DRC Death Penalty Against Soldiers Fleeing M23 (Rwanda)

DRC Death Penalty Against Soldiers Fleeing M23 (Rwanda)

Kanako Mita and Chika Yoshida

Modern Tokyo Times

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) announced the death penalty on 25 soldiers. This concerns them fleeing the Tutsi-led M23 insurgents.

Other judgments were made against the condemned soldiers. Accordingly, it was said they also stole goods from ordinary people – while fleeing the battle zone.

The BBC reports, “In March, the government lifted a moratorium, in place for more than 20 years, on the death penalty being carried out after the justice minister cited the need to remove “traitors” from the army.”

Millions of people continue to be uprooted in the provinces of Ituri, North Kivi, and South Kivu in this part of the DRC. This is related to the convulsions of so many ethnic, religious, political, and terrorist groups.

M23 insurgents recently took the important town of Kanyabayonga. Hence, with the M23 being in control of this town, the fear is that Butembo and Beni will feel the convulsions of this strategic loss.

France 24 reports, DR Congo‘s mineral-rich east has been racked for 30 years by fighting between both local and foreign-based armed groups, going back to regional wars of the 1990s.”

In May, eight DRC soldiers were also sentenced to death for “fleeing the enemy” in Goma and for “cowardice.”

Rwanda – despite countless denials – supports the M23. However, the reasons are complex because Rwanda seeks to protect the Tutsi and the Kinyarwanda-speaking minorities of this part of the DRC.

Accordingly, given the massacres of the Tutsi by Hutu extremists in Rwanda in 1994 (approximately 800,000 Tutsi were killed in 100 days), the government of Rwanda is focused on the role of Hutu forces (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda – FDLR) in the DRC. 

Lee Jay Walker (Modern Tokyo Times analyst) says, “The DRC is blessed (it seems like a curse) by abundant natural resources. Hence, similar to Balochistan (Pakistan) and other parts of the world, major international players involve themselves in complex regional issues. Therefore, China is supporting the DRC and Pakistan national governments despite severe internal problems.”

The New York Times reports, “Making sense of the mayhem is not easy. Over 100 armed groups and several national armies are vying for supremacy across a region of lakes, mountains and rainforests slightly bigger than Florida. Meddlesome foreign powers covet its vast reserves of gold, oil and coltan, a mineral used to make cellphones and electric vehicles. Corruption is endemic. Massacres and rape are common.”

The DRC faces countless pressing problems. Hence, concerning the crisis in the eastern part of the country, it is incumbent on the DRC and Rwanda to focus on dialogue.

The death penalty – given the poorly armed and trained reality on the ground – is out of step with what is required to galvanize central forces.

It is hoped that the DRC will commute the sentences and then withdraw the death penalty against embattled soldiers.

Honest brokers are needed to build bridges between the DRC and Rwanda. Ultimately, unlike the threat of ADF Islamic terrorists and others, the M23 and FDLR issues can be solved by national governments if compromises are made.

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