From Harassment to Open Attack
Since taking power in North and South Kivu, the RCD authorities have distrusted and sought to limit the many and lively actors of eastern Congolese civil society. As local actors have struggled to maintain their rights to free expression and association, as they have pursued new initiatives for dialogue with the Congolese government and civil society based in Kinshasa, and as they have served as a channel for criticizing the RCD and its Rwandan allies, the RCD has cracked down increasingly severely on civil society.
Civil society in eastern Congo comprises many different actors. There are dozens of human rights associations; human rights groups such as Heritiers de la Justice, Commission Justice et Paix and Groupe Jeremie have close links with the church, others have developed out of youth and students groups. There is a range of women's organizations such as Promotion et Appui aux Initiatives Feminines and Cadre de Concertation des Femmes oeuvrant a la base (PAIF). There are uncounted development and humanitarian non-governmental groups who work in such different fields as agriculture, food assistance, health care, education and small-scale enterprises. Among the most importantactors are the churches, which take an active part in public life. Many schools, social services, health care services, and intellectual centers are institutionally linked to the church. Journalists are another important voice of civil society. Although the media landscape is poor, several independent journalists try to continue their work in the written press, radio, or television.
In an effort to intimidate and control members of civil society, authorities arbitrarily and regularly detain them, call them in for interrogation, monitor their activities, and search their homes and offices. They commonly accuse them of supporting armed groups opposing their rule, conspiring with the Kabila regime, inciting rebellion against the RCD, encouraging public disorder, or fostering ethnic hatred, but they rarely file formal charges to this effect. Although they usually release most activists after only a few days, they require some to report to them every week. Soldiers and guards have sometimes beaten leaders of nongovernmental organizations while they are detained or have subjected them to other forms of ill-treatment. Authorities have publicly and privately criticized and threatened civil society. The governor of South Kivu, for example, accused several organizations of working for Kabila in a Christmas 1999 speech. Authorities have restricted the travel of representatives of civil society and have sought to limit information they communicate to others, particularly to persons outside the region.
National Consultations in Kinshasa: "Working with the Enemy"?
The RCD has used travel restrictions to try to cripple leaders of civil society, hampering their contacts with colleagues in other parts of the Congo and abroad. Not only do they make it more difficult for activists to build coalitions with other Congolese, they also hinder their fundraising and advocacy activities in the international arena.
Border guards have stopped civil society activists as they have tried to leave the country and authorities have notified many church and NGO leaders, either formally or informally, that they were not free to leave the country. RCD officials, who imposed such restrictions as early as December 1998, prevented church leaders and others, including Kuye Ndondo, president of the Church of Christ in Congo (Eglise du Christ au Congo, ECC) of South Kivu; the united Protestant group, Okpa; the Anglican bishop of Bukavu, Rev. Mushunganya; and Rev. Bulambo from traveling to Nairobi for a meeting in September 1999.97 RCD officials and soldiers have used travel restrictions increasingly to prevent eastern Congolese leaders from participating in the consultative political processes meant to help end the war, such as that organized by the All-African Conference of Churches in Kinshasa in September 1999. At that time, they kept the president of Promotion of Democracy and Protection of Human Rights (Promotion de la Democratie et Protection des Droits Humains, PDH) in Goma, Joseph Dunia Ruyenzi, from leaving for Bujumbura, apparently because they believed he would go on to Kinshasa for the meeting.98
Activists who managed to get to Kinshasa for this or other meetings have subsequently been detained or otherwise harassed. Jeannine Mukanirwa, vice-president of the important women's organization Promotion and Support for Feminine Initiatives (Promotion et Appui aux Initiatives Feminines and Cadre de Concertation des Femmes oeuvrant a la base, PAIF) attended the Kinshasa meeting and while there denounced the human rights record of the RCD authorities. After her return to Goma, on January 16, 2000, she was arrested and detained for several days at Bureau II. Immaculee Birhaheka, President of PAIF, was also detained for a day.99 Security forces also looked for Charlotte Kangwesi, another women's rights activist from an NGO called Uwaki, several weeks after her return from the Kinshasa meeting.100 The president of a development association, the Comite Anti-Bwaki, Patient Bagenda Balagizi, was stopped at the airport in Goma and had his passport seized on his return. Two members of the Goma branch of the umbrella organization CRONGN, Regional Council of Nongovernmental Organizations of Development (Conseil regional des organizations non-gouvernementales de developpement, CRONGN), Negura Bari and Muchango, weresummoned to the DGM (Direction Generale des Migrations) after participating in a meeting of the national bureau of CRONGN in Kinshasa. Negura Bari was released after several hours but Muchango was detained for one night.101
Some Bukavu activists who went to Kinshasa to participate in consultations have been afraid to return because of threats from the RCD authorities. Kuye Ndondo, president of the Church of Christ in Congo of South Kivu; the united Protestant group, Okpa; Madame Mitumwa, president of the Protestant women's group in South Kivu; and Jean-Baptiste Mugisho, vice-president of the Pentecostal Church were among those who left for Kinshasa in early January and then decided not to come home after the governor of South Kivu issued a letter threatening retribution.102
