Wednesday, August 26, 2015


For more than a decade, the political officials from the Banyamulenge community had a total amnesie concerning their homeland. Motivated by shame and embarrassment, our politicians are awakening to a social consciousness, despite the fact that they had been quite obliviant to the community demand and pressure asking them to invest just a little bit of their resources in their homeland's basic infrastructure. 
Minembwe is for sure in the process of economic growth. So, it makes sens that everyone is interested in building his house there. This is totally an act of zeal for one's homeland as much as it is a maratton to snap whatever is still available to grab.
Nonetheless, we command their long overdue initiative as hope that it is not another show for the photo outlook.
Although the Banyamulenge society by in large did not have a big issue of hunger and access to basic education as it is often the case in many other African rural communities, we can however state that Mulenge has always suffered  improved health, and access to safe water, sanitation lack of roads not to mention basic civic services that other communities enjoys. These any many more are definitely inputs to economic growth and further development of any society.
One cannot fail to mention how Mulenge has never been empowered with human capital, infrastructure, and core human rights particularly for women, and children, mostly girls.
The sad reality is that although Mulenge has contributed immensely in the national economic and human development of the DRCongo, the DRC government through its extremist officials has always made sure that Mulenge is never developed. It is well known that Mulenge produce a lot of minerals, and beef that contribute to the economic growth of the region. It should also be noted that the security force of the DRC government is largely due to the strong and brave sons of Mulenge who occupies high military and security rangs within the Congolese national force.
Although this has been a double sword for Banyamulenge people. Nonetheless, the Congolese officials, dominated by extremists have always managed to ensure that there will be no government funded initiative for infrastructure, health, and better education widely available in Mulenge since the independence. This did not change even when some of the sons of  Mulenge such as Azarias Ruberwa who was once the Vice President of the DRC, Bizima Karaha, who was once the minister of foreigner affaires, Moise Nyarugabo who is still a Senator, not to mention few who were ministers and under secretary in various ministries. Despite the fact that these individuals ascended to power and had access to the decision making institutions did so little if not nothing to uplift their mother-land Mulenge from poverty and isolation.
What is even so sad and embarrassing is that all the prominent Banyamulenge politicians have not even build their homes in their own villages. But have built their houses in various capital cities in Africa.  In fact, until recently they rarely even visited their motherland
But thank God things seem to be slowly changing. There are few people now who are securing productive and decent employment through personal initiative. Many people have started flowing into Minembwe for many what seems to be mainly religious events. But in a way, this slowly promotes economic growth, raise living standards, and increase technological sophistication of Mulenge.
Recently, we learned that finally the Mulenge political leaders are opening up their eyes and realized that they are the last one to demonstrate their interest and actions for Mulenge development. As a competitive act, they all came to symbolically lay their foundation stone in Minembwe. It remains to be seen whether they will seriously follow through with construction.
However, for those of you who hearts and minds are for the development of Mulenge, these are some of the initiatives that you may consider undertaking to develop our mother land:
The essential infrastructure services include:
  • Safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
  • A sustainably managed and conserved natural environment (we need more trees).
  • Farm inputs, including soil nutrients, reliable water for agriculture, and improved seed varieties, plus vaccines, veterinary pharmaceuticals, and feed and fodder for livestock.
  • Energy, including electricity and safe cooking fuels.
  • Paved roads and transport services that are safe and reliable, including motorized options.
  • Modern information and communications technology.
Further more, the following should also not be left out:

·        Equal rights, including reproductive rights, for women and girls.
  • Freedom from violence, especially for girls and women.
  • A political voice for every citizen, often through civil society organizations.
  • Equal access to public services.
Otherwise the sad reality is that: in Mulenge, adults are dying of AIDS and tuberculosis, without hope of treatment. Farmers toil but do not even produce enough food to feed their families because most of them are old people. The entire youth population has left the area.  In Minembwe area, the soils were long ago depleted of nutrients, especially nitrogen. The rains fail, and there is no backup irrigation.
We need a concerted and much more coordinated effort for the development of Mulenge, not just religious events that seem to be like a competition among religious leaders.


