By Georges Budagu Makoko
This week I talked to many contacts in DR Congo, and they all reported that the situation on the ground is dire. Threats of a final extermination of Tutsis that is widely believed to be imminent – some say scheduled to begin on June 25 – are circulating widely, and cities and villages that house Tutsis are on high alert. Hate speech against Tutsi has been flooding social media. Videos show people sharpening their machetes and gathering weapons, as they prepare to kill Tutsis.
In Congo, people say this feels like a repeat of what occurred in 1996, 1998, and 2004, when masses of Tutsis perished in different cities around the country. And images coming out DR Congo in recent weeks of brutal killings confirm that violence is in the air. All of this is terribly concerning and requires fast action from the US government and the international community.
I talked to Richard Munyentwari, the President of Mahoro Maine Association of the Banyamulenge Community in Maine. He stated that since 2017, thousands of Banyamulenge have been internally and externally displaced and are living in critical conditions due to lack of humanitarian aid. The only organization that has being supplying food and medical supplies to them is Mahoro Peace Association, the international organization of the Banyamulenge Diaspora.
More than 8,000 Banyamulenge have settled in the U.S. after fleeing persecution in the Congo; 300 live in Maine. For the last 5 years, they have been calling on the Congolese government and the international community to stop the genocide against the Banyamulenge, to no avail. Munyentwari stated that the current killings have taken a terrible turn and spread all over the country and are now affecting all Tutsi in the Congo. He said that he is dismayed by the hate speech and the killings and also by the silence of the Congolese government, and the international community, which have continued to watch innocent people dying every day.
Munyentwari said that there are some Congolese government officials and military leaders who have openly called on militia groups to rise up and kill Tutsis. He gave as an example General Yav Avula Ngola Robert, the Southern Kivu regional commandant who called on the Mai Mai militia to rise up and kill Tutsi. He said General Yav must be held accountable for his hate speech and the crimes resulting from his message to kill innocent people.
Munyentwari said that he is in contact with people in Congo who told him that this Saturday, June 25, all Mai Mai militia and citizens supported by the army are being mobilized to try and exterminate every Tutsi present on the soil of DR Congo. The town of Minembwe was attacked on June 23, and many other villages have been surrounded by militia ready to destroy them. He asked the US government and the international community to take immediate action before it is too late.
Munyentwari concluded by expressing his heartfelt expression of condolences to family members who have lost their loved ones through the violence of the last few years. He said that he hopes an emergency rescue plan will save innocent people in the Congo and that serious sanctions against the Congolese government are applied to punish its failure to protect innocent