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DRC families demand exhumation of mass grave

Story from: CAJ News Africa

DRCmass graveFrom JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – FAMILIES of over 400 victims the Democratic Republic of Congo forces reportedly killed and buried two years ago in a mass grave west of the country are demanding the exhumation of the bodies and investigations into the killings.
They were secretly buried in the night of March 18-19 on the edge of a cemetery near the capital, Kinshasa.
Family members of victims who had been summarily executed or forcibly disappeared by security forces during protests in January 2015, and in “Operation Likofi,” an earlier police operation against gang crime, believe their loved ones are among those buried in Maluku.
In both operations, security forces took away the bodies of some of those killed and never returned them to their families for burial.
Families, members of parliament, rights groups, United Nations, European Union have filed complaints with Congo’s national prosecutor demanding justice and the exhumation of the Maluku mass grave but despite assurances, two years on, this has not materialized.
Ida Sawyer, Human Rights Watch director for Central Africa, said Congolese authorities must give victims’ families the answers and the justice they deserve.
She said authorities, with the help of international forensics experts, should exhume the dead in Maluku and reveal their identities.
“Then, they can bring those responsible for summary executions and enforced disappearances to justice.”
Government insists the burial of the 421 bodies was “normal procedure” and these included relatives of poor families who could not afford burial, unidentified bodies and stillborn babies.
Red Cross, hospitals and morgues, who are usually involved in such burials, strongly contest the claim.

CAJ News

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