Human Rights Watch has revealed that the M23 rebel group has killed at least 29 civilians since mid-June this year in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The revelation is contained in a report the human rights organisation published on Monday, July 25.
According to the report, the M23 rebels, on June 21, 2022, killed at least 17 civilians, including two adolescents, whom they accused of having informed the DR Congo army, FARDC, of their positions and hideouts. The killings followed clashes around the village of Ruvumu.
Human Rights Watch cited the case of a mother of five who was hiding in a house. She reported hearing one M23 rebel shouting in Kinyarwanda: “It is you who has shown the soldiers where we were hiding”, followed by gunshots.
“When we got out, thinking calm had returned, I saw my father’s corpse on the ground. They shot him in the chest and tied his hands behind his back,” the organisation quoted the woman as saying.
“Some of the dead were killed as they tried to flee while others were executed at point blank range. Deliberate murders of civilians represent grave violations of international humanitarian law, notably article 3 of the 1949 Geneva convention and constitute war crimes,” the Human Rights Watch said in the report.
The report highlighted similarities with acts committed by the M23 movement in the past.
“Since the M23 took control of several towns and villages in North Kivu in June, it has committed the same type of horrible exactions against civilians which we had documented in the past,” said Thomas Fessy, principal researcher for the Democratic Republic of Congo at Human Rights Watch.
“The inability of the DR Congo government to hold M23 commanders responsible for crimes committed for years makes them as well as their recruits to perpetrate new abuses today.”
According to different statistics, the new situation has forced about 200,000 persons to flee their homes.
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