A second round of civil society meetings, intended to lead up to the Inter-Congolese National Dialogue stipulated in the Lusaka peace accords, started in March 2000. Shortly before, the vice-president of the RCD, Jean Pierre Ondekane, announced on television that some people would not be allowed to travel to Kinshasa. Later the governor of South Kivu also declared that he would authorize travel by NGO representatives only on a case-by-case basis.103 Bruno Bahati, member of the Bureau de Coordination de la Société Civile, was arrested on his return from Kinshasa in late April 2000 at the Ugandan-Rwandan border by Rwandan authorities. He is currently detained at the Gikondo brigade in Kigali.104
The RCD authorities also hindered preparations for a political dialogue by banning a preparatory meeting planned by the Coordination of Civil Society in North Kivu for September 8, 1999. In a letter to the Coordination, the mayor of Goma stated that "such political meetings as the one you are planning to have on 8 September 1999... are strictly forbidden...".105
RCD officials seek to limit the work of NGOs even within their own zone of control. In order to leave Goma and work with local groups in the rural parts of North Kivu, Goma-based NGOs must get permission from RCD authorities and must inform them in detail about the work they plan to be doing.
Strikes in Bukavu and Goma, January-February 2000: An Excuse to Attack Civil Society
Following a call by a "Commandant Mbayo" and the previously unknown "Forces armées populaires," most of the inhabitants of Bukavu observed a week-long general strike to protest against taxes imposed by Rwandan authorities and the presence of foreign troops in Kivu. From January 31 to February 4, Bukavu was a ville morte, or "dead city," with stores, markets, businesses, schools and offices empty. On February 14, people in Goma followed the example of Bukavu and observed a general strike for one day. Similar strikes took place in Walungu and other urban centers.
The organizers of the strike have not been identified, but RCD officials blamed many NGO leaders and intellectuals and arrested them. The commander of the "Chien Méchant" detention center in Goma told Human Rights Watch openly that the arrests were meant to intimidate civil society:
We arrested all of these people, and everyone was afraid because they did not know what would happen to them, whether we would kill them or beat them. But they were fine, and we released them the next day. Really this was only intended to intimidate the population.106
In Goma, security forces particularly targeted people from South Kivu because they were suspected of having "imported" the idea of the strike from Bukavu.
On January 29, after the strike had been called but had not yet begun, three leading members of civil society were arrested at different places in Bukavu: Patient Bagenda Balagizi, the president of the Comite Anti-Bwaki, Ramazani Musombo from an NGO providing credit in rural areas, and Gustave Lunjwire, secretary general of the Xaverian Movement, a large Catholic lay organization. As noted above, the three were taken to the ANR detention center where they were crammed into a small cabinet-like cell without windows. One of the detainees estimated that the cell, ordinarily reserved for punishing prisoners, measured less than one meter square. Because there was no space to sit, they three men spent the night standing. As there was no ventilation, they had to take turns breathing at a hole in the door. The next day, they paid the guards money to be freed from the cell.107
Ramazani Musombo, accused of photocopying pamphlets calling for the strike, was released on 31 January. Patient Bagenda, charged with paying for the pamphlets, acting as "political leader of the Mai-Mai," and getting support from Kabila, and inciting ethnic hatred, was detained until February 2 along with Gustave Lunjwire. When ANR officials released them, they apologized, and said that they were also tired of the war. They urged the two to cooperate with the authorities. Bagenda has since been told by an immigration official that he is not allowed to leave the country.108
On 14 February, the day of the strike in Goma, a highly respected doctor at Goma hospital, Dr Paluku, was arrested at the Hotel Ishango together with his colleague, Jules Songe, the administrator at the hospital, and a friend, Sumaili. Six Congolese policemen who were sitting at the next table were arrested at the same time. All nine were taken to the ANR detention center and then to the Direction Générale des Migrations (DGM). An ANR official accused them plotting to overthrow the regime. Later that day, they were told that the ANR had made a mistake but they remained in detention. When they were interrogated the next day, they were accused of having meetings with members of the Bashi ethnic group of South Kivu; Paluku had served as a doctor in Bukavu for a number of years. Later in the week, an adviser to the RCD Head of Security, Mr. Musafiri, told them that the Congolese were in favor of their release, but that Rwandan military officials wanted to detain them longer to teach a lesson to the intellectuals of Goma. They were provisionally released on 19 February.109
On 15 February, Charles Cikomola, the head of Amikivu, a medical NGO, was arrested in Goma at his workplace. He had not participated in the strike on the previous day but he was taken to the Chien Méchant detention center anyway. There he was forced to lie down and was whipped on the back. In interrogations, soldiers accused him of having brought the pamphlet calling for strike from Bukavu to Goma. He was released on 19 February.110
Also detained were four employees of the Regional Association for the Provision of Essential Medicines in North Kivu (Association regionale d'approvisionnement en medicaments essentiels au Nord Kivu, ASRAMES). They were detained from 21 to 25 February at the Chien Méchant and beaten. They were accused of sending messages abroad and during their detention the security forces came to the ASRAMES office and searched their computer.111
Attacks on Human Rights Activists
The authorities accuse human rights organizations of spreading rumors, opposing the regime, encouraging insecurity, and inciting ethnic hatred and genocide. As one human rights activist told Human Rights Watch, "Every time that someone tries to criticize the RCD, it accuses the critic of genocide." Authorities use such accusations to justify questioning, arresting, and otherwise harassing activists, searching and looting their offices and homes, andseizing or censoring their publications. Given these hostile conditions, many human rights groups do not publish the results of their investigations; those that do face serious harassment.
