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DRC Army Unit Desecrating Corpses Aided by UN After Rapes, US Trained

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 20 -- The unit of the Congolese Army implicated this week in the desecration of corpses, the 391st Battalion is the same one the the UN continued to support after its involvement in 135 rapes in Minova in November 2012, and was trained by the United States in Kisangani.

After UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous refused Inner City Press questions for months about which units committed the Minova rapes, video here, the 391st and 41st Battalion were finally named.

   Ladsous however decided to continue supporting them after the suspension of a dozen officers and arrest of only two soldiers for rape.

   On July 16 at the UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked about Congolese Army mistreatment of prisoners and desecration of corpses, shown by photographic evidence, asking if these complied with the Geneva Conventions. (Ladsous' DPKO refuses to answer if its MONUSCO mission in the Congo is now covered by the Geneva Convention. The answer must be yes, as its Intervention Brigade is a party to an armed conflict.)

  Nesirky said he hadn't seen the photograph, would check, with DPKO. Nothing was said that day, but the next day the UN expressed concern.

    Then DR Congo's Information Minister Lambert Mende announced there had been an arrest, naming the officer as Lt Solomo Bangala “who had been fighting on the frontline in the 391st Battalion... He was transferred into the hands of military judicial officials for the desecration of enemy corpses," Mende said.

   Nothing was said or reported that this is the same 391st Battalion that Ladsous' UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations decided to continue supporting after the Minova rapes.

  So what is the responsibility of Ladsous, who recently bragged in Sudan about keeping the corpse of a slain assailant, in what the 391st Battalion has done since?

  What is the responsibility or at least lessons learned of the United States, which trained the 391st Battalion and, this coming week, will hold a Security Council debate about DR Congo and the Great Lakes, chairs by Secretary of State John Kerry? Is this the type of issue on which new US envoy Russ Feingold should have something to say? Watch this site.

Footnote: Beyond the desecration of corpses, the Group of Experts report the full text of which Inner City Press exclusively put online in June names other FARDC units involved in rape, looting, arming of the FDLR and recruitment of child soldiers.

  For three weeks now Ladsous' four spokespeople have refused to say which of these units the MONUSCO mission supports. Ladsous' DPKO should be required to disclose this information, particularly now that it's shown that his failure to implement the UN's statement Human Rights Due Diligence Policy led to continued UN support to a unit which they desecrated corpses.


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