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Commemoration of 15th Anniversary of Rwandan refugees massacres in Congo

Commemoration of 15th Anniversary of Rwandan refugees massacres in Congo

Held in Oxford House in London,  Saturday the 26th November 2011.

Remembering victims (Rwandan refugees and Congolese) of Rwandan army in D.R. Congo)

This event  brought together members of the Rwandan community in UK, Congolese communities, Human Rights advocates, academics,  UK politicians, friends of Rwanda and Rwandans.
The meeting started by short clips which demonstrated the terrible massacres and suffering of Rwandan refugees in Congo since October 1996. This was followed by one minute’s silence to remember all those who were killed.  Participants lighted candles in memories of all those Rwandans and Congolese who were killed and those died in Congo.

In opening speech Olivier Harelimana recapped horrible experiences of Rwandan refugees in Congo since the attack and destructions of their camps in North and South Kivu region of Congo since in October 1994. He mentioned various attacks and massacres as documented by various reports such as those which occurred in the following regions:

  • Katale region  Between the 25th  and the 27th  October 1996
  • Uvira.On the 24th  October 1996
  • Mugunga On the 15th November 1996
  • Tingi-Tingi area fleeing between 28th February and 13th  March 1997.
  • Kisangani on the 1st April 1997
  • Mbandaka and Wendji on the 13th May 1997

He added that it is estimated that around 500,000 Rwandan refugees lost their lives in undignified ways that can be categorises in two categories:

  1. Those who were systematically massacred by Rwandan (RPF) troops
  2.  and those who died as result of hard life, malnutrition, starvation and diseases.

Testimonies of survivors

Victims of RPF army in D.R.Congo

Remembering the Victims of RPF army in D.R.Congo

Gerturde Uwamariya, a survivor of Congo atrocities sent testimonies which were read. She said that what she saw and experienced in Congo was the most horrible experiences that anyone can experience and no one should experience that. She reminded the audience that those who committed those atrocities have not been persecuted despite all available evidences of their actions.

Jean Pierre who experienced the killing of his parents in Congo jungle by the Rwandan army when he was a young boy, said that his life has changed forever since that day.

Experts and audience exchanges and sharing

Hubert Sauper the award winning film maker who directed the famous Kinsangani Daily, a documentary which followed Rwandan refugees in Kinsangani areas and their ordeal in November 1996, said that what he saw on road to Kisangani has never left his mind since then.

Prof. Peter Erlinder:Law professor and international criminal defence attorney demonstrated how it is important to look at the geopolitical factors and dimensions of local conflicts in any attempts to look for everlasting solutions including seeking for justice.

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP, who is an Advisor on Reconciliation to the President of Sri Lanka His Excellency Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa, while sharing their experiences on reconciliation efforts in his country, he stressed that truth telling has to be the first step of achieving true reconciliation.

Claude Gatebuke who is a genocide survivor and human right advocate encouraged everyone to became and raise their voice and campaign for peace, human rights and justice. He reminded everyone Dr Martin Luther King words “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere; the realisation of human rights for all people everywhere is therefore our common cause”.

Tano Mylvaganam, who is International criminal lawyer barrister invited Rwandans to look at way to come together to resolve their issues and build a strong relationship based on mutual respect and rule of law as the international criminal tribunal has not been successful in bringing about a true reconciliation needed.

Victoria Dimandja from the Congolese community suggested that a memorial event to commemorate all victims of wars and conflicts in Greatlakes should be the next step. She demonstrated the importance of Congolese and Rwandans to come together to promote peace in their region.

Harry Verhoeven who is an Oxford University academic warned on the danger of not recognising the multi-responsibility of atrocities that occurred and are currently occurring in Congo.

Other speakers and contributors in the event agreed on importance of Truth telling in reconciliation efforts that would achieve sustainable peace.

The audience agreed to work together and campaign so that killings like those occurred in Congo should not happen again and those currently occurring should stop.

3 comments

1 PEACE { 12.06.11 at 5:44 am }

I was there! I was there! I’m survived one. If you remember CHIMANGA Refugee Camp (70 KM from South KIVU – BUKAVU) this camp became the Slaughterhouse (ABATOIRE – IBAGIRO). Refugees died and died! There is no language to explain what happened there.

RPF, GOD BLESS.

2 Canisius Rutikanga { 12.06.11 at 6:36 am }

Merci aux amis qui ont voulu qui entretienent le flambeau des notres; victimes de la barbarie fprienne au service des corporates sans scrupules.

3 Canisius Rutikanga { 12.06.11 at 6:38 am }

Merci aux amis qui entretienent le flambeau des notres; victimes de la barbarie fprienne au service des corporates sans scrupules.

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