• Campaigns

Zaire / Rwanda: Fear for safety: human rights defenders

, Index number: AFR 02/018/1996

It has been reported that armed groups, who currently control the Zairian towns of Uvira, Bukavu and Goma, are targeting human rights defenders for human rights abuse. It is feared these abuses may include arbitrary killings.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AFR 02/18/96
EXTRA 174/96 Fear for safety 8 November 1996
ZAIRE / RWANDA Human rights defenders
Sources in eastern Zaire have alerted Amnesty International that armed groups,
who currently control the Zairian towns of Uvira, Bukavu and Goma are targeting
human rights defenders for human rights abuse. It is feared these abuses may
include deliberate and arbitrary killings. Amnesty International is concerned
for the safety of human rights defenders, who include those known to have
denounced human rights abuses in eastern Zaire.
On 31 October 1996, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bukavu, Christophe
Munzihirwa, was killed apparently during fighting in Bukavu between the Alliance
des forces democratiques pour la liberation du Congo-Zaire (AFDL), Alliance
of Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire, and the Zaïrian army. Amnesty
International is concerned that his killing may have been deliberate, as the
Archbishop was known to have publicly criticized the AFDL and its alleged support
by the Rwandese Patriotic Army (RPA).
On 7 November 1996, Laurent Kabila, an armed group leader in Bukavu, called
on the local population to take up arms and join the AFDL
Zaire's North and South-Kivu regions have a well-developed culture of human
rights organizations including non-governmental, church and development
groups, who have frequently denounced human rights violations in Rwanda and
Burundi, as well as in their own country, Zaire. Many of them have been harassed
and targeted for violations by members of the Zaïrian security forces.
The towns of Uvira and Bukavu in South-Kivu, as well as Goma in North-Kivu
are now under the control of the AFDL, which is allegedly supported by the
RPA. The borders with neighbouring Rwanda and Burundi are now closed and
information about their activities in the two regions are currently difficult
to obtain. The AFDL are reported to be behind attacks on refugee camps in North
and South Kivu regions and on Lemera hospital in South-Kivu, where dozens of
civilians were deliberately and arbitrarily killed.
Amnesty International has also received reports that members of the AFDL have
arrested and forcibly returned Burundi refugees from eastern Zaire, handing
them over to members of the Burundi security forces. Several hundred of these
refugees are reported to have been extrajudicially executed by members of the
Burundi security forces in recent days.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters, in
equal numbers to the four addressees, in French or your own language:
- urging leaders of the AFDL to issue public instructions to their members
not to commit human rights abuses, such as deliberate and arbitrary killings,
torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment;
- calling on the leaders of the AFDL to refrain from making public statements
that may incite violence, but rather to condemn human rights violations that
may have been committed by their combatants;
- asking that members of the AFDL in combat respect humanitarian law at all
times, reminding them that they should protect civilian against ill-treatment,
vengeance and hostage-taking;
- calling on members of the AFDL not to forcibly return Burundi refugees to
Burundi where they are at risk of severe human rights violations;
- reminding AFDL leaders that they will be held personally responsible for
any human rights abuses committed by those under their command, unless they
take action to prevent those abuses.
1. Laurent Desire Kabila, Chef de l'AFDL
BP 1897
Fax: +250 77226
Telegrams: Laurent Kabila, BP 1897, Kigali, Rwanda
Salutation (for all): Monsieur / Dear Sir
2.Andre Kissase Ngandu, Président du CNRD
(to above address)
3.Robert Bugera, Président de l'ADP
(to above address)
4. Masasa Minitaga, Président du MRLZ
(to above address)
M. Anastase GASANA
Ministre des Relations exterieurs,
Ministere des relations exteriers,
BP 179, Kigali, Rwanda
Fax: +250 72934
M Jean Marie Kititwa Tumansi
Ministre des Relations exterieures
Ministere des Relations exterieures,
BP 7100, Kinshasa-Gombe, Zaire
and to diplomatic representatives of Zaire/Rwanda/Burundi accredited to your
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 7 December 1996.

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