Student Sheds Light on Massacre in the Congo

Children gather together with their mothers in the Congo amidst tragedy. Photo courtesy Aline Umwamikazi (‘22).

By Aline Umwamikazi

My name is Umwamikazi Bagabo Aline. I am 23 years old: born in the Congo in a town called Vyura. I am Umunyamulengekazi, which means I have 100 percent right as a Congolese native. I want to help bring awareness to what is going on back home. One voice can make a change; imagine what 100 can do.

The Congo has almost 500 tribes and we, Banyamulenge, are one of those tribes. We have lived in the Congo for decades now. The Mai Mai, Red Tabara and National Forces of Liberation (FNL) groups are attacking my people because they believe the Banyamulenge do not belong in the Congo. Because of this, these groups have been killing my people for a long time now. It has become too much, kids losing their parents, parents losing their kids, husbands losing their wives and wives losing their husbands. It is getting out of hand. The sad thing is, the government is watching everything that has been happening and they are just sitting there not doing anything. We are all Congolese; we have the same rights as any other Congolese.

I am a victim of this horrible, bloody murder that is taking place in my country. In 1998, august, my people witnessed a tragedy that left them speechless and heartbroken; many innocent people lost their lives including my parents, my two uncles and my grandpa. The Mai Mai planned the massacre against Banyamulenge. They took so many lives, many homes were destroyed, women were raped and they imprisoned hundreds of people. Imagine how my grandma felt about losing four children and her husband in one month. No human deserves to go through this. it happened in 1998 but to this day justice has not been served

Due to the lack of safety, my people took refuge in different countries across the world including Rwanda, Kenya and Burundi. However, we are not accepted in any of these countries. We either get killed, chased a way, or we are bullied.

In 2004 Banyamulenge went through a very sad and painful moment: in Burundi, where some of us immigrated to, many lost their lives. My people were burned in their own homes, killed, chased away and raped. Over 150 people were killed in one night. How can a person take refuge in a country and they end up getting killed by the same people? Unbelievable. To this day, justice has not been served.  I think some people are formed in human form but don’t have a heart, and that is a very big issue.

I would really love to talk about how unfair it is for a child to grow up without their parents, but let’s save that for next time. I want my voice to be heard. Help me put a stop to the killing of Banyamulenge once and for all. My people in Congo are getting killed like a wild animals as we speak, and the government is just sitting there doing nothing. At this moment over 180 villages have been burnt down and more than 100,000 people were chased out of their own homes. More than 220 people have lost their lives, 350 injured and this has been going on for almost 6 months. My people have no shelter, no food, no clothes, no medical assistance and women are forced to have their babies in the bushes. The Mai Mai, Red Tabara and FNL are killing my people. We have constantly been on the run since May. Children are growing up in this environment. The older members of the tribe who cannot do physical labor are being forced to walk almost 100 kilometers (62 miles) a day to survive. This is not being coverd anywhere, no one is talking about this on the news. The sad thing is, the government is watching this as if it’s a television show.

This has been going on for a long time now. Banyamulenge have been through so much: we lose people we love every single day, children grow up without their parents, girls get raped and more. We are done, no more silence. Enough is enough. This must stop. We are tied. We as Banyamulenge are hoping to see change happen. Keeping quiet about this won’t do any good to my people. I love it here, but no place can replace your home. I want to be able to go back home and not be afraid I am not going to come back alive. I want my children and my grandchildren to be able to visit my home without any fear. Help me bring awareness to what is happening to my people. The children that are going days without food could have been me, but I am here, and I am going to keep being their voice.

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