Urgent action is needed and support to stop the slow genocide against the Banyamulenge community of South Kivu (DRC). Key actors - the UN, NGOs, governments – are responsible for preventing the killing of this vulnerable minority. Black Lives also Matter in the Congo!
First a poem about being in flight, being at war.
Banyamulenge Civilians beseiged for 18 months, fearful of the future.
With media attention rivetted on COVID-19, and lockdown in DRC, the Black Lives Matter protests have spread to the African continent. Yet a slow genocide of the Banyamulenge minority, is underway in South Kivu, almost unnoticed. According to best estimates, based on local information, between 2018 and 2020 over 300 Banyamulenge villages were burned, looted and razed to the ground, forcing the people out. The national army, FARDC, did not protect Banyamulenge civilians or villages from these attacks.The Kivu Security Tracker (KST) reports that since March 2019, at least 150,000 Banyamulenge IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) were forced by “…fighting between ethnic Tutsi Banyamulenge and Babembe, Bafulero and Banyindu militias", into ever-tinier areas around Minembwe, where they hav been beseiged since March 2019.
A Destroyed Banyamulenge Home
There is no humanitarian help at all. MSF recently was the last international organisation to quit Minembwe, when it became too unsafe. The only support comes from the local Eben Ezer University, which this appeal will support. With no passable roads, almost everything has to be flown in. The COVID-19 lockdown has closed the border, and journalists and researchers cannot get in. Inside their tiny ‘concentration camps’, unarmed Banyamulenge civilians lack even food, shelter and medical supplies. Those who try to leave the area to find food, are horribly attacked and killed. Their cattle – on which they have always depended – have been looted, sold by their enemies, the MaiMai, to buy yet more weapons. Besieged since March 2019, the Banyamulenge are now running out of hope. Ban Ki-Moon, former UN Secretary General, reminded us that starving civilians is a war crime. It is also one way to commit a slow genocide. This fund-raiser is to provide hope that the situation can still be turned around in time to avoid genocide.
Video from VoA on Killings of Banyamulenge in 2019.
Banyamulenge exiles and leadership have tried to stop this slow genocide before it is too late. In April 2020, Banyamulenge leaders sent an open letter to the UN Secretary General, António Guterres. In June they sent him two further petitions. Each time they demanded rapid action to “avert another genocide in the region, with the international community as bystanders”. Stopping genocide is an obligation on all states, since genocide is a crime against humanity.
The Banyamulenge are not immigrants, or invaders, as claimed by their enemies, but full Congolese citizens. They have been massacred with grim regularity: in 1964, 1996, 1998, 2004 and in 2017-2020. Previously the goal of such attacks seemed to be to drive the Banyamulenge into exile. Today, the goal seems to be extermination. The Banyamulenge need urgent action to stop these attacks, and to enable them to eat. What should be attacked instead of innocent civilians are the outdated, colonial ideas about separate 'Bantu' and 'Hamitic' African races. Everyone born in DRC is Congolese; all are brothers and sisters. All Black Lives Matter, also in the Congo! Please support this appeal with whatever you can. The situation is truly desperate. We thank you in advance for your support.
I am working with as many Banyamulenge in exile as possible, of all political persuasions, and from different countries (US, NL, Canada). Please support this initiative - every penny will go to supporting the Banyamulenge. That is a promise! All Black Lives Must Matter!