'Genocide Warning : The Vulnerability of Banyamulenge ‘Invaders’, by Rukumbuzi Delphin Ntanyoma

Abstract

In the Eastern Congo, a little-noticed genocidal threat has been emerging in South Kivu which is in part the legacy of colonial and post-colonial patterns of excluding those known as the Banyamulenge from those defined as ‘authoctonous’ in the region. Instead, defined as ‘immigrants’, the vulnerability of the Banyamulenge is easily denied. In the past, the Banyamulenge’s involuntary involvement in armed insurgencies alongside Rwandan troops worsened their reputation, as well as radicalizing their Maimai (Mayi-Mayi) opponents. These armed groups have now vowed to wipe out the Banyamulenge community. The most recent confrontations have involved foreign armed groups from neighboring countries, including Burundians opposition groups.

This genocide alert is based on the evidence of a serious intent to destroy villages and kill cattle so Banyamulenge can no longer occupy their few remaining localities and sustain themselves at all in their homeland areas of Minembwe and Bijombo. Local Maimai, armed groups, combine the surrounding Babembe, Banyindu and Bafuliro communities, and are supported militarily and financially by Burundians opposition. Regular and systematic attacks on the Banyamulenge are justif ied by calling these Congolese citizens ‘invaders’ and accusing them of being outsiders. Between October 2018 and May 2019, narratives emerged in media and on social media seem to presage a rapid movement towards the real risk of genocide.    

Keywords: genocide, Hamitic, Bantu, autochthony, Banyamulenge, invader.

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Delphin Ntanyoma is a PhD student working on micro-level violent conflict in Eastern Congo (The Democratic Republic of Congo). This is a region where he is originally native.