Friday, July 27, 2007


JOURNAL MINEMBWE/Minembwe Development Newsletter

Main (USA)
Friday, July 27, 2007
On Friday, July 27 at 10:00 AM the Banyamulenge community of Maine representing all North American Banyamulenge Diaspora and local supporters will March from 35 Lafayette Street on Munjoy Hill to the offices of Maine’s Congressional delegation. The march aims to raise awareness, political and public support to stop the current ethnic cleansings of Tutsis in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Congolese government and the Interahamwe “the extremist military groups responsible for Rwandan 1994 genocide“have recently intensified efforts to exterminate Congolese Tutsis in the eastern region. Since 1994, Maine has been home to hundreds of Congolese Tutsi refugees, known as the Banyamulenge people.

The message is so simple. Stop genocide. Stop massacres, says Portland resident Georges Budagu, member of the Banyamulenge tribe.
These are our family being killed, our women and children being attacked. We want to get support from the international community and the United States government to end these senseless killings. We are Maine citizens now, and need our leaders to support us.

Budagu and others will ask Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins,and Representative Tom Allen to provide leadership in urging the United
States to forcefully condemn the ideology of genocide and ethnic cleansing being conducted by the Congolese government against the Congolese Tutsis, and to support prosecution in the International Criminal Court all those who are directing, as well as perpetrating violence against the Congolese Tutsis. The European Union, the
African Union and United Nations have previously spoken against this ongoing campaign of ethnic violence.

The Banyamulenge are Congolese Tutsis that have lived in the mountains of South Kivu in eastern Congo for over 300 years, and have suffered discrimination and persecution since Congo was colonized in the late 1800s. Since 1964, the Banyamulenge have been repeatedly attacked by the government and other neighboring ethnic groups.

Plans for recent attacks started in January, when recently-elected President Kabila ordered deployment of the Congolese military, with the Interahamwe, to the South Kivu Mountains to kill, rape, and pillage.
In April, Parliament representatives from Kivu asked the government to drive out the Banyamulenge from their homeland to make room for a military base in the region. Since June, violence and brutality have escalated. The government-directed coalition has burned over 18 villages in the mountains of South Kivu. Military groups are raping, looting,torturing, murdering and even eating those they kill. Over 10,000 Banyamulenge have fled into the forest and remain without food, shelter, medical assistance and without any humanitarian aid.

The Congolese government conducts this campaign of violence under the pretense of combating 47 alleged insurgents. However, the 8,000 national troops dispatched suggest a different motive. In ordering this violence, Kabila is attempting to fulfill his campaign promise to rid the Congo of all Congolese Tutsis, particularly the Banyamulenge. To confuse public opinion, nationally and internationally, Kabila has bribed General Patrick Masunzu, a Banyamulenge, to carry out this disguised plan to attack against Masunzu’s own people.

In 1996, 1998, 2002 and 2004, the Banyamulenge were massacred, robbed of their homes and goods, and the women and girls savagely raped. In August 2004, a coalition of Congolese soldiers, Interahamwe, and Hutu Burundi rebels (FNL), brutally killed 164 Banyamulenge refugees in the Gatumba refugee camp outside Bujumbura, Burundi, and maimed 161 more. Victims were hacked with machetes or burned to death. The petrators burned the food supply of the survivors.

The long-standing persecution of the Congolese Tutsis has created more than 50,000 Banyamulenge refugees worldwide. In addition to Maine, the Banyamulenge Diaspora is found in Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi, Kenya,Uganda, Canada, and throughout Europe, as well several other communities in the United States.


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