Human rights advocacy NGO Human Rights Watch yesterday released a comprehensive report detailing abuses going on in the Eastern DRC, with a primary focus on the M23 rebel group. It lists a series of specific instances, and pulls witness testimonies for many of them. It also renews accusations that Rwanda supports the M23, an accusation Rwanda and the M23 have both repeatedly denied.
« Rwanda-backed M23 rebels in North Kivu are leaving behind a growing trail of war crimes against civilians » – Thomas Fessy, an HRW researcher.
It accuses the M23 of carrying out summary executions (and provides several notable examples of them), forcibly recruiting civilians into its ranks, and forcing civilians into manual labour for them. All three of these things amount to war crimes, as per the Geneva Convention.
Though the report focuses on the M23, it also details several instances of abuse from groups hostile to the M23, groups that the Congolese Military has aligned with. The FARDC, the DRC’s military, denies outright cooperation with these militias.
The M23 today issued a response to the HRW’s report, denying many of the claims and accusing the HRW of relying on words from witnesses without actually conducting investigations in the places alleged abuses took place, which they claim they have invited the HRW to do so. You can read their full statement below.
Interestingly enough, the report claims that Rwanda themselves could be complicit in any war crimes that the M23 commits. It is believed that Rwanda’s support goes beyond just material, and that Rwanda actually has troops deployed to support and even fight alongside M23 operations.
If you would like to read the entire report, it can be found with this link: