- May 15, 2021
When an attack occurs in eastern Congo, the main causes are believed to be the illegal exploitation of mineral resources, competition for land and politics. But forced Islamization — linked to extremists with ties to the Islamic State group — is emerging as a new twist in violence in the mineral-rich provinces, said the country’s Catholic bishops.
Catholic bishops in the Democratic Republic of Congo “deplore” that the human rights situation in the country has worsened in recent months under President Felix Tsisekedi, especially since initial progress was made when the president came to power three years ago.
As they mourned the killing of the Italian ambassador to their country, Congo’s Catholic bishops said the nation’s deaths, massacres, kidnappings and displacement underlined the toxic state of security, especially in the mineral-rich eastern regions.
Several prominent officials in the Congolese Bishops’ Conference have voiced sadness over an incident earlier this week that left Italy’s ambassador to the country and two others dead, stressing the need to do more to promote peace.
A leading Catholic aid agency has condemned what it calls “cyclical violence and continuing human rights abuses targeting civilian populations in North Kivu and Ituri Provinces” of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
A Congolese bishop has urged international action to stem massacres in his diocese and accused the country’s government and media of indifference to current sufferings.
Catholic bishops in Congo are calling for a special international criminal court to try people suspected of mass killings and human rights abuses in the African country, where thousands of women and girls have been raped by armed men.
Congolese bishops are expressing solidarity with Denis Mukwege, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning gynecologist who has received death threats over his continued call for justice and accountability over war crimes.