                 Akim Muhoza

Thursday, August 13, 2015



Ottawa, Thursday August 13th, 2015

Today the Ottawa/Gatineau Banyamulenge Community as elsewhere else around the world commemorate the Gatumba massacre for the eleventh year. It was the night of August 13, 2004 that armed men surprisingly attacked the Congolese Banyamulenge refugees while sleeping in their camp and murdered 166 and left hundreds more wounded. Most of them were asleep when the attackers came from the Congo, speaking, according to witnesses: Kirundi, Kinyarwanda and Swahili but also attacked the targeted camp. Armed with bladed weapons, automatic rifles, incendiary grenades, they managed to commit their planned carnages peacefully in two hours. They then doused in gasoline and set fire to the shelters in which these refugees had tried to hide. The survivors of the massacre tell of a deluge of fire. Two hours without the Burundian police and the battalion of the Burundian army, whose camps were located within just a kilometer could intervene, but chose not to.

Gatumba, located midway on the road between the capital of Burundi, Bujumbura and the DRC border town, Uvira, was one of three border transit camps in western Burundi that hosted some 20 000 Congolese from fleeing a rebellion in the South Kivu province in the course of 2004.

In the weeks that followed, several reports including the UN and Human Rights Watch say that the massacre had been carefully planned, that it was well Tutsi Congolese (Banyamulenge) and no other ethnic groups were targeted because other camps around had been spared. In the aftermath of the attack, Pasteur Habimana, the Burundian rebel spokesman of the National Liberation Front (FNL) of Agathon recently presidential candidate and promoted to vice Chairman of the Burundian National Assembly had publicly claimed responsibility on local and international des radios , before retracting. Facing the death toll, the United Nations Security Council condemned the massacre and called on the Burundian Government to conduct an investigation to find and punish the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. The organizations of civil society and representatives of the Banyamulenge community were mobilized in this direction. "Unfortunately these initiatives of call for international justice have been unsuccessful.  So far no official indictment or initiative to arrest the two individuals who claimed responsibility for the massacre has been issued yet by any international bodies. As such, members of the Ottawa / Gatineau Banyamulenge community  gathered for the occasion herein Heron Road Community Centre of Ottawa (1480 Heron Road), strongly condemn the selective Gatumba massacre and all other forms of violence targeting the Banyamulenge people wherever they are, "said president of the community, Mr. Ruhara. He further  insisted, saying: "we reiterate our commitment to peace in South Kivu in particular and the entire sub-region of the Great Lakes in general and ask the Canadian government and the international community to:

• Conduct an investigation to shed light on the Gatumba massacre;

• Make every effort to identify and bring the perpetrators to justice •

• Apprehend Mr. Agatho Rwasa and bring him before the competent courts for having publicly claimed responsibility for the massacre in its movement;

• Establish mechanisms of reintegrating the victims into their families.

• Ensure that the responsibility to protect individually and collectively falls on all those who were in a position to protect these refugees, especially considering they were under the protection of UNHCR;

• Coordinate concerted action with the victims' families for a better recovery and reintegration into community life "

                Ruhara Boniface

                  Community Representative

The Ottawa /Gatineau Banyamulenge  Community.

