of MONUSCO.
Despite the massive presence of the Armed Forces of the DRC and MONUSCO, not to mention the Intervention Brigade with its considerable logistics, despite the duplication of command of Operation « Usalama », the situation went from bad to worse And the number of victims is increasing. What is more shocking is that many reports, including that of the UN experts and the Congo Study Group (GEC), have questioned elements of the DRC Armed Forces in these massacres, While the speech of Congolese officials merely repeats accusations of « alleged ADF-NALU ».
The immediate consequences of this genocide are disastrous: increasing insecurity, falling agricultural activity following the abandonment of fields by the peasants, food insecurity, asphyxiation of economic activity and trade following insecurity on roads, Mass displacement of civilians, school drop-out, destruction of health facilities, etc. ; In short, killers use famine against civilian populations, which is contrary to International Humanitarian Law.
To avoid being complicit in this situation by a « shameful silence » denounced by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, the Civil Society of the territories of Beni and Lubero and the Towns of Beni and Butembo addressed, on May 14, 2016 , An « Open Letter » to the Congolese Head of State to request the rehabilitation of the troops, many of whose elements come from the mixing or brewing effect of former rebel movements formerly involved in atrocities against the population.
The forces have organized three days of mourning, from 18 to 20 May 2016 to alert both national and international opinion on the extreme seriousness of the security situation of Beni and its surroundings. They have also announced the deforestation of the Virunga National Park, which has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, as this park has become a dumping ground for armed groups. Unfortunately the Security Council of the United Nations is illustrated by a passive look at this genocide.
In May 2015, the bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Kivu wrote to denounce the inability, if not the complicity of the Congolese leaders and ask for more commitment to eradicate these massacres that they had hesitated to call « real genocidal acts , War crimes and crimes against humanity. «
The European Parliament, in its resolution of 23 June 2016 (2016/2770 (RSP)), demanded the opening of a neutral international inquiry to shed light and establish responsibilities in the tragedy of Beni.
Despite all these commendable initiatives, the genocide of Beni continues and the population feels surrendered and abandoned to its executioners as in an Arena whose spectators are members of the Community both national and international. This creates the feeling of self-defense in some citizens whose chain is unknown and we fear possible damage that this situation may degenerate.
As the people die, the rulers lock themselves into a struggle for the preservation or conquest of power for personal or partisan interests. Distracted by the gains of power, our politicians have lost the sense of public interest.
To observe the behavior of our politicians, even during the recent national dialogue, they seem to be reveling in a logic of decay and cleverly prepared confrontation that, eventually, can become apocalyptic for the country and for the entire Greater- Lakes. The majority seems to rely on the increasingly enraged security forces (army, police and ANR) as the second and last term of the current Head of State approaches, Opposition seems to rely on pressure from the street. There is reason to fear that in such a situation each camp will sharpen its verb to reject on the other the responsibility for the blood that is likely to sink in this country already bruised by more than 6 million dead since 1996. It is urgent to release The Congolese people with such a mortifying logic and the macabre sub-regional context.
In view of all of the foregoing, we, the active forces and members of the civil society of the Cities of Butembo and Beni and the Territories of Beni and Lubero, would like to ask for your personal involvement in the return of peace and Security in the region of Beni and its surroundings.
We therefore ask:
Your commitment and to urge international justice, in particular the ICC, to urgently carry out an independent international investigation to identify and punish the intellectual and material perpetrators of these crimes;
Your support for the dialogue between the Rwandan government on the one hand and the FDLR and the Rwandan refugees in the region on the other.
A special international summit for Beni like Libya, Syria, Somalia, Nigeria, …
The change in the action strategy of the MONUSCO Intervention Brigade to an Artemis-type force adapted to the enemy’s operating mode;
Your commitment to sanctions against Rwanda and Uganda that continue to support the armed groups that are massacring the population in the region;
To weigh on the Congolese leaders and support in financial means so that the elections take place before 2018.
In thanking you for the attention you would like to bring to this correspondence, we ask you, Excellency the Secretary-General, to believe in the expression of our highest consideration.
Done at Beni, on 13 November 2016