APREDECI is a Goma-based NGO doing development work and human rights education. Jean Pierre Masubuko, head of its administrative council, had already been questioned in June 1998 about contacts with international human rights groups like "Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, Lawyers Group."112 On February 2, 2000, at about 2 p.m., as Masubuko was walking by the transport company TMK in downtown Goma, a Toyota Hilux with six Congolese RCD soldiers pulled up. A soldier called him by name and told him to get into the cab of the truck. He hesitated, but got in after one of the soldiers pointed a gun at him. The soldiers beat him and prodded him with knives, threatening to cut him. They took him to Chien Méchant, where a number of soldiers took turns beating him. He heard one soldiers telling another, "Hit this one hard, because he's the one who's causing our failure." The next morning, an investigator interogated him and accused him once again of having contacted international human rights groups. He was told, "It is you who support the Interahamwe, our enemies. It is you who transmit information outside the country." They accused him of having a camera and of sending pictures to Amnesty International.113 He was released conditionally on February 5 after giving a bribe, but he was required to present himself at Chien Méchant each day for a week.114
Heritiers de la Justice
Police and security forces have repeatedly questioned members of Heritiers de la Justice (Heirs of Justice), a Bukavu-based human rights group sponsored by a coalition of Protestant churches in South Kivu. It publishes regular human rights reports, including a newsletter Nota Bene, and a biannual survey of the human rights situation in South Kivu, which has denounced human rights abuses by the RCD and RPA. One of their staff members, Rafael Wakenge, was arrested in August 1999 for days; a colleague, Pascal Kabungulu, was summoned at the same time (see below).
RCD authorities have frequently tried to discredit human rights groups by accusing them of spreading false rumors. Heritiers de la Justice reported the torture and killing of women in Mwenga in a December 15, 1999 edition of Nota Bene115 which received considerable international attention. RCD authorities then summoned several members of Heritiers for questioning and pressured them to reveal the sources of their information. When the activists refused to do so, the RCD accused them of merely spreading rumors. In March 2000, the Head of the Department of Justice and Settlement of Conflicts, Jean Marie Emungu Ehumba, wrote the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Democratic Republic of Congo, Roberto Garreton, casting doubt on the report:
A preliminary enquiry of the authors of this article reveals that no one has seen soldiers burying people alive. This is just information that they received from rumors from people who are in grief. The informants are not able to give the identity of those who denounced or spread these rumors. . . . Spreading of false rumors that alerts public opinion unnecessarily is an infraction which is punishable under the Congolese penal law.116
Emungu and other Department of Justice officials reiterated these accusations during interviews with Human Rights Watch researchers and suggested that failure to produce witnesses could become grounds for prosecuting Heritiers de la Justice.117
Groupe Jeremie, a human rights association in Bukavu linked with the Catholic Church, produced a booklet in June 1999 on the rights of the child. One day before publication, on June 15, RCD soldiers broke into their office while it was closed for lunch. They searched the place and looted computers and other equipment as well as copies of the report and other publications. Called in for questioning, the organizers of Groupe Jeremie were charged with "endangering state security," with having produced pro-Mai-Mai pamphlets, with "preparing a genocide," and with encouraging ethnic hatred. The charges have apparently since been dropped. The governor of South Kivu and the head of the Department of Territorial Administration, Joseph Mudumbi, also accused Groupe Jeremie on the radio of producing subversive pamphlets.118
In February 2000, Groupe Jeremie produced a short radio programme, called "Flash," on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The authorities censored the text and sent it back for correction. When Groupe Jeremie re-submitted the text, the authorities asked them to take out references to the war. At that point the organization decided not to publish the "Flash."119
Center pour l'Education, Animation et Defense des Droits de l'Homme
RCD authorities also harass smaller and less well-known organizations, such as the Center pour l'education, animation et defense des droits de l'homme which works in Uvira and in Fizi territory, South Kivu. On 14 November 1999, Jerry Dunia Kashindi, one of its leading members, was arrested by several soldiers at his home in Kizimia, Fizi territory and taken to a military post where he was tied up and beaten. He was then transferred to the prison of Fizi town where he was detained until November 22. On February 1, 2000, during the strike in Bukavu, Kashindi was arrested there and held at the DGM for four days.120
