BelPres New Hope Revival families are facing the continued violence and discrimination in the South Congo against the Banyamulenge people. BelPres Church is partnering and journeying with the families who are overwhelmed with grief and fear for their relatives. To learn more about the Conflict in the Congo and how to get involved please read on.
This violence has a complicated historical background that centers around persistent hostility and distrust of the Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese in the region on the part of neighboring tribes. After the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, fleeing Hutu perpetrators and others belonging to the Interahamwe militias came into the South Kivu region and began spreading their poisonous hate speech about the Tutsis living there.
The Tutsis, called Abanyamulenge, have lived in that region for centuries. They have never lived in Rwanda, but the Hutus are spreading hate about them, and convincing the surrounding tribes that they don’t belong in Congo, and should be exterminated, calling them “cockroaches,” just as they did during the genocide in Rwanda. Since 1996, there have been repeated wars against the Abanyamulenge, and the current outbreak falls into that terrible pattern.
For several weeks, tribes around the Abanyamulenge have joined forces to encircle the Abanyamulenge, burning their houses, killing or looting their livestock, killing and maiming the people. Thousands have fled into the surrounding forests, and many have reached a city called Minembwe, where the MONUSCO (UN) forces are stationed. That city is now overwhelmed with a serious humanitarian crisis. They cannot provide shelter, food, water, medical help for the many who have sought refuge there.
Testimony Video Translation:
Based on the genocide in Minembwe, What kind of genocide? This genocide is just for the Banyamulenge people, children, fathers and mothers are being killed, and all our cattle’s and properties are deprived. The bad government of Congo is not helping us to prevent the attacks. Recently the representative of government was here (Minembwe) and said that the col will protect all people not to support onside but he is the one who supporting the militias and he is the one who is killing us. He is supporting the militias by giving them the guns and bullets. What is the request for you to protest, our request is to move this colonel here (Minembwe) because he is attacking people in the road here in Biziba, all women from all tribes are so sad to see how he is supporting militias and all Fuluro mans and women are surprised to see only young Banyumuleng are the only being targeted. To conclude, what are requesting, colonel himself said that he was sent by the president Tshisekedi, then we are asking him to tell us if president Tshisekedi is the one who want to kill us, even if its him we will not flee our country and he will not stayed in the country himself. We have tangible example of how this colonel is supporting the militia’s kills us.
Today on June 26, 2019, at “Voice of America” in Washington DC: (Reporting) Back in Minembwe, thousands of people fled their hometown due to the war between the Mai Mai and Banyamulenge Twirwaneho. The journalist of the “Voice of America” in Uvira, South Kivu, Vedast Ngabo will tell us in the details. The attacks the Mai Mai did cause thousands of people to flee from their different villages in Marango, they fled to the center of Madegu near the MONUSCO military camp and also to the office of the Commune Minembwe. People lied down in the front of the MONUSCO headquarters and Commune Minembwe’s office were mostly children and women. They said they left everything behind and everything was burned in their houses. Also, the Mai Mai militias killed their cattle with machetes.
One woman refugee said, “We left everything behind including food, even if you have money there is no place where we can go to buy food. We are here on the streets with children and we have nothing to feed them.” A second women refugee testified, “We fled in Madegu and we cried for the government but the government did nothing. Instead of helping us, they are mocking us. Our lives are in danger, we are struggling with children, now we are asking for help, please help us. Some children are separated from their parents. They do not know where their children are. Please help us to get back stability.” The Civil Society of Minembwe accused the colonel Katembo Onoré who is the commander of the Congolese army to support the Mai Mai instead of protecting the people in Minembwe who are being killed by the Mai Mai every single day. People said that this colonel said that he would never go into the war of ethnicities and that he is waiting for the order from Kinshasa for him to intervene. It has almost been a week since these attacks of the Mai Mai took place around the Minembwe area.
We have been requesting for help from the government military to protect civilians and their properties, but they did nothing until now. Many villages are burned to the ground: Rutigita, Masha, and Karongozi. People fled when they saw the enemy was close to the Madegu village and we saw soldiers stand up and try to fight. But my opinion is that colonel Katembo is compromised. When colonel Katembo saw that the center of Madegu was going to be taken by the Mai Mai, we went to stop them and there were also soldiers from the government that came from Mikenke into the territory of Mwenge. They came to support and prevent the Mai Mai from taking over the center of Madegu. The colonel soldiers refused to give them bullets and guns, and the fight started between the colonel Kantembo’s soldiers and the soldiers from Mikenke who come to help and prevent the Mai Mai from taking over the center of Madegu. The soldiers from Mikenke were mostly Banyamulenge and they knew that colonel Katambo wanted the Mai Mai to take over the center of Madegu so they can take all the control of military armory that was in the center of Madegu, so the Mikenke soldiers attacked colonel Kantembo’s soldiers to prevent that.
These recent attacks happened while in Uvira when there was a conference that was hosted by the governor of South Kivu. All members from the ethnicities in these conflicts were present at this conference along with different generals and ministers to see how they can end this war. The Banyamulenge members left the conference by request because of the hostilities in Minembwe and Bibogobogo and asked to stop the war before continuing to participate at the conference.