The 19th Annual Commemoration of the Gatumba Massacre in Burundi will be held August 11 – 13 in Portland. The commemoration is organized by the Gatumba Refugee Survivor Foundation (GRSF) in collaboration with Mahoro Peace Association (MPA).

Friday, August 11.: A Walk to Remember. Meet at Portland City Hall at 1:00 p.m. and walk together to the offices of Senator Collins and Congresswoman Pingree.

Saturday, August 12: A memorial event with testimonies and presentations at the Sheraton Hotel at 200 Sable Oaks, South Portland.

The Gatumba massacre took place on August 13, 2004. The victims were Banyamulenge refugees living in a refugee camp in Burundi. More than 166 innocent children, women, and men were killed and more than 200 were wounded in the massacre, which sent shockwaves throughout the Banyamulenge community worldwide, including those living in Maine, which is home to more than 400 Banyamulenge who resettled here after escaping violence.

The Banyamulenge refugees, who are Congolese Tutsi, were targeted because of their ethnicity. They were massacred while under the protection of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).  A joint report by the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC), the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) dated October 18, 2004, concluded that the attack was clearly directed against members of the Banyamulenge community and was by all appearances ethnically and politically motivated.

Nineteen years after the Gatumba massacre, justice has still not been served, and the Banyamulenge community worldwide continues to live in sorrow and dread because of ongoing genocide and the continuing lack of accountability for violent crimes against innocent civilians.

Over the past five years ethnic cleansing of the Banyamulenge has intensified. More than 300 people have been killed, mostly women, children, and old people who have been burned alive. 400 villages have been burned, more than 400,000 cattle looted, and 90% of the land where the Banyamulenge previously lived has been abandoned. On July 23, 2020, Genocide Watch stated that the genocidal effort against the Banyamulenge had entered the penultimate stage.

The Gatumba Survivor Foundation in collaboration with Mahoro Peace are calling for community members and friends from all over the state to join them in Portland in advocating for justice and remembering the legacy of the people who lost their lives on August 13, 2004, in Burundi.