The Collective of Youth Organizations of South Kivu (Collectif des Organizations des Jeunes du Sud-Kivu, COJESKI), a coalition of 180 youth associations from throughout South Kivu, publishes La Voix de la Jeunesse, a journal that has increasingly focused on documenting human rights abuses. Because of this human rights work and COJESKI's sponsorship of training session for nonviolent action and for human rights investigations, RCD officials have targeted COJESKI as a threat to their authority.121 In his December 24, 1999, Christmas message broadcast on RTNC-Bukavu, the governor of South Kivu accused COJESKI of cooperating with Kabila and the Mai-Mai and of fostering ethnic hatred. Dieudonné MUSHAGALUSA, a COJESKI coordinator, was summoned to the Division of Justice for questioning on January 6, 2000. The officials who interrogated him accused COJESKI of engaging in politics and using money intended for economic development to support public disorder. A COJESKI organizer in Walungu was arrested on February 15, 2000, one day after a general strike there, and held for three days.122
Attacks on the Media
In an effort to control information both within their zone and that disseminated to the world outside, RCD authorities have censored or banned publications and radio programs. They have threatened, detained, and harassed journalists and sacked their places of work, sometimes confiscating communication materials and documents.
Radio Maendeleo is an independent, nonprofit radio station in South Kivu that produced news as well as programs on development, human rights, and other subjects, much of it provided by local NGOs.123 On July 7, 1999, representatives of the RCD Department of Information, Press, and Cultural Affairs ordered Radio Maendeleo to stop producing its own political news and debates and to use instead those provided by the official Radio Télévision Nationale Congolaise (RTNC). Radio Maendeleo disregarded the order. On July 20, 1999, the radio broadcast live a public meeting about the Lusaka accords during which the crowd screamed insults at RCD Vice-President Jean Pierre Ondekane. The following day, reportedly on Ondekane's order, authorities seized its equipment and Radio Maendeleo stopped broadcasting. On July 30, 1999, the head of the Department of Information, Press and Cultural Affairs officially suspended the radio station.124
On August 25, 1999, the director of Radio Maendeleo, Kizito Mushizi Nfundiko, and its head of program and information, Kamengele Omba, together with six members of other nongovernmental organizations were stopped by RCD soldiers when they were leaving a meeting of CRONGD in Radio Maendeleo's vehicle. The soldiers had a list of names of people, including Kizito and Kamengele, accused of participating in a "secret subversive meeting." They arrested all the occupants of the vehicle and took them to the Agence National de Renseignments (ANR). The six other persons were released later the same day but the two journalists were held at the ANR detention center where they were accused of listening to military secrets on their walkie-talkies.125
Two days later, the authorities also arrested Rafael Wakenge Ngimbi, staff member of Heritiers de la Justice, and summoned one of his colleagues, Pascal Kabungulu. They accused Wakenge of helping the journalists listen to military secrets and took him to a detention center at the military prosecutor's office. Wakenge, Kizito, and Kamengele were transferred to the Central Prison of Bukavu on 28 August where they remained until September 8, 1999, when they were provisionally released. They were required to appear at the prison each Friday for several months. The authorities and Radio Maendeleo are currently negotiating the conditions for re-opening the radio.126
Nsasse Ramazani Seraphin, a civil servant and journalist, was taken to court by government official twice in 1998 on charges of libel and found innocent both times. On July 21, 1999, he was arrested again after a RNTC broadcast about corruption surrounding the sale of a damaged Air Congo plane by the RCD authorities. He was accused of endangering state security and of being anti-Tutsi and anti-RCD. He was taken to "Chien Méchant" detention center where he remained for three days. Since that time, he is often followed.127
On 23 July 1999, four journalists from RTNC were summoned following a program they had produced speculating on the extension of the Rwandese border into Congolese territory. Two of them, Primo Rudakigwa and Delion Kimburumbu, were detained for several days in Goma. The two others, Robert Dunia and Viki Makambo, were temporarily suspended in mid 1999.128
The only independent newspaper now publishing in the eastern Congo is Les Coulisses, edited by Nicaise Oka Kibelebele. The newspaper has published articles critical of the RCD, such as one accusing RCD leaders of illegally acquiring land. In early 2000, the prosecutor's office opened an investigation against Kibelebele, which the RCD Department of Justice claims is meant to verify the facts to ensure that the paper is not being libelous. According to a report published by Kibelebele in Les Coulisses, Joseph Mudumbi, the head of the Department of Territorial Administration, called him to his office during the first week of March and threatened him for publishing an article critical of his involvement in land deals.129
