Christmas Massacre in Eastern Congo

A tragic, over-looked story from last week:

Witnesses report massacre at church in Congo

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Attackers hacked to death scores of people who sought refuge at a Catholic church in remote eastern Congo the day after Christmas, officials and witnesses said Monday, and the Ugandan army and a rebel group accused each other of carrying out the massacre.

Survivors and witnesses said the killings occurred close to Congo’s border with Sudan, near to where the armies of those two countries and Uganda began an offensive this month to root out the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army, according to Ugandan army spokesman Capt. Chris Magezi.

A U.N. spokesman, Ivo Brandau, said 120 homes were set ablaze in the area and that thousands of people have fled for fear of further attacks.

The Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group has waged one of Africa’s longest and most brutal wars for the last two decades… The conflict has spilled out of northern Uganda and into Sudan and Congo.

“The scene at the church was unbelievable. It was horrendous. On the floor were dead bodies of mostly women and children cut in pieces,” Magezi told The Associated Press. He blamed the Lord’s Resistance Army for the massacre and quoted witnesses as saying the rebels used machetes, clubs and swords in Friday’s attack…

Witness Abel Longi said …  “I hid in bush near the church and heard people wailing as they were being cut with machetes,” Longi told the AP in a telephone call from the village of Doruma, where the church is located. He owns a shop there.

Death toll estimates varied, in part because the area is so remote…

The United Nations said the rebels killed 189 people in three villages over two days, 89 of them at Doruma, said U.N. spokesman Brandau…

Congo suffered back-to-back civil wars from 1996 to 2002 that drew in neighboring countries in what became a rush to plunder Congo’s massive mineral wealth.

Currently, long-running peace talks between the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Ugandan government have stalled. Rebel leaders have sought guarantees they will not be arrested under international warrants. The rebels’ elusive leader, Joseph Kony, and other top members are wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

First of all, this story is a horrifying reminder that terrible crimes are committed around the world all of the time – and that is especially disturbing when the whole world is focused on the violence in Gaza and on opening our Christmas presents and stuffing ourselves with food.

Second – this story shows how all of the terrible conflicts in Congo/Uganda/Sudan are interrelated and cannot be solved separately.  It is my New Year’s resolution to figure out how I can aid efforts to advocate for comprehensive solutions.  Any and all suggestions welcome.

Hat tip to IntLawGrrls.

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About Martha Heinemann Bixby

Advocacy. Politics. Life. Martha Heinemann Bixby.
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