Kishishe massacre

‘Stop the impunity in eastern Congo’

Guerchom Ndebo / AFP (Belga)

Families ontheemd door het geweld in Kanyarushinya in het noorden van Goma, 24 december 2022.

The recent massacre in eastern Congo ‘may become a tipping point in the atrocities that have plagued eastern Congo for decades’. So argue former minister Réginald Moreels, author David Van Reybrouck, political scientist and author Nadia Nsayi, MO* contributor Kris Berwouts and others. They call for an independent commission of enquiry to find out ‘what exactly happened, and who is responsible for what crimes’.

On 29 November, yet another massacre took place in the villages of Kishishe and Bumba, in a region currently controlled by the Rwanda-backed rebel group M23. Although only one of many hundreds of incidents in recent years, this massacre is notable for the high number of victims and the brutality of the attackers. What happened exactly, and how many people died, remains a subject of debate. The death toll ranges from 100 to 300 dead, depending on the source. This massacre could become a tipping point in the atrocities that have plagued eastern Congo for decades: conflicting information about the incident is fueling a spiral of hatred among all parties involved, the escalation of which could lead to new large-scale and cross-border bloodshed. A precise picture of what happened, who the victims are and who the perpetrators are, can contribute decisively to a more coherent and efficient response from the international community.

Conflicting information about the incident is fueling a spiral of hatred among all parties involved.

The signatories of this appeal, people who have been deeply affected by the suffering of the population and are very involved in the field in their professional and/or private lives, call on the international community, including African multilateral institutions, to establish an independent investigation commission, with an international mandate, to enter the site of the massacre and freely hear one by one the survivors and relatives of the victims in safe conditions.

We believe that the report of a well secured independent and internationally supported investigation commission going into the field is the only way to gather objective information about what exactly happened, and who is responsible for what crimes. As such, it becomes an instrument that allows for mobilising the International Court of Justice not to let this and other mass killings in eastern Congo go unpunished. We call for an independent commission of investigation to objectify the debate, end impunity and genocidal violence, and give lasting peace a chance.

Reginald Moreels (humanitarian surgeon), Bob Kabamba (professor of political science), Ivan Godfroid (agricultural economist), Nadia Nsayi (political scientist), Jan Goossens (NGO collaborator), Sandrine Ekofo (NGO collaborator), Jean-Claude Willame (professor emeritus of political science), Zana Etambala (professor history), David Van Reybrouck (writer), Lieven Miguel Kandolo (activist and writer), Luc Dusoulier (mutualist), Wamu Oyatambwe (political scientist and writer), Kris Berwouts (MO* contributor, Central Africa analyst and author)

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