Julia Smith, editor of the Early In Time for Africa, describes the anguish of men and women trapped with their families in the latest spiral of violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
A line crosses the small and beautiful face of Rose. At one end, you see the marks of the stitches that extend under a white bandage that covers the top of your head. The wound was deep . The scars will remain throughout his life.
I was sitting a few meters away from her, being a stranger, someone from another world. But she did not show curiosity. It was as if I did not exist. It’s as if she “was away, without listening or looking at anything,” her father said.
Like many children in the town of Maze, in the province of Ituri, located in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rose Mapenzi, four years old, was tied to her mother’s back when the killers attacked her .
The women were preparing dinner when they heard the screams of the attackers. Those children as well as the elderly are an easy target. While they stagger in panic, the machetes cut and tear them.
Jeremy, Rose’s father, recalled the moment when a militia of the Lendu ethnic group invaded Maze, on March 1.
“They started to chase us and those who could not run were caught and macheteados, my daughter was hurt, but the assailants were in a hurry and did not kill her, she survived,” Jeremy said.
Malobi Lika managed to escape with her pregnant wife but she saw her sister when she was mutilated. The man described how the killers cut off his face and head.A senior UN official who visited the scene a day later said that “it was a cruel, savage attack and was meant to terrorize people . “
More than 40 people were killed. Their bodies were deposited in two common graves in the center of Maze. Its inhabitants bring fresh flowers every day, in memory of the dead.
A group of men approached and one of them pointed to a grave. He said that 18 members of his family had been buried there. He identified himself as David and was furious.
“You come to investigate, people come to investigate, but who is going to be held responsible for this? ““Who is going to be held accountable by the people who are dead? Who is going to help us? They come to bother us with tape recorders and cameras, but nobody brings us a solution.What is the solution? I am desperate,” he exclaimed.
David knows that in the Democratic Republic of the Congo there are few signs of hope for the poor.
The international community asks President Joseph Kabila to agree to hold elections before the end of the year, but he seems busy with North Korea or the Middle East.
At the moment there seems to be no intention of increasing the military presence of the United Nations. There are only 15,000 troops in a country the size of Western Europe.
The Maze massacre was perpetrated by members of the Lendu ethnic group against the Hema . The survivors said that the attackers arrived from a nearby town.
The crisis in n u mere
- 13 million people need humanitarian assistance.
- More than 4 million displaced.
- More than 7 million suffer from food insecurity.
- 2 million children at risk of dying of hunger, represent 12% of the cases worldwide.
This massacre has its antecedents. I reported for the first time of a mass murder in the region 15 years ago.
To catalog what happens there as “ethnic violence” is a reductionism . This can not be separated from current politics and bloody history in the nineteenth century, at the time of the empire.
What was supposed to be a time of liberation from colonialism in 1960 led to a war of secession .
At the same time, the CIA conspired to overthrow the then new national leader Patrick Lumumba . The US intelligence agency helped install one of the most corrupt dictators in African history, Mobutu Sese Seko, in power . He ruled through fear.
After Mobuto he assumed Laurent Kabila – murdered in January 2001 – and then his son Joseph who now clings to power beyond the two mandates allowed by the Constitution .
An elite accumulates wealth through the control of natural resources. The country -including the Ituri- province- is rich in oil, minerals and precious metals.Some of the African neighbors turned out to be as ruthless as many Western imperialists when exploiting the country’s natural resources. Seven African nations have intervened in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
More than 4 million people died in two extensive wars between the mid-1990s and the first years of the new millennium.
“Executions and corruption”
The state is not reliable in Ituri. In the minds of many, it represents arbitrary executions and endemic corruption . The worst of state power is expected.
In Ituri rumors abound that indicate that the massacre was planned, that money and weapons were distributed, in an attempt to foment ethnic violence.
The versions were not confirmed but even before this eruption of violence in Ituri, the opposition accused President Kabila of “spreading chaos” in other areas to avoid elections.I consulted the local governor, Jefferson Abadallah Pene Mbaka, who acknowledged that the police and the military failed and did not protect those responsible for the massacre.
The governor, however, defended the president: “I do not think it was the head of state who exacerbated the people, even though he does not want there to be elections.”
“For what purpose, in that way could I become the republic’s super-president? I do not see any reason for that.”
Conflicts in the provinces of Tanganyika, Kasai and North and South Kivu have caused the displacement of more than 4 million people in the country.
The scale of the drama is difficult to describe with the existing vocabulary about human suffering.
It is not difficult to anticipate a major tragedy if the current political instability persists.
In a country where millions of people have already died, the Maze massacre is a wake-up call to the world about what can happen if the Democratic Republic of the Congo falls into a deeper crisis.
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