A military tribunal in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has charged six soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) following the deaths of individuals during anti-UN demonstrations on August 30. The soldiers, including two senior officers, face multiple charges such as crimes against humanity and inciting military personnel to commit acts contrary to their official duties.
The protests, organized by a religious sect named Wazalendo, took place in Goma and were directed against the UN peacekeeping mission, the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO). The demonstrations turned violent when the military forces responded, resulting in the death of 56 people and the injury of 75 others.
Among the defendants is Mike Mikombe, head of the elite Republican Guard. The charges against him and the five others include crimes against humanity by murder, wicked destruction, and inciting military personnel to commit acts contrary to duty and discipline. The military tribunal in North Kivu is yet to deliver any convictions.
The response of the FARDC to the anti-UN demonstrations has been widely condemned by human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), and the UN itself. HRW described the actions of the soldiers as “callous” and “unlawful,” while the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ravina Shamdasani, expressed extreme alarm over the deaths of protestors. She emphasized that people have the right to express themselves freely and assemble peacefully, even in protest against the United Nations.
MONUSCO, one of the largest peacekeeping missions in the world, authorizes the UN to use all necessary means to protect civilians, humanitarian personnel, and human rights defenders under imminent threat of physical violence. Despite these efforts, conflict has persisted in the DRC for the past three decades.