NGO: Soldiers raping pygmies
Kigali - Government troops sodomised pygmies in March in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), believing they would gain supernatural powers, a regional rights group said on Saturday.
"Some soldiers from the 85th Brigade sodomised three male pygmies to gain supernatural powers and protection in Kisa village in Walikale territory (North Kivu province)," said the Human Rights League of the Great Lakes (LDGL).
"The village chief was stripped and (sodomised) in the presence of his wife, his children and daughter in-law," said the LDGL, which groups dozens of rights groups in Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC.
"The children in turn were stripped and raped in front of their father," said the group in a report.
It said armed groups in the region also abused the pygmies.
"The elderly, children are being raped by the armed groups and wayward FARDC (government) soldiers" in eastern DRCongo, it added.
The pygmies live essentially as subsistence hunter-gatherers in the forests in the DRC's equatorial zones and have been targeted by militia groups in the past.
Among the armed groups roaming the eastern part of Congo are the Rwandan Hutu Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels.
Some of its members are accused of being among the main perpetrators of Rwanda's 1994 genocide by Hutus against the Tutsi minority.
The United Nations and global human rights organisations have accused the FDLR of engaging in mass murder, rape and pillage of locals' property.