WALTER JAMES

Walter James (SOS Femme en Danger – SOSFED): Walter graduated in 2006 from the University of Minnesota. Following college, he worked on international development in Haiti and Senegal, and studied human rights and international development in Senegal, Costa Rica, and Morocco. Walter first visited Eastern Congo as a 2009 Peace Fellow for The Advocacy Project, where he documented the work of civil society organizations such as SOS Femmes en Danger, Arche d’Alliance, and Tunza Mazingira. The following year, he graduated from the University of Maryland School of Public Policy with a Master’s degree in Public Policy.



Mass Rape in Fizi

26 Jan

A fight breaks out in a bar in the dark of the night in the town of Fizi, deep in the territory that bears the same name. The argument is between a civilian and a soldier of the 43rd Sector, over a woman. In the resulting melee, the soldier shoots the civilian. This sets off a riot, and an angry crowd lynches the soldier in public.

News of the lynching reaches the troops of the 43rd Sector. To “avenge” their fallen comrade, a group of soldiers descended upon Fizi for a massive campaign of rape and destruction. So far, 50 cases have been confirmed, but as more people return the official number is expected to climb. The real number is probably much higher, since many women will not report that they have been violated.

The 43rd Sector is part of Amani Leo (“Peace Now”), a military operation charged with dealing once and for all with the marauding FDLR rebels who continue to ravage the Kivus. Their commander, Lt. Colonel Kibibi Mutware is a former CNDP rebel who was integrated into the FARDC as the result of a 2009 peace agreement. He commands a group of Kinyarwanda-speaking Banyamulenge troops, often resented because of the role of their ethnic group in the Rwandan invasion of Eastern Congo.
Lt. Col. Kibibi claims that the perpetrators of this mass rape were soldiers disobeying orders to stay on base. However, as the people of Fizi recounted the horror they survived, it became clear that more than a few witnessed Lt. Col. Kibibi urging his soldiers to attack the people of Fizi, directing them in committing unspeakable acts of violence. These accusations were serious enough to be included in a UN report on the Fizi mass rape. Also, it is not the first time that Lt. Col. Kibibi has been accused of human rights abuses.

It is a well-documented phenomenon when FARDC military commanders spur their troops to ravage the very citizens they are sworn to protect, and the latest incident in Fizi is quite possibly another instance of such a sickening perversion.

MONUSCO troops now patrol Fizi town in order to maintain order, and a Congolese military spokesman has stated that all who were responsible for the carnage have been arrested. The Congolese military supposedly has a “zero-tolerance” policy towards human rights abuses, and yet it begs the question why something this massive and atrocious occurred in the first place.

The general apathy of the Congolese government and the international community towards human rights abuses committed by the FARDC is bearing bitter fruit. Human rights training, reprimands, and the removal of some commanders who condone rape have not been extensive enough to cut away the cancer that plagues the Congolese military. Amani Leo is quickly becoming a joke at the expense of the people of Eastern Congo.

When does this end?

Posted By WALTER JAMES

Posted Jan 26th, 2011

3 Comments

  • Domestic Violence

    January 27, 2011

     

    Very nice information.

  • Domestic Violence

    January 27, 2011

     

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  • Domestic Violence

    January 27, 2011

     

    Can you provide more information on this? take care

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