By Achim



Le 13/ 08/ 2015 Ottawa, Canada

Aujourd’hui la Communauté Banyamulenge d’Ottawa  comme partout ailleurs à  travers le monde commémore le massacre de Gatumba onze ans après. C’est dans la nuit du 13  Aout 2004 que  des  hommes armés ont surpris les réfugiés dans leur sommeil et assassinés 166, laissant des centaines d'autres blessés. La plupart d’entre eux   étaient couchés quand des assaillants venus du Congo, parlant, selon les témoins, kirundi, mais aussi kinyarwanda et swahili ont attaqué le camp. Munis d’armes blanches, fusils automatiques, grenades incendiaires, ils parvinrent à commettre leurs fortraits dans toute quiétude deux heures durant. Ils ont ensuite aspergé de l’essence  et mis le feu sur les abris dans lesquels ces  réfugiés avaient voulu se cacher. Les survivants du massacre parlent d’un déluge de feu.  Deux heures sans que la brigade de la gendarmerie et le bataillon de l’armée burundaise, dont les camps étaient situés dans un rayon d’un kilomètre à peine, ne puissent intervenir.
Gatumba, situé à mi-chemin sur la route entre la capitale du Burundi, Bujumbura, et la ville frontalière de RDC, Uvira, était  l’un des trois camps de transit à la frontière ouest du Burundi qui avait accueilli quelque 20 000 Congolais venant de fuir une rébellion dans la province du Sud Kivu dans le courant de l’année 2004. Ce camp abritant plus de 860 refugiés fut pourtant le seul à subir l’attaque meurtrière qui fait 166 morts et des centaines des blessés.
Dans les semaines qui ont suivi, plusieurs rapports et notamment de l’ONU et de Human Rights Watch affirment que ce massacre avait été soigneusement planifié, que c’étaient bien les Banyamulenge congolais et non pas d’autres ethnies qui avaient été visés puisque lesautres camps situés autour avaient été épargnés. Au lendemain de l’attaque, Pasteur Habimana, le porte-parole des rebelles burundais du Front national de libération (FNL) d’Agathon dernièrement promu au poste de vice-président de l’assemblée nationale burundaise avait publiquement revendiqué  cette attaque sur des radios locales et internationales, avant de se rétracter. Face à l`ampleur du massacre, le conseil de sécurité des nations unies a condamné le massacre et demande au gouvernement Burundais de diligenter une enquête afin de retrouver et punir les coupables de ces crimes odieux. Les organisations de la société civile et des représentants de la communauté Banyamulenge se sont  mobilisés dans ce sens. « Fort malheureusement toutes ces initiatives  pour une justice internationale sont  restées sans effet. Aucune initiative officielle  visant à poursuivre les couples au niveau  des instances internationales n`est amorcée à ce jour. 
A ce titre, les membres de la Communauté Banyamulenge d` Ottawa/Gatineau réunis pour la circonstance au centre des services communautaires Heron d’Ottawa (1480 Heron Road) Condamnons  vigoureusement le massacre sélectif  de Gatumba et toutes autres formes de violences visant les Banyamulenge ou qu’ìls se trouvent », a déclaré Ruhara président de la communauté Banyamulenge d’Ottawa/Gatineau. Il a encore insisté en disant « nous réitérons notre engagement en faveur de la paix au Sud- Kivu en particulier et dans toute la sous-région des grands lacs en général et demandons au gouvernement Canadien et à la communauté internationale  notamment de :
·       Conduire une enquête visant à faire toute  la lumière sur  le massacre de Gatumba ;
·       Tout mettre en œuvre pour identifier et traduire les auteurs  devant la justice ;
·       Appréhender Mr Agatho Rwasa et le déférer devant les juridictions compétentes car, ayant revendiqué la publiquement la responsabilité de son mouvement dans le massacre;
·       Mettre en place des mécanismes de réparation en faveur des  familles des victimes.
·       La question de responsabilité concerne au-delà de leurs auteurs et instigateurs, tous ceux individuellement et collectivement se sont trouvés en position de pouvoir faire d’autant que ces refugies  étaient sous la protection du HCR. ;
·       Coordonner des actions concertées  avec les familles des victimes pour un meilleur rétablissement et réintégration dans la vie communautaire »  
Fait a Ottawa le 13 Aout 2014

RUHARA Boniface
Représentant de la Communauté Banyamulenge d’Ottwa/Gatineau.