Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Wednesday said the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels active in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) allegedly killed hundreds of villagers and militia members and buried their bodies in mass graves, reported Reuters.
In its latest report, the human rights group cited several pieces of evidence including pictures, videos, testimonies, and satellite images to prove that the M23 rebels killed a number of civilians and kidnapped militiamen in the Kishishe village of Kivu province, between Nov. 2022 and Apr. 2023. The evidence proved the presence of 14 mass graves in the village.
“Congo, the United Nations, and the African Union need to address the mounting evidence that the M23 committed numerous killings in the village of Kishishe,” Clementine de Montjoye, the African region researcher of the HRW, said in a statement.
She added that there is an urgent need for the proper gathering of evidence, impartial investigations, and informing families about their missing loved ones.
The HRW said that the findings appear to be only a few of the total burial sites and called for proper exhumations and investigations into the killings.
In a statement, the M23 denied all the allegations and said that it was an attempt by the watchdog to ruin its image.
Furthermore, the HRW also restated accusations by the DRC government, UN experts, and other countries that the rebel group is getting back from Rwanda.
It said that Rwandan officials supporting the M23 rebels were complicit in war crimes, and urged the UN Security Council to include them and M23 rebel leaders in its sanctions list.
Rwanda continues to deny the accusations, which has led to a diplomatic spat with Congo.
In response to the report, the Rwandan government spokesperson Yolande Makolo said the government is not going to be intimidated by such campaigns of disinformation and distractions from ongoing regional peace efforts.