December 11, 2008

V. Abuses committed by Congolese army soldiers

On October 28 Congolese army soldiers abandoned their positions south of Rutshuru and fled north towards Kanyabayonga through Rutshuru and Kiwanja, ransacking towns and villages. They looted homes, shops, health clinics, displaced people's camps, and offices of international humanitarian organizations. As they ran, the soldiers left behind guns and other military hardware, sometimes throwing them away along the road.[61]

Fearing a CNDP attack, both residents of the towns and many displaced people fled with the Congolese army soldiers. The troops even stole the goods of these civilians in flight, sometimes beating or killing those who refused to part with their property. Deprived even of the meager belongings with which they planned to sustain themselves, some of the victims had no choice but to return home.[62]

The soldiers also forced civilians to transport the pillaged property. According to one Kiwanja resident, Congolese army soldiers forced a 25-year-old man to carry baggage for them. When he could no longer cope with the weight, the soldiers shot him in the head, killing him.[63]

[61]Human Rights Watch interviews with Kiwanja and Rutshuru residents, Congolese and international NGO representatives, and UN officials, in Goma, Kibati, and Kiwanja, November 2008.

[62]Human Rights Watch interviews with Kiwanja and Rutshuru residents and displaced people, some of whom were forced to return to Kiwanja and Rutshuru after being robbed by Congolese army soldiers while attempting to flee, in Goma, Kibati, and Kiwanja, November 2008.

[63]Human Rights Watch interview with Kiwanja resident, Kibati, November 25, 2008.