Amnesty Protests against Mass Rapes in Congo

Human rights organization Amnesty International says it is appalled by the latest report of mass rapes and other sexual violence in the Walikale region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

It has called on the government and the United Nations to urgently investigate the failure to protect civilians and to provide immediate medical and psychological relief to survivors.

Amnesty said the DRC government and the United Nations must urgently review the failures to protect civilians to prevent such horrors from being inflicted again.

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According to the United Nations, says Amnesty, more than 150 civilians in 13 villages were raped between July 30 and Aug. 2 by members of armed groups, including the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR).

Reports indicate that the rapes were organized and systematic, it says.

Amnesty suggests providing the survivors, witnesses and their communities with immediate medical and psychological treatment. Evidence, including witness testimonies, should be gathered and preserved, in order to facilitate bringing the perpetrators to justice.

The attacks occurred only weeks after the United Nations Security Council adopted a new mandate for its mission in the country to support the government in protecting civilians from violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses, including all forms of sexual and gender-based violence. The new mandate emphasized that protection of civilians must be given priority.

Sexual and gender-based violence is widespread in eastern DRC and committed by all sides to the conflicts, including the government forces that the United Nations is supporting, Amnesty said in a statement issued Thursday, August 26.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers in over 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide.

The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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Rakesh Raman