Is Congo facing a death squad?

Is Congo facing a death squad?

The Goma massacre, perpetrated by the GR, recalls those of Songololo and Lubumbashi.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, we have short memories, explains this lawyer from the Matadi bar, in the province of Kongo central. “In fact, massacres, serial assassinations force us to have this capacity to forget,” he adds.

But the massacre, on August 30, of followers of the “Natural Judaic and Messianic Faith towards the Nations” sect in their church by men in Republican Guard uniforms revived memories of two previous killings by men wearing the same held, according to witnesses,

The previous events occurred in Lubumbashi in March 2023,” remembers an executive from an international agency. March 23 to be exact. That day, the police rushed into a meeting of young people from UNAFEC, one of the political groups of the former great Katanga. The origin of this intervention was a theft of mobile phones or attacks on a motorbike. The soldiers came down in numbers. “They knew the young people would be there. It was a political meeting day. The young people were not armed, the soldiers opened fire without warning,” explains a mother who actually lost one of her sons. “They opened fire on young people who were fleeing, the bodies found showed wounds in the back,” continues lawyer Hervé Diakiese, who tried to raise awareness of this massacre. After a long silence from the national authorities, two soldiers were prosecuted by military justice in Lubumbashi. The official report showed 8 deaths. “These numbers don’t correspond to anything,” explains an elected official from Lubumbashi. Unafec spoke of 21 deaths. Civil society cited the figure of 24 killed. “We will never know the real number of deaths,” continues the elected official who, with colleagues, had called on the provincial government following these facts. “Corpses were buried in haste, young people drowned. At least twelve threw themselves into the Naviundu River”, he adds. Here already, the Republican Guard had been accused of having committed these assassinations. As in Goma on August 30. “Like in Songololo in central Kongo”adds a resident of Kisantu.

DRC: Around twenty young people killed in indifference in Lubumbashi

Strong similarities

A sect deemed disturbing and potentially dangerous by those in power. Men from the Republican Guard who intervene in the early morning in a closed building where the followers of this sect are gathered. A disproportionate intervention which will leave at least 55 dead in the ranks of the Bundu Dia Kongo movement of Ne Mwanda Nsemi who wanted to expel from his province individuals who are not of his Kikongo ethnic group. admit that the similarities with the facts in Goma are astonishing, explains a particularly angry lawyer from Matadi. The young woman, who explains that the authorities tried for a time to negotiate with the leader of this BDK movement, then released a report from the NGO Human Rights Watch which documents this massacre. He quotes survivors who explain how they were awakened from their sleep by this intervention. How the soldiers smoked them to force them out of their building before opening fire.

“In Goma, we have reached the height of inhumanity”

The Minister of the Interior at the time, Gilbert Kakonde, claimed that the April 24 assault had killed 14 people and injured 43, including 8 police officers. However, Human Rights Watch has established that at least 33 BDK members were killed. “And this figure is underestimated,” continues the lawyer, who mentions at least 55 deaths following the intervention of the Republican Guard. The minister again tried to justify the action of the police by asserting that the BDK was preparing to “ lead a hunt” to people from other regions”…

The guys who intervened in Goma are not their first attempt,” continues one of the elected representatives of Haut-Katanga. “When we involve the Republican Guard, we know that it is not a troop responsible for maintaining order. She has no shield, no gas. She screams or she shoots. Those who use these men know it and these are not troops who depend on the military hierarchy”concludes a member of an international structure present in the DRC who mentions “a form of death squad. In Goma, the concern is the numerous videos which must prevent any form of impunity”.