The RCD suspended another independent newspaper, La Croissance Plus, in September 1999 following an article in its August 31, 1999, edition that criticized the "absence of democracy" under RCD rule.130
Security forces arrested Raphael Kinyongi in January 2000 and held him in "Chien Méchant" for forty-eight hours apparently after he took pictures of street children. Kinyongi works for Junction, a business journal, and said he was planning to use the pictures for an article on unemployment. The security forces accused him of taking the pictures to show the outside world that the people of Congo were living in misery. They also questioned him about an article on the Mai-Mai that had appeared previously in the journal.131
The RCD has also threatened reporters for international news agencies. The head of the Department of Information, Kinkei Molumba, regularly contacts stringers for the BBC and Voice of America to forbid them to report on certain stories or to reprimand-and sometimes threaten-them for reports that have appeared on BBC or VOA. In early February, 2000, for example, Delion Kimbolumpo contacted the VOA office in Washington about a protest march in Goma by the wives of soldiers who objected to their husbands' being sent to the front. Molumba called the next day after a report appeared on VOA and threatened Kimbolumpo with punishment, driving him to flee Goma temporarily. Molumba also forbade reporters to discuss the Ville Morte ("Ghost Town" strike) in Goma in February.
Attacks on Women's Groups
RCD authorities sought to disrupt plans for a march against violence towards women to be held on International Women's Day, March 8, 1999. Authorities initially authorized the march, but a few days before the event, the governor of South Kivu invited the organizers to meeting in which he asked them about their precise plans. He claimed that tracts and rumors had indicated that the women were planning to march nude, a traditional method of extreme protest. The women said they explained that they had no such plans and that at that time the governor promised to give some money in support of their work.132
The evening before the scheduled march two soldiers came to the house of one of the organizers, Marie Jeanne Mbachu, from the Consultative Group for Women Working at the Grassroots (Cadre de Concertation des Femmes Oeuvrant a la Base). They told her that the security forces were looking for her because she was preparing a march of naked women. The next morning, on International Women's Day, RCD officials announced on the radio that the march was canceled. The women's organizations reluctantly gave in but addressed a letter of protest to the governor. In April 1999, Mbachu was denied permission to leave the country for a business trip. She was accused of having seditious documents and inciting women to revolt.133
For March 8, 2000, women's organizations in Kivu decided to organize a "Day without Women" during which the women would stay at home, grieving for their dead husbands and sisters, and praying. On March 1, one of the organizers, Zita Kavungirwa of Network of Women for the Defense of Rights and Peace (Reseau des Femmes pourla Défense des Droits et la Paix), was summoned to the ANR. During her interrogation she was accused of "preparing genocide" with the activities planned. She was also told that she and her colleagues would be prosecuted.134
On March 7, 2000, in the evening, Mbachu was interviewed on Voice of America about the "Day without Women," an interview that was broadcast the next morning. During the day of March 8, many women stayed at home or went to pray in churches. On March 9, the governor was interviewed on radio and accused Marie Jeanne Mbachu of lying. The same day, at the request of Radio France International, she gave another interview in response to the governor, in which she defended herself. The following day, RCD officials called her employer, the German Technical Cooperation (Gesellschaft fuer technische Zusammenarbeit, GTZ), to arrange a meeting for March 11. At that meeting, the RCD authorities told GTZ if it did not dismiss Ms. Mbachu, the RCD would close down its whole operation. In a letter to Ms. Mbachu seen by Human Rights Watch researchers, GTZ informed her it would have no further need for her services.135
Attacks on Churches
RCD officials and soldiers have sought to limit the influence of clergy, apparently seeing churches as a rival center of power in local society. They have restricted the travel of such leaders as the Anglican bishop of Bukavu and the head of the ECC in Bukavu. They have threatened some priests and pastors and brought others in for questioning at the ANR and elsewhere. Political officials such as the governor of South Kivu and Commandant Ondekane have publicly accused clergy of inciting ethnic hatred and of colluding with the Kabila regime and armed opposition groups.
