Members of the March 23 Movement (M23) rebel group killed at least twenty men and raped scores of women and girls in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, an Amnesty International investigation released reveals.
“Survivors and other witnesses said that between 21-30 November 2022 fighters for the Rwandan-backed M23 group summarily killed at least 20 men and raped at least 66 women and girls, mainly in Kishishe, a small town located about 100km north of Goma, the capital of North-Kivu province,” the report said.
A recent report accused the M23 rebel group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo of carrying out a campaign of violence against civilians. The report said that the rebel group had engaged in widespread looting, kidnapping, and rape in an effort to punish and humiliate those suspected of being supporters of rival armed groups. The accusations come at a time when the M23 is already under intense international pressure, and the Congo government has promised to investigate the matter.
“Since these attacks survivors have been living in terror and utter destitution. While some rape survivors received basic medical attention from community, health facilities most urgently need adequate medical and mental health care as well as humanitarian assistance,” said Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa.
Survivors and witnesses told Amnesty International that after taking control of Kishishe, groups of M23 fighters went house-to-house, summarily killing every adult male they found and subjecting scores of women to rape, including gang rape.
One of the victims, called Aline, is quoted by Amnesty International saying, ‘‘they broke through the gate of the compound and rounded up all the men present, seven in total, who they killed. Five soldiers then raped us: six women and me.”
The M23 rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo claims to be fighting for the implementation of previous political agreements with the Congolese government. The United Nations has accused Rwanda of backing the rebel group, and the Congolese government has accused Rwanda of supporting the rebel group in an effort to overthrow the government. The rebel group has been accused of human rights abuses, including the recruitment of child soldiers, and has been condemned by the international community.
The M23 rebel group has taken control of a large amount of territory in North Kivu province over the past year, resulting in the displacement of around 500,000 people, according to the United Nations. This province borders Rwanda and Uganda, and the M23 rebels have been causing significant instability and violence in the region. This has put a great deal of pressure on the local population, as well as on the governments of Rwanda and Uganda.