The M23 rebel group has rejected a report from Amnesty International detailing war crimes committed by the group in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The report, released on Tuesday, details a number of atrocities committed by the M23 during their time in control of the city of Goma. These include summary executions, rape, and forced recruitment of child soldiers.
The M23 has issued a statement calling the Amnesty International report “biased” and has accused the organisation of relying on testimonies from people who do not have first-hand knowledge of the situation on the ground. The rebel group has claimed that the report does not reflect the reality of the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The M23 rebel group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been widely condemned by the international community for their actions in the DRC, despite their denial of the findings of a UN report. The UN Security Council has called for an end to their violence and human rights abuses, and has threatened sanctions if they do not comply. M23 has been accused of killing civilians, raping women and girls, and recruiting child soldiers. They have also been accused of looting and destroying property, and displacing thousands of people. M23’s actions have caused a major humanitarian crisis in the DRC, and their continued presence in the country is a major concern for the UN and the international community.
The M23 has rejected the accusations contained in an Amnesty International press release accusing them of massacres and rapes in the Democratic Republic of congo (DRC).
In a statement issued on February 18, rebel spokesperson Laurence Kanyuka wrote: “The Amnesty International report is based on testimonies collected from people whose statements are not based on reality. We have also seen reports in the media that Amnesty International has not been able to verify the allegations in the report.
“The Amnesty International report is based on testimonies collected from people whose statements are not based on reality. We have also seen reports in the media that Amnesty International has not been able to verify the allegations in the report.
In a statement released, the M23 rebel group has accused Amnesty International of failing to properly investigate the recent violence in the DRC. They claim that AI’s investigators never went to the scene of the events to verify the testimonies they collected with the evidence on the ground.
The M23 accuses Amnesty of drawing “hasty and unverified conclusions” and of being biased against the government. They say that AI is not interested in the truth, but only in furthering its own agenda.
The accusations come as Amnesty International is preparing to release a report on the recent violence in the DRC, which is expected to be critical of both the government and the rebels.
The human rights organization Amnesty International has accused the Rwandan-backed rebel group M23 of raping dozens of women in a series of attacks in November 2022 in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
The group says that the rebels carried out the attacks in the towns of Bunia and Bwiza, and that the victims were all women and girls between the ages of 14 and 50. Amnesty International is calling on the Rwandan government to end its support for the M23 rebel group and to hold those responsible for the attacks accountable.
“Amnesty International bases its accusations on the testimony of 35 victims and direct witnesses. The organisation denounces “war crimes” which could also constitute “crimes against humanity,” the statement says.
According to Amnesty International, at least 66 women and girls were raped by the Rwandan-backed armed group M23 in the town of Kishishe, about 100 km north of Goma, capital of North Kivu province, the statement said. The town was attacked on July 30, and the rapes took place between July 30 and August 2. The victims were between the ages of 15 and 30.
After taking control of Kishishe, the M23 rebels “went door-to-door, killing all the adult men they could find and subjecting dozens of women to rape, including gang rape,” Amnesty said, without specifying the number of victims.
The M23 rebels respond that “the determination of rape cannot be so simplistic and limited to the statements of the victims”. For the rebels, “this offence requires forensic expertise to confirm”.
In November 2022, the Congolese government claimed that the M23 rebel group killed 272 civilians in the villages of Kishishe and Bambo, in North Kivu province in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. However, the United Nations has given a different version of the figures, saying that the rebels killed 171 civilians in these two villages.
The M23 rebel group denies the death toll claimed by the Congolese government, arguing that only “eight civilians were killed by stray bullets and 12 fighters with weapons in their hands” died in the fighting. The M23 claims that the majority of the victims were actually soldiers who were killed in combat.
One witness told Amnesty that he “counted up to 80 bodies of men shot by M23 elements” in a church, the report said. The victims were suspected to be supporters of rival armed groups, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and the local Mai Mai.
Despite repeated calls for a ceasefire from the African Union, the East African Community, the European Union and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continues to worsen. Fighting between the Congolese army and various rebel groups has displaced more than 1.4 million people since early December, and human rights groups have reported widespread atrocities, including rape and murder. The UN has warned that the DRC is on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s government says it is willing to hold “direct dialogue” with the M23 rebel group – but only if the rebels withdraw from conquered territory and lay down their weapons first.
The M23 rebel group has been fighting against the Congolese government since 2012, and has been calling for a “direct dialogue” in order to try and resolve the conflict. However, the Congolese government has so far refused to talk to the rebel group, demanding instead that they withdraw from the territory they have conquered and lay down their weapons.
The conflict has caused a humanitarian crisis in the region, with over 2 million people displaced. The fighting has also spilled over into neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda.