DRC: A new genocide in progress against the Congolese Tutsi?

DRC: A new genocide in progress against the Congolese Tutsi?

Attacks, most often fatal, are increasing from Ituri to South Kivu.

“Last Friday, February 16, while we held a press conference in Brussels to highlight the terrible violence suffered in particular by members of the Hema ethnic group in Ituri, 29 people, including women and children, were buried alive in this province in the northeast of the country”explains Maître Bernard Maingain, member of a collective of lawyers who has already drafted several complaints which have been filed with the auditor general and the Prosecutor of the Republic in Congo… in vain so far.

Massacres and attacks against members of the Hema, Tutsi or Banyamulenge ethnic groups in Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu are increasing. Every week attacks are reported and the group of lawyers has received hundreds of testimonies, supporting photos, on the multiple attacks suffered in villages often completely devastated after the passage of local militias.

Codeco militia accused

Messages arrive regularly to tell us that attacks are being prepared, continues Me Maingain. These whistleblowers also notify the Congolese army and, most often, the peacekeepers of MONUSCO. Despite these calls, local militias, especially members of the Codeco movement in Ituri, carry out their attacks and massacre civilians without being threatened.”

Codecos can act without being worried”, continues a member of civil society from the territory of Djugu, in Ituri. “They benefit from the complicity of the Congolese army”continues our witness who recalls that “These militiamen were notably used by the government to secure voter registration offices ahead of the legislative and presidential elections in December. Every time they attack, the Congolese army is strangely absent. It has become very dangerous to go to the fields around our villages and even refugee camps.”

Like in 1994

Exactly thirty years after the start of the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, history seems to stutter in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, against a backdrop of war between the Congolese army and the M23, which occupies large swaths of the territory of these three provinces in the east of the country and which is today at the gates of Goma, the capital of North Kivu.

There are obvious and catastrophic similarities between the events of 1994 and the current situation, it is the same hate speeches and the same chants that we hear. The difference is that pogroms are more open today than back then. There are also these hate messages which are multiplying, we have received images of instructions painted on the walls of houses inhabited by Tutsi. There is still the slogan “Zero Tutsi” which is spreading,” continues Me Maingain, who also underlines the responsibility of an international community which “minimizes events as was the case in 1994”.

Several witnesses also point to the responsibility of the special representative of the UN Secretary General in the DRC, Mrs. Bintou Keita, accused of “not taking responsibility.”She has everything in hand to denounce the facts and put pressure on the authorities in Kinshasa”, continues our member of civil society from Djugu. “In our province, Codeco members enjoy total impunity. How do you want to restore calm and peace if the aggressors are never worried by the authorities and if they are sometimes even used by Kinshasa?

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