According to local authorities and witnesses, police in the eastern Congolese city of Beni detained dozens of people and fired rounds to disperse protesters demanding the withdrawal of UN peacekeeping missions for failing to stop bloodshed in the region.
Hundreds of young people in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been protesting for days, saying they are angry that a UN mission known as Monusco has failed to stop civilian killings by armed groups.
“We demand only two things: to leave Monsanto and for the Congolese government to take over its responsibilities so that we can maintain peace,” said Clovis Mutsoa, a member of the youth group Lucher.
About 330 people have died so far this year in the violence, according to the Kivu protection tracker on the map of unrest in the region.
“The youth have barricaded almost all the roads to tell the UN mission to leave the region in the grip of genocide,” Beni Mayor Modest Buhindo Bakwanamaha told Reuters news agency.
Bakwanamaha added, “Police are clearing the blocked roads this morning, which is why shootings are going on all over the city.”
Here is what is happening in Beni. Tell me who is violent. @ Monsanto , @ComgenPunk , Fardisi_ , Register , Register , USMBDRC @ YukindRC Retweet On Twitter Do you approve of it? pic.twitter.com/9xzfErY9WR
– War ?? (@LuchaRDC) April 8, 2021
Eyewitnesses told Reuters that heavy gunfire erupted around 7am (Thursday 05:00 GMT) and could be heard until the evening.
Authorities cleared the barricades and arrested about 600 people, local police spokesman Nasan Murara said. “We got the situation under control after a very rough day.”
‘Acting or packing up’
At least one protester was seriously injured in the shooting, Lucha said. The number of casualties could not be confirmed individually.
“Today is a violent protest in Benaya, Goma [and] Butembo is a violation of human rights, ”said Thomas Fassi, a senior DRC researcher at Human Rights Watch, who called for the immediate release of those arrested.
“People of the East[e]rn Congo is tired of relentless violence [and] The killings, especially in the #Beni area. They have the right to march peacefully at the behest of the state [and] UN peacekeepers can protect civilians. ”
“We condemn the ineffectiveness of UN forces, Monsanto, which has an offensive mission but has failed to do anything for years. Monsco either has to act or pack up, “said Depal Bakulu, a civil society activist in Beni. Dr. In a protest earlier this month.
“We want to unite national and international views in the face of this tragedy.”
In response to the protest, Monsanto spokesman Matthias Gilman said on Wednesday: “We are here at the invitation of the government. We decide that we don’t exist. ”
Monsanto took over from the previous peacekeeping mission in 2010. About 12,000 troops have been deployed, mostly in the mineral-rich east of the country, where more than twice as many people have been killed in the past year.
In December 2019, there were quite a few people Killed Protesters in Beni and Goma took to the streets to call for the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers, accusing them of failing to protect them from deadly insurgent attacks.
The DRC has more than a hundred rebel groups, including the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), before the unrest. The ADFT emerged in the 1990s to establish a so-called “Islamic State” in western Uganda.
According to Kivu Security Tracker, the group has killed more than 1,200 civilians in the Beni region since 2013 alone.
On March 19, the United Nations said about 200 people had died in ADF attacks since the beginning of the year and 40,000 had been forced to flee their homes.
There were at least 23 people Killed by suspected fighters from the group Last week at Beu Manaima-Molisso village in Beni region. Separate attacks on March 23 killed 17 more people.
Last year, the United Nations said the group’s attacks could constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes.