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Maluku residents demand justice for their lost relatives

Maluku residents demand justice for their lost relatives

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Some families whose relatives have gone missing since a mass grave was discovered in Maluku are demanding justice for their lost relatives.

Security forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo on the night of March 18 2015, secretly dug a mass grave at a cemetery on the edge of the capital Kinshasa and dumped scores of bodies inside.

The government only admitted to the presence of the mass grave after Maluku residents complained about a foul stench in the area. Government officials then said 421 bodies of unidentified persons, stillborns and poor people whose families could not afford their burial had been buried in the grave.

It makes me feel very bad. That's my son. I carried him for nine months in my womb. My son, I don't even know where he is. Every night I cry.

This claim has however been contested by some who say the bodies in the grave are those of people who were summarily executed or have disappeared.

Scores of people were said to have disappeared when the police carried out an exercise codenamed “Operation Likofi”. Others also disappeared when the police cracked down on demonstrators in January 2015.

A Kinshasa resident whose 12-year-old brother went missing during the January 2015 demonstrations is demanding the exhumation of the bodies in the mass grave as he believes his younger brother could be among the dead.

“Because we don’t know where he is. He is believed to be there … he was buried there. It was the government who arrested and took away my brother,” RFI quoted him as saying.

RFI also quoted a mother who said she has been having sleepless nights since her son went missing.

“It makes me feel very bad. That’s my son. I carried him for nine months in my womb. My son, I don’t even know where he is. Every night I cry,” she said.

Civil society organizations, rights groups and the international community have been pressuring the DRC government to make public a report on the alleged summary executions and enforced disappearances.

Kinshasa has also been asked to reveal the identities of those buried in the Maluku mass grave.

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