The RCD has seen the strongest challenge as coming from Emmanuel Kataliko, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Bukavu. Installed as archbishop in 1996 after the assassination of his predecessor, Kataliko apparently first roused the anger of the RCD in February 1999 when he told them that the security problems in eastern Congo resulted from conflicts in Rwanda and should be resolved within Rwanda. He generated even greater anger among the RCD officials with his pastoral letter for Christmas 1999 in which he wrote:
Foreign powers, with the collaboration of certain of our Congolese brothers, organize wars with the resources of our country. These resources, which should be utilized for our development, for education of our children, for healing our sick, in short so that we could live in a humane fashion, serve to kill us. More still, our country and we ourselves have become objects of exploitation. All that is of value has been pillaged, sacked and taken outside the country or simply destroyed.136
Kataliko was in Kinshasa preparing for the annual episcopal conference when the strike began in Bukavu. At the time a tract purportedly from the Banyamulenge community circulated in Bukavu, accusing the archbishop of fostering hatred against Tutsi and preparing genocide.137 On February 10, BBC radio news announced that Katoliko, although a Congolese national, had been declared persona non grata by the RCD. RCD officials in Boma and Bukavu declared the report false, but security forces stopped Kataliko after he arrived in Goma on February 12 and as he was preparing to leave for Bukavu. They sent him to Butembo, his home community, which is outside RCD-Goma control. The next day, RCD-Goma Vice-President Jean Pierre Ondekane said in a radio interview on RTNC that Kataliko had used his Christmas message to preach ethnic hatred. Ondekane claimed, "We have taken this measure of suspending his presence in Bukavu, because we have the need to protect and assure the security of the population."138
Priests who have supported the archbishop have been threatened by RCD authorities. Soldiers came to search for Father Gyakira Bugandwa in Nyangezi after he read the archbishop's Christmas letter in church. After hiding for several days, the priest felt compelled to flee for his own safety. During the Bukavu strike, a Rwandan officer, Commander Macumu, sought out several priests whom he accused of preaching ethnic hatred and he threatened to have one Italian priest expelled from the Congo.139
Following Kataliko's banishment, the Catholic Church of Bukavu declared a general strike, closing church schools and offices and suspending mass. The Protestant group ECC also closed its schools in support, as did the Kimbanguist Church. The Protestants pointed out that some of their leaders had also been denounced in tracts for inciting ethnic hatred.140 In mid-March, with churches still on strike, the situation in Bukavu remained tense.
Father Paul Juakali preached a 1999 Easter sermon at Mweso Catholic parish in Masisi titled "Democratic Republic of Congo: Why the New War?" in which he questioned the reasons for the war and discussed the negative consequences for the population. Two days later on the road between Kalembe and Mweso soldiers stopped the truck in which Juakali was traveling, singled him out by name and killed him, while allowing the other passengers to continue on their way. Witnesses said that the soldiers were all Hutu, but did not know whether they were from the RCD or from a group of the armed opposition.141 At least five Catholic priests have been killed in Uvira diocese since the beginning of the war, most recently Remis Pepe Kibuyu on February 19, 2000. The priest parish of Kalonge in South Kivu was also killed on November 22, 2000. In February, Father Isidore Munyashungori, an elderly teacher, was killed during an attack on the refectory at Buhimba parish near Goma.
