[It is a good time to recall the slaughter committed by UN troops against civilians and the massive bombardment of civilian facilities in the Belgian Congo in 1960. It was an event that would have been kept from the world except for a new radical organization called the “John Birch Society,” which published the testimony of civilian doctors who treated the victims, called “46 Angry Men.”]
|December 15, 2009
JOHANNESBURG — A U.N.-backed Congolese military operation to oust rebels from eastern Congo has caused more civilian casualties than damage to rebels, with more than 1,400 people deliberately killed over a nine-month period, human rights groups said Monday.
Human Rights Watch said it had documented “vicious and widespread” attacks against civilians by soldiers and rebels between January and September. Soldiers being fed and supplied with ammunition by the United Nations have killed civilians, gang-raped girls and cut the heads off some young men they accuse of being rebels or supporting the enemy, groups said.
“For every rebel combatant disarmed, one civilian has been killed, seven women and girls have been raped, six houses have been burned and destroyed and 900 people have been forced to flee their homes,” British-based organization Oxfam said.
Human Rights Watch said it documented the killings of 732 civilians between January and September by the Congolese army and troops from neighboring Rwanda fighting alongside it. In the same period, it counted 701 civilians killed by the rebels they are fighting.
“Some victims were tied together before their throats were, according to one witness, ‘slit like chickens.’ The majority of the victims were women, children, and the elderly,” the group said.
More than 7,500 cases of sexual violence against women and girls were registered at health centers during that nine-month period, nearly double that of 2008 and likely representing only a fraction of the total.
Human Rights Watch said that the 19,000 peacekeepers in Congo – the biggest U.N. force in the world – must “immediately cease all support to the current military operation” until it can ensure there are no violations of international humanitarian law. The group also called for the U.N. to find “a new approach to protect civilians.”
“The U.N. peacekeepers are being put in an appalling situation where they are supporting an army that is attacking its own population,” it said.