State security forces deliberately killed or summarily executed more than 500 people in Kinshasa and Bas Congo and arbitrarily arrested and detained about a thousand more, many of whom were tortured or ill-treated, a damning report compiled by watchdog Human Rights Watch has revealed.
The report warns that the focus on the fighting in the Eastern DR Congo, could be shifting international radar screens from the Congolese government tyranny against its own people.
Warns HRW Africa Division senior researcher, Anneke Van Woudenberg, “While everyone focuses on the violence in eastern Congo, government abuse against political opponents attracts little attention.”
The recently released report has accused the Kinshasa Government of excessive repression of people perceived to be political opponents. The report further accuses Congolese President Laurent Kabila of ordering the killing of the 500 considered to be political opponents.
The 93-page report by the American based watchdog indicates increased repression since the November 2006 election that brought to power current President Joseph Kabila.
Targeted victims of this brutality, according to the report, are people hailing from the western part of the country “where the government lacks popularity”.
The DR Congo has been a global centre for attention for the past few months following the eruption of fresh fighting between government forces and the National Congress for the Defence of the People (DNDP) which is led by Gen Laurent Nkunda.
“Efforts to build a democratic Congo are being stifled not just by rebellion but also by the Kabila government repression,” Woudenberg adds.
The watchdog indicates that the worst of the torture cases took place in the capital Kinshasa and Bas Congo, an area it claims Kabila failed to win majority votes.
“In Kinshasa, Kabila launched what were in effect military operations against his electoral rival (Jean Pierre) Bemba in August 2006 and again in March 2007,” the report states.
A former rebel commander, Bemba ran against Kabila in a stiff election that left the latter as Head of State but only after a runoff.
HRW also claims that at least 1000 people have been detained and badly tortured in the run up to Kabila’s second anniversary as an elected leader. The report also accuses international donors of keeping silent on the human rights atrocities taking place there.