UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
Zaire: AI Statements
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Zaire: Amnesty Says Killings, Torture And Arbitrary Arrests Persist
Amnesty International, 1 Easton Street, London WC1X 8DJ, UK, Tel: 44-71 413-5500; Fax: 44-71 956-1157; Web: http://www.amnesty.org. For recent AI press releases, check http://www.oneworld.org/amnesty/ai_press.html. For more information on Amnesty International send an e-mail message for an automatic reply to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amnesty International - December 3, 1996
KINSHASA -- Torture and arrests are taking place in the capital and massacres are taking place in areas of intense fighting in Zaire in the growing climate of insecurity and lawlessness, Amnesty International's Deputy Secretary General Herve Berger said today at the end of a two-week investigation trip to the country.
"Despite the authorities" tight control on travel to the country's trouble spots, reports of killings, torture and arbitrary arrest cannot be silenced," Mr Berger said.
"Zairian authorities have created a climate of intimidation, where questions demanding the truth about the role of the authorities in the current crisis are repressed. People are afraid to talk about recent events such as the persecution of members of Tutsi and Hutu minorities and the role of the Zairian Armed forces in Eastern Zaire. Meanwhile the armed groups in Kivu are committing deliberate and arbitrary killings of Zairians and refugees."
The Amnesty International team has documented violent human rights abuses committed by both the Zairian armed forces and the armed group who control much of North and South Kivu in eastern Zaire in a report released today in Kinshasa, (Zaire:Violent persecution by State and armed groups).
"We have received reports about the slaughter of hundreds of Rwandese refugees and displaced Zairians by Tutsi-led armed groups last week," Mr. Berger said.
The organization has obtained reports of hundreds of deliberate and arbitrary killings of Zairian civilians and refugees by members of the Tutsi-led armed groups, now known as L"Alliance des forces democratiques pour la liberation du Congo-Zaire (AFDL) in Bukavu, Uvira and Goma as well as the forcible repatriation of refugees to Rwanda and Burundi.
According to Amnesty International's information, about 500 Rwandese refugees and displaced Zairians were massacred by AFDL members on or around 18 November. The massacre took place at Chimanga refugee camp, about 60 km south of Bukavu. The AFDL have also rounded up and forcibly expelled refugees from Burundi, handing them over to Burundi government troops at the border. Hundreds of the returned refugees have been slaughtered by Burundi government soldiers.
The AFDL has also attacked the refugee camp of Mugunga, near Goma, causing the mass exodus of refugees to Rwanda. Hundreds of bodies have been found and buried in Mugunga camp.
"Today amidst international indifference, hundreds of thousands of Zairian civilians and refugees from Rwanda and Burundi are fleeing violence in eastern Zaire; they are without food, water or medicines," Mr Berger said.
The delegation also fears that severe human rights violations, such as extrajudicial executions are occurring in Kisangani, north central Zaire, which has recently become an operational zone as a result of the conflict in eastern Zaire. The delegation requested authorisation to carry out research in Kisangani, and though the Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Interior assured Amnesty International access, the authorisation was never delivered, raising questions as to whether the authorities had reasons to fear the delegation's presence in Kisangani.
"Reports have been received by the organisation about killings, raping and pillage being carried out by the Forces Armees Zairoises ( FAZ), including violent attacks on families including beating and raping women and girls as young as 12 in Kisangani," Mr Berger said.
Amnesty International has continued to call on the Zairian authorities to end continued human rights violations committed by its own forces.
The organization has called both on the FAZ and on the AFDL to adhere to the principles of international humanitarian law through the respect of vulnerable persons (civilians and other persons hors de combat) and by giving access to the victims to humanitarian organizations such as the ICRC.
Investigations carried out by the delegation during the last two weeks reveal that the Zairian authorities are responsible for detaining dozens of political prisoners in detention centres throughout the capital. The prisoners are held without charge or trial and are denied access to visits by lawyers, doctors or family members. Some of them are believed to have "disappeared".
