Congo: Raping Everything In Sight

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Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

August 5, 2009: Allegations of "mineral laundering" (also called "mineral pillaging") are cropping up once again. Various rebel militias operating in the eastern Congo are receiving money from organizations seeking access to gold mines and deposits of coltan (which is used in producing many electronic devices). Third-party "mineral traders" appear with cash and payoff militia leaders. The minerals are then shipped out of the Congo. Shipping requires more bribes. Some government army units have received payments from these illegal mineral traders, but then some of the Congolese Army units in the eastern Congo were once militia forces.

August 1, 2009: The FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, a Rwandan Hutu militia) has 6,000 militia members in the Congo and is attempting to retake some of the villages they controlled in January and February 2009.

July 31, 2009: Nearly 60,000 people have been displaced by fighting in South Kivu province since late June. The refugees fled fighting between FDLR militiamen and government forces assisted by UN forces. (The operation is a continuation of Operation Kimia II.)

July 23, 2009: A key Congolese Army base in the eastern Congo (in the town of Mandje,  North Kivu province) was attacked by FDLR militiamen, which left 24 dead, 16 of them civilians.

July 17, 2009: There is increasing pressure for the government to indict and prosecute senior military officers who have commanded units that engaged in rape or permitted the rape of Congolese women and girls (and, increasingly of late, men). Sex crimes have been an ugly (and all too frequent) element in the crime and chaos of the eastern Congo.

July 13, 2009: FDLR militiamen struck a UN peacekeeping position near the town of Mwenga, in South Kivu. One Pakistani soldier was injured in the attack. UN soldiers drove off the attackers with machine gun-fire and "heavy weapons" (apparently mortars). The FDLR assault appears to have been coordinated and quite large. The militiamen attacked with small arms, machine guns, and rocket-propelled grenades.

 

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