According to a new UN report issued on July 6th, about 200 combatants from two rebel groups, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and the Mayi Mayi Sheka, “systematically attacked civilians” in 13 villages in Walikale territory in North Kivu province between 30 July and 2 August 2010.

The UN adds that the two groups “looted most of these villages, raped hundreds of civilians, mostly women, but also men and children, and abducted more than a hundred people who were subjected to forced labour.”

**Rape, A Weapon Of War To Enslave Civilians**

The UN urges the government to bring the perpetrators to justice, and says

“By using rape as a weapon of war, as a mean of terror and to ensure the enslavement of civilians,” the armed groups breached the Geneva conventions.

According to the report, co-authored by investigators from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), “Due to the fact that these attacks were well-planned in advance and carried out in a systematic, targeted manner, the exactions committed could constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes,” which are under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

**387 Rape Victims and Only One Person Arrested**

The team said that only one person has been arrested, despite the fact that some 150 of the more than 387 rape victims have been interviewed by local authorities.

“The security situation in the targeted villages prior to the launching of the attacks makes it clear that the weakness of the State authority in Walikale territory has been one of the causes of the proliferation of the armed groups which have monopolized control over the mining industry and are trafficking arms in the region, thus causing increasing insecurity for the civilian population,” the report said.

**Impunity For Perpetrators**

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said “the lack of progress in official investigations and in legal action against the perpetrators poses a severe obstacle to deterring future violations,” according to OHCHR.

“Since the attacks in Walikale there have been many other instances of rape and other types of sexual violence being systematically used as weapons of war and reprisal by armed groups,” Pillay said.

Roger Meece, the head of MONUSCO and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the DRC, said that “the anger and frustration of the people, including victims of horrific crimes, who continue to live in these areas in a situation of grave insecurity, must serve as a call to action.”

**No Wonder—It Is The World’s Largest Producer Of Cobalt And…**

This tragedy is taking place in this former European colony with precious natural resources.

A former Belgian colony, the DR Congo was known until 1997 as Zaire. It is the third largest country in Africa, with 2.34 million sq km and around 70 million inhabitants.

The DR Congo is the world’s largest producer of cobalt ore and a major producer of copper and industrial diamonds.

**Are Rapes An Indispensable Component For Computers And Mobile Phones?**

It has significant deposits of tantalum, which is used in the fabrication of electronic components in computers and mobile phones. Smuggling of coltan and cassiterite, the ores of tantalum and tin helped fuel the war in the Eastern Congo.

The massive exploitation of the this country’s natural resources by giant multinationals has been among the main causes of poverty, tribal conflicts and brutal human rights abuses.

In DR Congo, armed groups reportedly supported by multinationals, have been resorting to rape and sexual violence as a war tool to terrorise local communities and force them to flee far away from the exploitation sites. Over 300,000 cases of rape affecting women, young girls and boys, have been reported.


Copyright © 2011 Human Wrongs Watch

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