On August 10th and 11th, the Gatumba Refugee Massacre Survivors will hold their 9th annual
Gatumba Massacre Memorial Gathering at the Drake University, Olmsted Center in Des Moines, IA. This year’s memorial offers survivors and guests the opportunity to honor the Congolese refugees who were brutally attacked in the Gatumba Refugee Camp in Burundi in 2004. Organizers also aim to raise public awareness to the plight of those still suffering in the Congo and reduce further conflict and atrocities in the Great Lakes region of Africa. The memorial serves also as a platform through which these refugee survivors call the international community to pressure the government of Burundi for justice in regards to the gatumba massacre.
This is the first time the memorial is being hosted near the Des Moines area. Previous gatherings were held in Albany, NY; Houston, TX; Concord, NH; St. Louis, MO; Syracuse, NY; Washington DC and elsewhere. Among the speakers will be Aline Kamariza, a fourteen-year-old orphan whose parents were killed during the massacre and who suffered serious physical injuries. At six-years-old, she was shot in the legs and then burned with gasoline. Despite her harrowing experience, Aline has not lost her spirit. At the Gathering, she will recount the events of August 13, 2004 and how her life has transformed since resettling to the United States along with her fellow survivors.
The theme for this year’s memorial is this common voice from the gatumba massacre survivors “We’re unsafe without justice in regards to the Gatumba Massacre. Tell the US governemnt to pressure the Burundian government to act now” As in previous years, survivors and their families are expected to travel from across the country to pay their respects to the victims of the massacre and to promote justice and reconciliation in their homeland. Since 1998, more than 5 million people have died in Congo’s protracted conflict. The Gatumba Refugee Survivors Foundation calls on the international community to help end the violence, torture, and discrimination affecting millions of innocent lives in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
As the Foundation’s President Olivier Mandevu states, “The violence in the Congo must stop. Here in the United States, we must be the voice for the voiceless still suffering in silence.We invite people to join us at the Memorial and learn more about how we can prevent atrocities like the Gatumba massacre from occurring again in the future.”
The Gatumba Memorial is free and open to the public. There will be testimonials, memorial songs, presentations and food shared throughout the weekend. Media and guests are particularly encouraged to attend Aline’s testimony scheduled for Saturday at 2pm.