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Congo Civil War - Kasai - 2017

It is important to underline that mysticism is an integral part of the collective belief system in the Kasai region, and its influence on the dynamics of the crisis should not be underestimated. The Kamuina Nsapu militia and the inhabitants of the villages under attack are convinced that sorcery plays a major role in explaining their resistance against the well-equipped national army.

On 18 April 2017, 24 members of Kamuina Nsapu entered the village of Mayanda, assisted by three Lulua from the village, looking for individuals they suspected of practicing witchcraft. According to witnesses interviewed by OHCHR, two women were beheaded, accused of being witches. Before being killed, one of them reportedly had a machete inserted in her vagina after being heated over a fire. A third woman accused of witchcraft also reportedly had a hot machete inserted in her vagina and subsequently died of her injuries.

Victims also reported that members of local units of the Congolese army and police, as well as some traditional chiefs, have accompanied some Bana Mura attacks, and said some State agents are involved in arming and directing the militia.

The Roman Catholic Church on 19 June 2017 said more than 3,000 people have been killed in eight months of spiralling violence in Kasai. According to figures compiled by the church and listed in a report by the papal envoy, some 3,383 people had died in violence between security forces and a tribal militia. The UN's MONUSCO peacekeeping mission had previously spoken of "more than 400 dead" while about 1.3 million people are estimated to have fled their homes in the Kasai provinces. The papal envoy's note, which was dated June 19, said that 20 villages have been "completely destroyed", 10 of them by the DRC armed forces (FARDC), four by the tribal militias and six by unidentified forces.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on 20 June 2017 accused the authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo of arming a militia carrying out “horrible attacks” against civilians in the Kasai region. “I am dismayed by the creation and arming of a militia, Bana Mura, which would support the authorities in the struggle [against the Kamwina Nsapu rebellion] but which has carried out horrible attacks against civilians from the Luba and Lulua ethnic groups,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. A UN spokesman told AFP that it was unclear which authorities had lent support to the militia.

On 04 August 2017 a report by the UN Human Rights Office warned that violence in the Kasai provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo appeared to be taking on an increasing and disturbing ethnic dimension. The UN team was able to confirm that between 12 March and 19 June some 251 people were the victims of extrajudicial and targeted killings. These included 62 children, of which 30 were aged under eight. Interviewees indicated that local security forces and other officials actively fomented, fuelled, and occasionally led, attacks on the basis of ethnicity.

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Page last modified: 12-08-2017 17:24:32 ZULU