Amnesty International is further concerned that the
Zairian authorities continue to arrest persons exercising
their right to freedom of expression. Over the last
two weeks the delegation has interviewed dozens of
victims including parliamentarians, trade unionists,
lawyers, journalists and members of NGOs. They told
us of beatings, rapes and imprisonment for exercising
basic rights. The organization has identified 10 possible
prisoners of conscience currently being held in Kinshasa
alone. Three human rights activists, Floribert Chebeya
Bahizire, Harouna Mbongo and Bashi Nabukili, members
of a human rights group La voix des sans voix (VSV),
Voice of the Voiceless, were held incommunicado for
six days before being released.
News Service 235/96
AI INDEX: AFR/ 62/28/96
10 DECEMBER 1996
ZAIRE: HOPE IS NOT DEAD. DESPITE THREATS, HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS ARE STRUGGLING FOR HUMAN DIGNITY.
On 10 December, the international human rights day, the international community should support the daily and determined struggle of human rights defenders in Zaire, Amnesty International said today.
South-Kivu region's capital, Bukavu which has become since 1990 the home to a flourishing civil society movement, has been subjected to a clamp down on human rights activists by the Zairian authorities. Since September, many of them have been killed, 'disappeared', attacked or imprisoned either by members of the Zairian security forces or by members of the armed group the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire, (AFDL).
Many human rights groups are involved in educating the public about their civil and political rights which have been systematically violated by the political, security and judicial authorities for decades. However, despite threats and continuous harassment, they have not stopped their activities in documenting and denouncing abuses.
Amnesty International has received many alarming reports on the difficult conditions that the human rights defenders face in their effort to investigate and publicize cases of human rights abuses committed by both the Zairian authorities and armed groups. Since September 1996, several members of a church-based human rights and conflict resolution group Heritiers de la Justice, Heirs of Justice, working in South-Kivu have been threatened by the Zairian security forces for criticizing human rights violations in the region. Furthermore, members of the AFDL have reportedly carried out executions of actual and potential critics such as the Archbishop of Bukavu who was killed in October.
The body of Jean-Bosco Bahati, a member of Heirs of Justice, was found with the bodies of his wife and children towards the end of October. It is unclear if he was killed by the Zairian armed forces or by members of AFDL. Jean Marie Kati-Kati, the president of GRACE, a group of para-jurists based in Goma, was shot by armed groups. He lost his wife and children in the attack. Professor Wasso, an outspoken critic of human rights abuses, has also reportedly been killed. Amnesty International is investigating all these cases.
Dr. Jean-Paul Simbizi , a member of the human rights group, Justice et Liberation, Justice and Liberation, was ill-treated by students and detained by members of the Zairian security forces. His present whereabouts are still not known. Amnesty international is concerned that he may have 'disappeared'.
Emmanuel Lubala, a lawyer and president of Heritiers de la Justice has been forced into hiding in Kinshasa after fleeing in late October from eastern Zaire; members of the Service d'action et de renseignements militaires (SARM), Military action and Intelligence Service, have been searching for him and is being persecuted because of his human rights and professional activities on behalf of Tutsi. Amnesty International is concerned that he may be subjected to arbitrary arrest or ill-treatment.
Because they hid Tutsi in their houses when AFDL took Goma, many human rights defenders, like Bushoki Batabiha, were threatened. Amnesty International is extremely concerned about his fate. The organization believes that he is in hiding, but away from Goma.
In July and August, members of a non-governmental organization in Kamituga, Mwenga district, the Collectif d'action pour le developpement des droits de l'homme, (CADDHOM), Collective of Actions for Human Rights Development, including the General Coordinator of this organization, Didi Mwati Bulambo, were arrested following a series of articles criticizing corruption in the Procuracy at Kamituga. Before being released, some of them were severely beaten. Their office was also closed down by members of the armed forces.
"Human rights protection should be at the heart of all attempts to resolve the crisis in eastern Zaire. A strong international presence in the area is needed to protect people at risk, including human rights defenders," Amnesty International said. ENDS\
Message-Id: <199612111254.EAA28199@igc3.igc.apc.org> From: email@example.com Date: Wed, 11 Dec 1996 07:50:21 -0500 Subject: Zaire: AI Statements
Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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