Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 August 2014, 13:55 GMT

State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2010 - Democratic Republic of Congo

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 1 July 2010
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2010 - Democratic Republic of Congo, 1 July 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c33311927.html [accessed 27 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The vulnerable situation of minorities, including that of the Batwa or Bambuti Pygmies, in the DRC in 2009 was compounded further by major armed conflict, including in the Kivus and in the north-east. An agreement between the governments of the DRC and neighbouring Rwanda led to joint military operations in the Kivus at the start of the year targeting the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR), a Hutu power group. Renegade Congolese general Laurent Nkunda was detained on the Rwandan border and his forces of the Congrès national pour la défense du peuple (CNDP) were rapidly integrated into the Congolese army. With logistical support from the UN mission, the Congolese army launched a new operation against the FDLR, Kimia II, which continued for most of the year, leaving hundreds of thousands displaced.

As part of this conflict, some members of the Batwa/Bambuti minority community in the DRC have suffered torture, burning of their houses and killings, and have experienced a particularly high incidence of rape and extreme sexual violence. Two investigation missions undertaken by MRG and its partner organization the Réseau des associations autochtones pygmées (RAPY) in March and September revealed a pattern of repeated displacement, expropriation and violence against Bambuti communities throughout North and South Kivu, perpetrated both by the FDLR and by Congolese armed forces.

The elusive Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), an insurgency group that originated in northern Uganda in the 1980s, attacked dozens of villages and towns, mostly between December 2008 and January 2009, in the far north-east. Around 1,100 civilians were killed, hundreds abducted and close to 200,000 displaced, according to Alan Doss, head of the UN Mission in DRC (MONUC).

In its consolidated Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Periodic Report considered by the ACHPR during its 46th Session in November 2009, the DRC conceded interfering with the exercise of religious freedom in order to protect public interest. For instance, it reported suspending the activities of Pastor Kuthino Fernando's Victory Army Church for burning the Qur'an live on television.

In recent years, DRC has witnessed the mushrooming of many evangelical Christian sects, many with massive support from the global Christian community. Pastors of these sects implore their congregations to submit to divine providence, casting the solution to DRC's social and political challenges to God and not human agency. While such an approach is soothing to the political establishment, an attempt by religious organizations to challenge corruption and maladministration is met with repression and killings. In 2006 Bundu Dia Kongo (BDK), an Africanist spiritual movement established in 1986 by Ne Muanda Nsemi, mobilized traditional Kongo beliefs, recovered ancestral ways of self-governance and attracted national attention when its supporters began to clash regularly with police. The exchanges were exceptional for the extraordinary persistence on the BDK side, and the unwarranted brutality and unprecedented use of lethal force by state security forces. Independent reports by the UN and HRW suggest that several hundreds of unarmed BDK supporters were massacred. Congolese authorities, however, continued to label BDK a 'terrorist group' and maintained that the death toll from the clashes was around 30 persons. In March 2008, police made a pre-emptive strike, killing 200 BDK members in anticipation of further protests. The UN Mission in DRC considered the killings a deliberate effort to wipe out the BDK movement.

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