An investigation by Vice uncovers human rights violations committed by mercenaries of the Wagner Group. Together with local forces they are supposed to train, they rape and murder local civilians.
Julia Steers – Vice – May 19; 2021
The Wagner Group was hired to protect the population in the Central African Republic. However, they keep commiting abuses. The report points out fear, vengeance or pure bloodlust as motivations.
The stories of the victims reveal similarities : a civilian is suspected of cooperation with the rebels. After no evidence is found, the victim keeps being tormented, the pepetrators being intent on making her confess something she has not done and for which their suspicions are baseless.
In the process, the victim is gang-raped or tortured, as means to let her admit to cooperating with the rebels.
The interviews show that members of the Wagner Group took an active role in the rapes and tortures and even ordered one of the victims to be murdered after releasing her. The mercernaries rely on a system of impunity and need to silence anyone who could try to file a lawsuit or report to the press.
In order for the abuses to stop, the international community needs to be vocal about them. It needs to convey the message clearly that instructors, trainers or specialists, as Russian officials call them, are also responsible for setting the right example and training the local forces in terms of right conduct. The fact that those so-called “specialists” rape, torture and murder rather indicate that anything is possible and acceptable.
By allowing its nationals to adopt such a behavior without condemning it, Russia forsakes its image as a great power, with a rich culture and dynamic youth. On the long term, locals will associate Russia with the Wagner mercenaries and believe that any Russian is a potential rapist, torturer or murderer.
One can hope Russia to be prouder of its citizens and to better defend its national reputation.