Although it occurred some weeks before, the execution/murder of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba only became public on February 13, 1961.
A week later, on February 20, pro-Lumumba forces in Stanleyville (today, Kisangani) shot approximately 15 prisoners in retaliation. Stanleyville was the headquarters of Lumumba ally Antoine Gizenga, whose enclave the late Lumumba had been trying to reach when he was captured. In the confused post-Lumumba days, Gizenga elevated himself to head of state for the rebellious Lumumbist state; 21 Communist-backed states would recognize this as Congo’s legitimate government, in opposition to the official one of Joseph Kasavubu.
Those suffering the Lumumba-backers’ wrath this date included ten politicians — notably Alfonse Songolo, a former Lumumbist minister who had prominently broken with that faction after Lumumba was deposed the previous autumn — plus five soldiers in the anti-Lumumba force of the bright young officer and future definitive author of Congolese horrors, Joseph-Desire Mobutu.
The London Times had reported (Feb. 23-24) that “usually well-informed sources” alleged the execution, but that the U.N. was unable itself to confirm the fact independently.
(Thanks to Meaghan Good of the Charley Project for the guest post. -ed.)
On this day in 2000, a 14-year-old boy from the Democratic Republic of the Congo was executed by firing squad only thirty minutes after his conviction by the Congolese Cour D’ordre Militaire, or Military Order Court. The teen, a child soldier known only as Kasongo, was found guilty with four other soldiers for the murder of a driver.
Amnesty International noted (pdf) that the DRC imposed the sentence in spite of the fact that it signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, both of which prohibit the death penalty for persons under the age of 18, and in spite of the fact that the DRC’s Minister for Human Rights had in 1999 promised a moratorium on executions.
Under Congolese law, those convicted by the Cour D’ordre Militaire can appeal to the President for clemency. Since Kasongo’s sentence was carried out so quickly, however, it’s doubtful the President heard his appeal.
In 2001, the DRC told the United Nations that all other child soldiers sentenced to death have been pardoned. Why Kasongo was excepted from this rule, no one knows. The military courts that convicted him were abolished in 2003.