As centers of relative wealth in a country of desperate poverty, churches have been frequently attacked simply for the booty they offer. RPA troops attacked Mugogo parish in Walungu around 11 p.m. on January 2, 2000. They roused the three priests, who were already in bed, and demanded dollars and other goods. They forced the priests outside where there were other soldiers and demanded to be led to the community of nuns that lived near the parish. When one priest said that there were no nuns, a soldier struck him with the butt of his gun. Some soldiers went to the nearby commercial center and forced residents there to lead them to the monastery. They shot open the door, went in, and stole more. Some soldiers beat the priests further for having lied and they talked of killing them but then left without further violence. According to people in the area, the goods pillaged from the church were transported back to the RPA/RCD base at Molume.142
On the same day, RCD and RPA troops attacked Ciharamo parish in Kalehe. A group of priests and laity was gathered in the rectory around 8:30 p.m. when ten soldiers forced their way in, leaving others to guard outside. Several of the soldiers went through the house looting while others beat the men in the room, mostly with the butts of their guns, breaking the arm of one priest. A priest recognized a Rwandan Hutu among the soldiers, a former refugee who is now part of the RPA. Another person recognized a Congolese RCD soldier who had previously been stationed at Walungu.143
An enormous number of churches and church schools and health centers that have been pillaged since the beginning of the war. The Community of Free Pentecostal Churches in Africa (Communautée des Eglises Libres de Pentecôte en Afrique, CELPA) has had more than sixty schools pillaged in South Kivu alone, as well as a number of health centers and church buildings.144
Accusations of Inciting Ethnic Hatred
With RPA soldiers, most of them Tutsi, still actively assisting the RCD in maintaining control in eastern Congo, local people express growing hostility against Rwandans and particularly against Tutsi. They also express hostility against Banyamulenge, their fellow Congolese of Tutsi origin who were closely linked with the RPA during the first Congo war and during the early stages of the second war. Some Banyamulenge have more recently tried to distance themselves from the RCD. As one remarked to Human Rights Watch researchers,
For us, the Banyamulenge community has never been a member of the RCD. There are Banyamulenge individuals who are in the RCD-as are other communities. . . . In town, in Bukavu and Uvira, the Banyamulenge are against the RCD.145
The rise in hostility towards Tutsi and Banyamulenge is particularly dangerous given the precedent of genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda itself in 1994. A pamphlet calling for the February general strike signed by a "Commander Mbayo" demanded that the work stoppage continue until the "Rwando-Ugando-Burundian aggressors and all their Nilotic and white allies leave our Congolese territory." The idea that Tutsi or Tutsi-related people like the Banyamulenge represent a "Nilotic" or "Hamitic" race and that other peoples, such as Rwandan Hutu or local Congolese people, are part of a different "Bantu" race underlay the genocidal ideology that cost half a million lives in Rwanda. This bipolar characterization of society is historically inaccurate but is taken for true by many people of the region. The introduction of this supposed "Nilotic" against "Bantu" conflict into the Congo embitters and distorts previously existing differences among local groups and complicates the search for a solution to conflicts of interest among them.
Other pamphlets have circulated in the region calling on local people to discriminate against Banyamulenge, by such practices charging them higher prices in the market or by refusing to share a taxi bus with them. Although not generally observed, such calls are sometimes put into effect, creating an intimidating atmosphere for Banyamulenge.
Some local people recount stories of a dog being dragged on a leash through the dust, with the person slowly killing it singing a song about his wish to kill Tutsi the same way. A similar account features a dog being dragged to its death behind a car. These stories indicate a hostility against Tutsi which could in certain circumstances result in widespread killing.
Discovering the leaders in inciting hatred of Tutsi and Banyamulenge is extremely difficult. "Commander Mbayo," supposedly a Mai-Mai leader, has not been identified and may not exist as a single, real person.
The dozens of church representatives, human rights activists, journalists and leaders of non-governmental organizations who met with Human Rights Watch researchers in the region all expressed commitment to the principle of non-violence. Well-placed to counteract inflammatory language and speak out for the rights of all minorities, these leaders could play a more active role in defusing ethnic tensions.
RCD Accusations of Inciting Ethnic Hatred
RCD authorities frequently accuse civil society leaders of fomenting ethnic violence and hatred. The authorities link this accusation to another, that of receiving money from Kabila. In a meeting with a Human Rights Watch researcher, the deputy head of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Maitre Ruberwa, said: "Kabila has succeeded in subverting the NGOs." He also asserted that some NGOs in Bukavu favored giving an amnesty to the Interahamwe. In the memorandum to the U.N. special rapporteur on the Democratic Republic of Congo, the head of the Justice Department of the RCD, Jean-Marie Emungu Ehumba, wrote:
NGOs and even some church people. . . pretend that the misery of Congo is the presence of Tutsi, who are assimilated to the armed rebellion and to the allies of the RCD. . . . This is why some circles of the civil society work for the destabilisation of the Great Lakes subregion, by cooperating directly with or as middlemen between the negative forces, Kabila's government and certain Western funders.146
The RCD uses these broad and undocumented accusations to weaken leaders of civil society and to discredit them with international observers. Should it have concrete instances of incitation to hatred and violence, it should charge and bring to trial those accused of such practices.
97 Letter of Theodore Ruganzu, Deputy Administrator, Direction Générale des Migrations, December 1, 1998; Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, March 15, 2000.
98 Human Rights Watch interview, Goma, March 8, 2000.
99 Human Rights Watch interview, Goma, March 10, 2000.
100 Human Rights Watch interview, Goma, March 8, 2000.
102 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, March 15, 2000.
103 Human Rights Watch interview, Goma, March 8, 2000; Bukavu, March 15, 2000.
104 Communication by electronic mail to Human Rights Watch, April 27, 2000.
105 Letter by the Mayor of Goma, F.X. Nzabara Masetsa, to the President of the Civil Society of North Kivu, September 7, 1999 ( "... de telles rencontres politiques que vous compter entamer ce 8 septembre 1999... sont strictement interdites...").
