North Kivu: the Congolese government revises upwards the toll of the Kishishe massacres

North Kivu: the Congolese government revises upwards the toll of the Kishishe massacres

The toll of the massacre of Kishishe, a village located in the territory of Rutshuru, in North Kivu in the east of the DRC, has been revised upwards. After the discovery of the other bodies, it reported 272 dead, including 17 children. The Congolese government announced on Monday the launch of a judicial investigation and the intention to seize the ICC (International Criminal Court). The M23 speaks of “diversion to make people forget the other atrocities perpetrated in the region by loyalist forces and their allies”. INFO SOS Médias Burundi

This toll is still provisional, according to local sources because other people cannot be found since certain entities in the region are still under M23 control, Congolese authorities not being able to access them.

The figures put forward were communicated by the former governor of North Kivu, Julien Paluku, current Minister of Industry. It was during a weekly press briefing on Monday, December 5, 2022 in Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC.

The Minister of Communication and the Media, at the same time government spokesman, Patrick Muyaya, announced “the launch of an international judicial inquiry so that the perpetrators of this massacre answer for their acts before the courts”.

The Congolese government spokesman told the press that “the Minister of Justice is staying in The Hague, the Netherlands to meet the Attorney General of the International Criminal Court (ICC), for this cause”.

“The Minister of Justice is staying in the Netherlands to meet the ICC prosecutor. It has given an injunction to the public prosecutor for a case to be opened. So an investigation has already been launched”, he said.

And he added, “the Minister of Justice who is staying in The Hague, will meet the prosecutor because she will also ask at this level for the launch of an investigation so that all the light can be shed on this case”.

The local civil society and other sources say that more than 300 bodies of civilians killed have already been discovered in several places near Kishishe.

The M23 leader castigated these accusations, speaking of “diversion to make people forget the other atrocities perpetrated in the region by loyalist forces and their allies”. As soon as the massacres were announced last week, M23 representatives refuted the allegations, calling them “lies aimed at discrediting it with the population” and called for “an independent investigation”.

The March 23 movement is a former Tutsi rebellion which took up arms again at the end of 2021, accusing Congolese authorities of not having respected its commitments on the reintegration of its fighters. The Congolese authorities continue to accuse Rwanda of supporting the rebels. Last weekend, President Felix Tshisekedi directly accused his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame of being “the enemy of the DRC”. The Rwandan government has always denied these allegations.

Even if the M23 remains the most representative rebel movement, having recovered several areas in the province of North Kivu including Bunagana, the border town with Uganda since mid-June this year, it was not invited to the third round of Nairobi talks which ended on Monday. One of its spokespersons, Canesius Karemera Munyarugero recently told SOS Médias Burundi that “the recommendations resulting from these talks concern only those who have been invited to them”.

But other armed groups that participated in these meetings say they do not intend to lay down their arms either.

“We are not going to lay down our arms. We are not afraid of the regional force and we are not reassured. We have not had peace for more than twenty years while Monusco is there. The Congolese and Ugandan armies have joined forces…we will lay down our arms when all these foreign armed groups have been driven out of Congo”, said Aimable Nabulizi, spokesperson for Mai-Mai Bilozebishambake operating in South Kivu.

The Congolese government had recently warned all rebel groups that did not lay down their arms after the Nairobi talks that “they expose themselves to the wrath of the regional force”, which does not scare the rebels at all and who say they are ready “to fight for our survival and that of our communities”.

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