Immediate action to be taken: Arrest Agathon Rwasa and send him to court.
On August 10-11, 2014, the Gatumba Massacre Survivors will host the 10th annual Gatumba Massacre Memorial Gathering to commemorate the memory of 166 innocent Congolese Banyamulenge refugees who were mercilessly slain at a UN-run refugee camp known as Gatumba. They were brutally attacked and killed by a large group of armed combatants predominantly from FNL-PALIPEHU of Agathon Rwasa. As mentioned, these refugees were from the Congolese minority Tutsi community of South Kivu known as Banyamulenge. They had fled violence against them by some extreme members of DRC army and other armed groups such as Interahamwe (Rwandan Genocidal Group) and Mayi Mayi in South Kivu in June 2004. These innocent refugees were targeted simply because of their ethnicity.
The commemoration is open to the public and aims at requesting justice, providing healing to all affected victims, and drawing public awareness to the ongoing plight of all those still suffering in Eastern Congo with no distinction based on ethnicity. This gathering will also promote a spirit of reconciliation in Eastern DRC along with pressuring the international community especially the US government to pressure the government of Burundi to arrest Agathon Rwasa and send him to court of justice.
There will be presentations by many engaging speakers, including:
The memorial will be marked by healing sessions and memorial workshops of those lost in a peaceful and safe location. Prayers for those still suffering in silence in the Eastern DRC along with sermons for peace and stability in the region will also be at the center of the memorial weekend. Survivors will also share stories about their survival. Last but not least there will be traditional memorial performances and panel presentations by well-informed and educated guest speakers about the current situation in the Great Lakes Region of Africa.
Results from previous gatherings are good indicators of how the event helps the survivors to become more productive at work along with adjusting to their new life in the US. The event is open to the public. All are invited without distinction.
On the night of August 13, 2004 in the Gatumba Refugee Camp, armed factions mercilessly slaughtered 166 unarmed Congolese refugees. The majority of the refugees were defenseless Banyamulenge Tutsi women and children from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), at the United Nations-run refugee camp in Burundi. 166 people lost their lives and an additional 116 were injured. Many families were traumatized that bore witness to this atrocity. These innocent refugees were targeted solely based on their ethnicity.
As mentioned, those attacked were almost exclusively members of the Banyamulenge people group, a Congolese Tutsi minority, though a handful of some moderate Bembe were attacked as well. Prior to the attack, the Gatumba Refugee Camp, located just a few miles from the DRC, provided refuge to hundreds of Banyamulenge who had been forced out of their homes in the southern Kivu region of the DRC by various terrorist and militia groups, such as Interahamwe, FNL and the Mai Mai Militia. Innocent civilians continue to suffer a wide variety of injustices and persecutions in this forgotten and ignored portion of the world. The Gatumba Massacre is just one of many atrocities that have occurred and continue to occur in the Great Lakes region of Africa. Since that horrific night, some of the Gatumba Survivors and their families have been relocated to safety in communities across the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia, though many still live in fear, persecution and famine in DRC, Kenya, Burundi, Malawi, Ethiopia and Uganda.
Each year, on the anniversary of the Gatumba Massacre, survivors from across the country come together in a convenient location for a memorial ceremony. This event helps the survivors and their families to rekindle old bonds and forge new connections, pay respects to those who were murdered, and continue healing emotional wounds. The location of the memorial changes each year, to allow as many survivors to attend as possible and to connect the survivors with new communities. There will also be workshop sessions about helping all refugee/ immigrant attendees become productive members of the American community.
On a greater scale, the survivors, who are now US citizens will use this occasion as a platform to petition the US government and the international community to put pressure the governments of Burundi and DRC and the International Criminal Court in the Hague to bring the authors and perpetrators of the Gatumba Massacre to justice, to protect all innocent civilians in Eastern DRC and refugees in neighboring countries from the continuing threat of genocide, to reunite families torn apart by violence and displacement, and to call for a cessation of violence against all civilian populations throughout the Congo and the Great Lakes Region of Africa. The alleged mastermind of the Gatumba Massacre, the PALIPEHUTU-FNL leader, Agathon Rwasa must be immediately arrested and sent to court. Justice is the only way to end the rampant culture of impunity in the Great Lakes Region of Africa for sustainable peace and stability for all with no distinction. Last but not least, Justice is also the most effective means to bring legal healing to the survivors of the Gatumba Massacre.
Gatumba Refugee Survivors Foundation, Inc.
Olivier Mandevu – President: 1-518-253-5117
Espe Nasezerano – Secretary: 1-972-399-6431
August 10-11, 2014
Forum Room Blackburn Center
2400 Sixth St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20059
Click for map / directions