106 Human Rights Watch interview, Goma, March 9, 2000.
107 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, March 15, 2000.
109 Human Rights Watch interview, Goma, March 9, 2000.
110 Human Rights Watch interview, Goma, March 10, 2000.
112 Human Rights Watch interview in Goma, March 17, 2000.
114 Ibid. This account was confirmed by conversations with several other activists.
115 Heritiers de la Justice, Nota Bene, no. 47, Bukavu: December 15, 1999.
116 Mémoire en réponse à la copie préliminaire du rapport E/CN/2000/42 de Monsieur Roberto Garreton, Rapporteur Special des Nations Unies pour les Droits de l'Homme en Republique Democratique du Congo, 2 Mars 2000. ("L'enquête préliminaire menée auprès des rédacteurs de cet article révèle que personne n'a vu les militaires enterrer les personnes vivantes, c'est seulement des informations, disent-ils, qu'ils auraient reçues des rumueurs des personnes qui auraient été en deuil. Les informateurs ne sont pas en mesure de donner l'identité des dénonciateurs ou des coplorteurs des ces rumeurs... Le colportage des faux bruits de nature à alarmer inutilement l'opinion publique est une infraction prévue et punie par la loi pénale congolaise.").
117 Human Rights Watch interviews, Goma, March 7 and 17, 2000.
118 Human Rights Watch interview, March 11, 2000.
120 Human Rights Watch Interview, Bujumbura, April 5, 2000.
121 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, March 15, 2000.
123 Maendeleo means "development" in Swahili.
124 Proces-Verbal de saisie conservatoire du materiel d'emission de Radio Maendeleo par le Commandement de la 6e brigade de Bukavu, July 21, 1999. Decision n. 4 /DIPAC/RCD/99 portant suspension de la licence d'exploitation de la Radio Maendeleo/Bukavu, July 30, 1999; Decision N. 4/DIPAC/RCD/99 portant suspension de la licence de l'exploitation de la radio Maendeleo/Bukavu, signed by Lambert Mende Omalanga, Chef du Departement de l'Information, Presse et Affaires Culturelles, July 30, 1999.
125 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, March 13, 2000. See also Heritiers de la Justice, "Situation des droits de l'homme," pp. 11-12.
127 Human Rights Watch interview, Goma, March 17, 2000.
128 Human Rights Watch interview, Goma, March 10, 2000.
129 Human Rights Watch interview, Goma, March 17, 2000.
130 Human Rights Watch interview, Goma, March 10, 2000.
131 Human Rights Watch interview, Goma, March 17, 2000.
132 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, March 15, 2000.
134 Human Rights Watch interviews, Bukavu, March 15-16, 2000.
135 Ibid.; Human Rights Watch interview, by telephone, May 3, 2000.
136 Mgr. Kataliko Emmanuel, "Consolez, consolez mon peuple" (Is 40,1) "L'esperance ne trompe jamais" (Rm 5,5): Message de Noel 1999 aux Fidèles de Bukavu, Bukavu, Decmber 24, 1999.
137 "Réaction de la Communauté Banyamulenge au sujet de la situation qui prévaut dans la ville de Bukavu," Bukavu, February 3, 2000; the Banyamulenge are an ethnic group living in eastern Congo related to the Tutsi ethnic group of Rwanda.
138 Archeveche Bukavu, "Relegation de Mgr. Kataliko: Dossier Chronologique," February 29, 2000, and interviews in Bukavu, March 13, 2000.
139 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, March 13, 2000.
140 Interviews in Bukavu, March 12-13, 2000. See also, Eglise du Christ au Congo, "Position de l'Eglise du Christ au Congo/Sud-Kivu Face à la situation qui Prévaut dans la Ville de Bukavu et ses Environs," Bukavu, February, 2000.
141 Human Rights Watch interview, Goma, March 8, 2000.
142 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, March 12, 2000.
143 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, March 13, 2000.
144 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, March 14, 2000.
145 Human Rights Watch interview, March 14, 2000.
146 Mémoire en réponse à la copie préliminaire du rapport E/CN/2000/42 de Monsieur Roberto Garreton, Rapporteur Special des Nations Unies pour les Droits de l'Homme en Republique Democratique du Congo, 2 Mars 2000. (ONG et même certains hommes d'église... font croire que les malheurs du Congo, c'est la presence des Tutsi assimilés à la rébellion armée et aux allies du RCD ...C'est ainsi que certains milieux de la société civile du Sud-Kivu oeuvrent pour la déstabilisation de la sous-région des grands lacs en pactisant directement ou en faisant relais entre les forces négatives, le gouvernment Kabila et certains bailleurs de fonds occidentaux.")