Congo: Pygmy Vengeance

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August 30, 2014: Work has begun on a movie about a Congo peacekeeping operation in 1961. The movie focuses on an Irish unit (A Company, 35th Battalion) which experienced extensive combat. The UN’s current Intervention Brigade (IBDE) may be the first UN peacekeeping unit to be given an offensive mandate but it is far from the first peacekeeping unit to engage in heavy give and take combat.  “A Company” was involved in a major action in Jadotville (now Likasi, Katanga province) in September 1961.  On September 13, around 3,000 Katangan separatist militiamen attacked the Irish and besieged the town. The 154 Irish peacekeepers held out for six days. When they ran out of ammo and supplies, they were forced to surrender.  They were held as prisoners for a month, then repatriated. Irish peacekeepers were not always so fortunate. Baluba tribe warriors killed nine Irish peacekeepers in the Congo in November 1960 and the dead were found mutilated.

August 27, 2014:  the UN Mission for the Stabilization of peace in the DRC (MONUSCO) estimated the over 500,000 displaced people have collected in Congo’s Katanga province. The displaced people are living in terrible conditions and are suffering from disease and malnutrition. The displaced have exacerbated tribal tensions and are one of the reasons Bantus and Pygmies have been fighting in northern Katanga.

August 26, 2014: UN ordered MONUSCO peacekeepers to conduct a joint operation against the Rwandan Hutu rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia. The FDLR was founded by members of the Hutu regime which conducted the 1994 genocide.

August 20, 2014: The UN and Rwanda are arguing over the number of Rwandan refugees still in the Democratic Republic of Congo and what to do about them. Rwanda claims it has access to a secret MONUSCO report that says 153,000 Rwandans (overwhelmingly Hutu) are in the Congo and that 120,000 of these Rwandan Hutus are under the control of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia.

August 19, 2014: UN observers in Congo reported that Pygmy tribe militiamen attacked and burned several Bantu villages in the Luba area of Katanga province between August 10 and 12. A Pygmy tribe militia led by Mubone Mbuyu claimed that the attacks were reprisals for atrocities committed against Pygmies. The Pygmies claimed that militiamen in a Bakata-Katanga militia (a separatist movement in Katanga) attacked their village at Kasinge on August 7. Three men were murdered and the village was burned. In the past the Bakata-Katanga have attacked Pygmy villages and refugee centers. The Katangan separatists and a Pygmy militia fought in May 2014. Pygmies, because of their short stature, have long been persecuted and tend to live by themselves deep in the jungle. There they acquired a reputation of being experts in getting around the bush and as hunters. The wide availability of cheap firearms since the 1990s has evened the combat odds and the Pygmies are now able and inclined to shoot back when attacked. Pygmy’s short stature (150cm/under five feet for adult males) is believed to be an ancient genetic adaptation to life in the tropical rain forests of Central Africa. There are believed to be half a million Pygmies living in Congo, less than one percent of the Congo population.

August 18, 2014: UN officials warned that offensive action by the Congolese Army and UN peacekeepers against the Rwandan rebel FDLR is increasingly likely. One UN officials said that certain FDLR factions have refused to disarm. These factions deploy around 1,500 fighters. When the UN offered a limited amnesty earlier this year, 186 FDLR fighters and 430 dependents accepted the deal.

August 12, 2014: The UN estimated 527,000 people are internally displaced within the CAR. Around 100,000 of the displaced are in the capital, Bangui.

August 10, 2014: Mahamat Kamoun has become the Central African Republic’s prime minister. He is the first Muslim to hold the office. The government is attempting to create a multi-sectarian front in order to end the Muslim versus Christian violence.

August 9, 2014:  The Congolese Army (FARDC) and MONUSCO peacekeepers have launched the next phase of their Iron Shield offensive operation in Ituri province. The offensive is targeting the Ituri Patriotic Resistance Front militias (FRPI) and the Ugandan rebel Alliance of Democratic Forces (ADF-NALU) rebels in Ituri province. ADF-NALU is a predominantly Muslim rebel movement. On August 8 Congolese soldiers captured four FRPI militiamen and freed a captured Congolese soldier.

August 6, 2014: A human rights organization and observers in the UN monitoring office in Burundi have accused the ruling party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), of conducting a campaign of intimidation (ie, violent intimidation) against opposition parties and government critics. The CNDD-FDD’s youth wing, the Imbonerakure, are largely responsible for the violence.

August 5, 2014: Congolese security forces and police arrested a senior opposition political leader after he took part in a demonstration opposing an extension of presidential term limits. Jean-Bertrand Ewanga is the general secretary of the Union for the Congolese Nation (UNC) political party. He serves in parliament. He was arrested in Kinshasha. Ewanga contends that President Joseph Kabila intends to retain power in violation of the law.

August 4, 2014:  The government announced that Congolese Army units and UN peacekeepers have freed over 300 Congolese civilians who had been abducted by the Ugandan rebels belonging to the ADF-NALU.

August 2, 2014: UN observers in the CAR report that civilians continue to get killed in fighting between armed militias. At least 26 civilians were killed in the crossfire when an armed group attacked the village of Batangafo (Ouham prefecture area). 

August 1, 2014: Today marks the eighth anniversary of the signing of Angola’s Memorandum of Understanding for Peace and National Reconciliation. The Memorandum dealt with the separatist movement in Angola’s northern Cabinda Province. The government signed the Memorandum with the Cabinda Forum for Dialogue (FCD). The agreement gave the Exclave of Cabinda a special status within Angola. It also called for the demobilization of FCD rebel fighters. The agreement did not end the insurgency. Angola kept the province under military control. The Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) has continued to wage a very low-level rebellion.

 

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