Bukavu August 24, 2020 — Statement on the Anniversary of the Kasika Massacre
On the occasion of the commemoration of the Kasika massacre and out of a duty to remember, I would like to take part, once again, in the grief of the families of the victims and of the entire population of Kasika.
Indeed, as documented in the United Nations mapping report:
“On August 24, 1998, ANC/APR soldiers massacred more than a thousand civilians, including many women as well as children and babies in the villages of Kilungutwe, Kalama and Kasika, in the territory of Mwenga, 108 kilometers from Bukavu. Before being killed, most of the women were raped, tortured, and had their genitals mutilated. The massacre was organized in retaliation for the death on August 23 of some 20 ANC/APR officers in an ambush by Mayi-Mayi on the road between Bukavu and Kindu. Many bodies of children and babies were thrown into the latrines. Before leaving, the soldiers looted the three villages and set fire to many homes.”
The Mwami of Lwindi, François Mubeza was assassinated, and his wife, pregnant with twins, was disembowelled.
According to the Bulletin of the Swiss Catholic Portal, “the soldiers killed Father Stanislas Wabulakombe, vicar of the parish, as well as three nuns from the Congregation of the Daughters of the Resurrection, a seminarian, and several other lay parishioners.”
This massacre of Kasika, whose cruel nature is beyond imaginable, illustrates the intention of the perpetrators to destroy not only human lives but also the symbolic referents of an entire people to mark them forever.
Twenty-two years after these atrocities, both national and international justice systems are dragging their feet on these heinous crimes and the perpetrators remain unpunished.
How can our world keep such a heavy silence in the face of such barbarism?
Yet this massacre is rigorously and professionally documented by United Nations experts in paragraph 353 of the 617 serious human rights violations listed in the mapping report. Some can be characterized as crimes against humanity, war crimes, and even crimes of genocide.
The consequence is that for more than two decades, cycles of violence have mourned our country in particular because of the impunity enjoyed by the instigators and the executioners.
It is more than urgent that the recommendations of the mapping report be implemented to break the reign of impunity and put an end to this violence.
Without truth and justice there will be no lasting peace in DR Congo and neither the victims nor the torturers will be able to rebuild a peaceful future for future generations.
-Dr. Denis Mukwege