Funerals held for victims of DR Congo anti-UN rally shootings

Three weeks after the tragic killing of over 50 civilians during a confrontation with troops in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the families of the victims were finally able to conduct burials for their loved ones on Monday evening.

An August 30th crackdown by Congolese soldiers on demonstrators protesting the presence of UN peacekeepers in the country led to a minimum of “57 casualties,” according to Interior Minister Peter Kazadi.

On Monday, Kazadi journeyed to Goma to meet with the families of the victims and supervise the burial proceedings.

He stated that the bodies, which had been deteriorating in a Goma military hospital for 20 days, presented “health risks.” Family members were not allowed to visit until September 12th.

“The government provided the coffins,” paid for the funeral expenses and “gave an envelope to console the families”, the minister told reporters.

Arriving at dusk amid heavy rainfall in a cemetery on the outskirts of Goma, the minister paid his respects to the victims before four white coffins.

Following his departure, the remaining coffins were transported by trucks, accompanied by the odor of decomposing bodies.

With the help of cemetery personnel, family members carried the coffins of their beloved deceased across a muddy field to a series of gravesites. Illuminated by the light from cell phones, they tenderly laid their loved ones to rest.

The United Nations earlier this month demanded an independent probe into the killings, insisting “that measures are put in place to ensure that future demonstrations are policed in line with international human rights standards.”

In Goma, six Republican Guard soldiers, including two high-ranking officers, are currently facing trial for charges related to crimes against humanity and failure to adhere to orders.

The UN rights office reported that a minimum of 43 individuals, including a police officer, had lost their lives, and 75 others had been injured when the troops forcefully quelled the protest organised by a religious sect.

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