Rwandan rebels deny role in mass rapes in DRC

Hutu rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) said on Thursday that they were “in no way involved” in mass rapes reported in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The FDLR are “in no way involved in these odious actions and takes umbrage at the baseless accusations launched against them by the secretary general of the United Nations”, Ban Ki-moon, the rebel movement’s executive secretary, Callixte Mbarushimana, said in a statement from Paris.

The United Nations on Monday reported that at least 179 women and children had been raped in recent weeks in villages of the Nord-Kivu province of the DRC, where the Rwandan rebels are active.

Ban expressed outrage over the rapes, which his spokesperson, Martin Nesirky, said were committed during attacks by the Mai-Mai tribal militia and the FDLR, which has been based in eastern DRC since after the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

“This is another grave example of both the level of sexual violence and the insecurity that continue to plague the DRC,” Nesirky said on Tuesday.

‘Serious questions’
But Mbarushimana said that “The FDLR raises serious questions on the real motives that led the high authority of the UN to rush to incriminate them before even carrying out a preliminary inquiry into these odious acts.”

Because of the seriousness of the incident, Nesirky said, Ban has decided to send Atul Khare, his Assistant Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, to the DRC.

Ban’s special representative for issues involving sexual violence, Margot Wallstroem, has been put in charge of the UN response to the incident.

Members of the FDLR are accused by Rwanda of taking part in the genocide 16 years ago, in which 800 000 people were killed, mainly members of the Tutsi minority, before the extremists fled into the DRC when Tutsi-led forces took power in Kigali.

Rape is a weapon of war used against civilians in eastern DRC, where cases of assault against villagers are frequently reported and blamed on a range of armed movements, including the DRC’s regular army, the FARDC.

The United States on Wednesday said it was “deeply concerned” about the reports of mass rape and would work with the local government and the UN to bring the culprits to justice. — AFP

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


Where is the deputy president?

David Mabuza is hard at work — it’s just not taking place in the public eye. The rumblings and discussion in the ANC are about factions in the ruling party, succession and ousting him

Zuma turns on judiciary as trial nears

Former president says pre-trial correspondence is part of another plot

High court declares Dudu Myeni delinquent

Disgraced former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni has been declared a delinquent director by the...

SANDF inquiry clears soldiers of the death of Collins Khosa

The board of inquiry also found that it was Khosa and his brother-in-law Thabiso Muvhango who caused the altercation with the defence force members

Press Releases

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

Wills, Estate Administration and Succession Planning Webinar

Capital Legacy has had no slowdown in lockdown regarding turnaround with clients, in storing or retrieving wills and in answering their questions

Call for Expression of Interest: Training supply and needs assessment to support the energy transition in South Africa

GIZ invites eligible and professional companies with local presence in South Africa to participate in this tender to support the energy transition

Obituary: Mohammed Tikly

His legacy will live on in the vision he shared for a brighter more socially just future, in which racism and discrimination are things of the past

Openview, now powered by two million homes

The future of free-to-air satellite TV is celebrating having two million viewers by giving away two homes worth R2-million

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday