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Security Council Condemns

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CONGO-DEM.REPUBLIC, 16 JAN 2003 (9:54)

ITURI: UN SECURITY COUNCIL FIRMLY CONDEMNS HORRORS COMMITTED BY
REBELS AGAINST CIVILIANS (STANDARD, GENERAL) 
 
Only a few hours past between the presentation of a report by the MONUC (UN
Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo) on the atrocities committed by the rebels
in the east DR-Congo and the firm stand taken by the UN Security Council. The member
nations firmly condemned the crimes committed by the militias of the Congolese
Liberation Movement (MLC) of Jean-Pierre Bemba and allied armed groups in Ituri, a
north-eastern region theatre to unspeakable human rights violations between October
and December 2002, during the ferocious fighting for control of the area. The list of
crimes, certified by testimonies gathered by MONUC observers on the scene, includes
a shocking collection of horrors perpetrated against civilians: cannibalism, summary
executions, rape, murder and systematic pillaging. Yesterday afternoon the UN mission
representatives presented the report in Kinshasa, immediately provoking the firm stand
of the UN Security Council. A direct request arrived from the Council for Bemba to
assume responsibility for the security of the civilians in the territory under his control.
The UN Security Council also called on the MLC leader to ensure the immediate
cessation of the massacres and human rights violations and that those responsible for
these crimes be stopped. The UN leadership also declared that it will continue
monitoring the situation through inquiries conducted by the MONUC in the territory.
According to the UN Irin Agency, already yesterday Bemba ordered the arrest of five
of his men guilty of rape, theft and other crimes during the operations in Ituri,
including also Lieutenant Colonel Freddy Ngalimo that headed the military operations
in the region. The MLC however also underlined that no evidence has emerged from its
investigations of any involvement of its men in the acts of cannibalism denounced over
the past weeks by some civilians of the zone, also confirmed by the MONUC report. A
few days ago the leader of the MLC ordered the creation of an internal inquiry
commission to investigate into the crimes committed by his men. The militiamen of the
MLC are in fact the major suspects of the atrocities and crimes committed in the region.
In these same hours, as the MONUC report showed the world the atrocities perpetrated
for months particularly against the Nande population and Pigmei in the zone between
Mambasa and Beni the UN Human Rights Commissioner Sergio Vieira de Mello called
on Kinshasa authorities for an end to the culture of impunity in DR-Congo and for
justice for the many victims of the atrocities committed by the belligerents. (BO-Misna)

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