Hundreds of people have been brutally killed and more than 150,000 have fled their homes in remote parts of Katanga province in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Local residents of the area described to Human Rights Watch how they were trapped between the abuses of a local defense group called the Mai Mai on the one side and those of the Congolese army on the other. The killings and suffering were so widespread that residents called this region “the triangle of death.”
In 2003 the Mai Mai launched an insurgency against Congo’s new transitional government and its army. Since that time they have murdered local chiefs, government officials, persons who registered to vote in upcoming elections, and people they accuse of sorcery, many of whom were killed in horrific public ceremonies. Some of the victims were cannibalized. In response to the insurgency, government troops rounded up hundreds of civilians, including women and children, whom they accused of being Mai Mai. They deliberately killed or tortured to death dozens of these people and raped many women.
In this multimedia web special including photos, video, stories from the victims and legal analysis, Human Rights Watch documents the crimes committed by both sides and urges Congolese authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.