On March 1st, 2023, 15 renowned Rwandan activists from around the world issued a call for citizen mobilization in support of Rwandan refugees persecuted in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Following this call, through the website www.dutabareimpunzi, 6231 individuals, 16 civil society organizations, and 7 political parties expressed their support for this initiative.
As a result of these expressions of support and high-level consultations, the initiators and supporters decided to launch the All For Rwanda movement to lead the fight for the defense, protection, and dignified return of Rwandan refugees to their homeland.
Below is the call issued on March 1st by these 15 activists.
We, human right activists committed to the respect of human rights in Rwanda and in the Great Lakes region of Africa, we call for unity and general mobilization to save and protect Rwandan Hutu refugees in the East of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). They are once again threatened with massacres and extermination by the army of President Paul Kagame which opetates in the DRC under the cover of the M23.
During the last three decades, several wars have hit the DRC, particularly in its eastern part. The Congolese populations of this region, like the Rwandans who have found refuge there, have been, on many occasions, victims of massacres, rapes and crimes of all kind in full watch and knowledge of the whole world. The silence of the international community and the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of these abuses have perpetuated this tragedy to this day.
With the resumption of hostilities in November 2021 by the RDF/M23 tandem, these innocent people were once again left at the mercy of their executioners. They are targeted in large-scale massacres like those of November 29 and 30, 2022 in Kishishe and Bambo. A preliminary investigation by the UNJHRO and MONUSCO “confirmed that M23 rebels killed at least 131 civilians (102 men, 17 women and 12 children) during acts of reprisals against civilian population” and 66 women were raped according to an investigation by Amnesty International. This Monday, February 20, a similar episode was carried out in Kasesero and Kanyati according to the Radio Okapi media.
All these innocent people, many of whom were refugees or descendants of Rwandan refugees, were massacred by the Rwandan regime army acting under the cover of the M23 on the sole ground that they were of Hutu ethnicity. It should be noted that this massacre is yet an nth episode of the planned, methodical and systematic extermination carried out by the Rwandan army and its proxies in eastern DRC against all people of the Hutu ethnic group or identified as such since 1996, regardless of whether they are Rwandan or Congolese.
Let us recall that from 1996 to 2003, between 250,000 and 600,000 Rwandan refugees were massacred during the two Congo wars. Some of these crimes, very accurately related in the historic Mapping Report, put together by senior UN experts, “reveal several damning elements which, if proven in a competent court, could be qualified as crimes of genocide”. .
Some of us survived these campaigns of extermination. Stigmatized and subjected to amalgamations of all kind for 29 years, we are among those who have been asked to keep silent about our suffering and our pain because they are deemed unworthy or because they could adulterate the official narrative of the Rwandan regime. To that account we were left behind as a people segment that justice has decided to turn its back on, so much so that we are material witnesses to the evidence that a court of justice is not a prerequisite to grant us the status of victimhood for a genocide that has clearly been sanctioned with silence.
As survivors, it is our duty to carry the voice of those among us who are still in eastern DRC, constantly under the threat of massacres and extermination.
Appalled by this situation, we shall not allow a new massacre to happen on the Rwandan refugees in eastern DRC.
Also, through the current initiative, we call for the general mobilization of all players affected by this inhuman injustice in a rally for the protection of these refugees and for the creation of conditions for their dignified return to their homeland.
We are committed to mobilizing all available means to achieve this objective. We call on everyone to come together to speak with one voice and to act as one body. We wish that this mobilization be broad within the Rwandan population scattered around the world, that it not be limited by ethnicity or political persuasion and that it transcend our personal life stories. Together, our voice will carry far, in the sub-region and throughout the world, proposing that a human and just solution be found by prioritizing dialogue, between the Rwandan State and its own refugees.
All together, let us pledge to support the efforts and actions aimed at ensuring the return of peace in the Eastern DRC as well as the return, in dignity, of the Rwandan Refugees to their homeland.
Natacha Abingeneye, Belgique
Callixte Bimenyimana, Ouganda
Vincent Bizimana, Zambie
Justin Dusingize, Nord-Kivu, RDC
Fidèle Kabera, Belgique
Théophile Murayi, USA
Faustin Murego, Belgique
Égide Ndayishimiye, République d’Afrique du Sud
Norman Sinamenye, Belgique
Lydie Ujeneza, Canada
Assumpta Uwababyeyi, Suisse
Nadine Uwacu, Burundi
Venuste Uwilingiyimana, Nord-Kivu, RDC
Marie Uwimana, Kenya
Gloria Uwishema, Pays-Bas