The Banyamulenge youth who emigrated to Canada because of recurrent violence in their home country, in what is by extension called Mulenge, organized a peaceful protest on Parliament Hill to draw the attention of the international community to the humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The Banyamulenge are a Tutsi ethnic group settled in what has become the Democratic Republic of Congo since the 17th century, in the Eastern region, more precisely, in the highlands of Uvira Fizi, and Mwenga. In this part of the country, the human rights violations committed by Mai-Mai coalition militias from neighboring tribes with the support of foreign forces from neighboring countries are extremely adverse that this can be qualified as a " Well planned genocide". " The crimes are directed against members of a well-shattered, ethnically minority community namely the Banyamulenge, without sparing women and children. The livelihoods of the people, livestock, the farms that make up the bulk of the economy, are being destroyed to undermine the survival of this community.
Gloria Uwamahirwa, a first-year human rights student at Carleton University, Ottawa, is one of the youths who organized the event after unsuccessfully sending out press releases to media organizations.
The night of the event, it snowed in Ottawa and the temperatures fell well below zero degrees. At least 100 people attended the event, despite the ruthless time. The protesters were, for the most part, high school students and students of different origins.
"Finally, I was so impressed, we received so much support from our families and friends," said Uwamahirwa.
Uwamahirwa told CCPDD that the purpose of the protest was to sensitize the Canadian government and the Canadian people to the silent genocide perpetrated in the DRC. "The lack of media coverage favors crime. The Western community tends to turn a blind eye to things that do not bring them economic, financial and political interest. When it will be too late, to appease and console remorse, they will make findings and then condemn in a superficial way what happened, and it's over, "she said.
"I sent an email to my MP, I received nothing as a result," she added.
The event brought together many participants who all expressed anger and frustration at the Congolese government. People gathered in a circle and listened, while a fire was burning in the center, offering a warm light. For many, it symbolized both the anger they felt for injustice but also a glimmer of hope for tomorrow. Finally, there was a peaceful march through downtown Ottawa, a procession carrying many signs with various messages calling for peace, justice and denouncing the inhuman treatment of the Banyamulenge community living in the DRC. "I think that will change something. It's going to affect some hearts, "said Iris Igiraneza, a Grade 12 student who has been living in Canada for three years.
Attacks have increased in the region since 2017 and over time, in an inaccessible landlocked area, without any help, where the international coverage of events is completely absent, the people live a desperate life. The incendiary messages, carrying incredible hatred, are launched through social media and YouTube, calling on the local population to take weapons and kill the Banyamulenge, or kick them out of the country.
"It is awful to see people with whom we have lived among for centuries killing ours for the simple reason that we are not alike. How does this differ from racism when we always condemn others? A black versus a black? It's absurd! Said Gunga Christian, a first-year student at Algonquin College. "The Government of Canada can help us by raising our concerns to the Congo government," said Christian. "So far, it has not done anything yet. Does it observe or is it not informed? "
These protests are part of the global movement against this blatant injustice in eastern DRC. The hashtag of the #SaveMulenge media aims to put an end to ethnic erosion in the DRC and to mobilize both moral and material support, in the form of financial aid, food, clothing, and medicine, but above all, to denounce.
There is also a GoFundMe page intended to send help to the Congolese NGO UGEAFI, which provides food and clothing to those who are forced to flee their homes or AVOC, a widowed survivors' association to help orphans.