Pygmies are victims in Congo atrocities

December 31, 2002

This page was created in 2002 and may contain language which is now outdated.

'Pygmy' tribespeople are among the victims of the horrific atrocities which have recently been reported as taking place in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

A United Nations investigation team has been told by witnesses that anti-government militias belonging to the Congolese Liberation Movement and the Congolese Rally for Democracy-National have committed atrocities including torture, mutilation, rape of women and children, summary executions and kidnappings. These atrocities are alleged to have taken place in Ituri and North Kivu provinces, as part of an operation called 'wipe the slate'.

Many of the victims are Mbuti 'Pygmies', the most defenceless of all the local peoples. The militias are said to be forcing the Mbuti to help them, or accusing them of helping their enemies, for which they torture and kill them. Among the estimated 180,000 people fleeing the violence, there are thought to be 3,000 ‘Pygmies.’ These tribes are particularly vulnerable: they are consistently the most marginalised and oppressed people in Congolese society, and their plight often fails to attract the same attention as that of other peoples.