A group of about 30 peaceful protesters gathered in downtown Dayton Friday in an effort to bring awareness to the ongoing genocide against the Banyamulenge people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
According to event organizer Esperance Gikundiro, who is originally from the DRC, Friday’s protest was planned in part as a way to memorialize and bring attention to the brutal December killing of Maj. Joseph Kaminzobe, a member of the Congolese armed forces and the Banyamulenge ethnic minority.
“The main purpose of this protest is to raise awareness to what is going on there,” Gikundiro said. “No one knows what is going on and the media doesn’t write about it because no one there has access to the media. There is ongoing genocide.”
Protesters marched through areas of downtown Dayton Friday, gathering in front of City Hall where they could be heard chanting, “Enough is enough” and “Banyamulenge lives matter” while holding signs with phrases like, “We need peace. Justice for Banyamulenge” and “We need a Congressional hearing.”
According to reports, on Dec. 9, Kaminzobe was traveling from his duty station in Fizi to Uvira with his direct superior and other soldiers in a vehicle belonging to the local health sector when he was pulled from the vehicle in the area of Lweba by a group of villagers, who then lynched him and burned his body.
On Dec. 12, the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) issued the following denunciation, “The UNJHRO condemns the murder of an officer of FARDC on 12.09.2021 in Lweba, near Baraka, South Kivu. The UNJHRO learned that this officer in civilian clothes was taken from an ambulance by a crowd and lynched because of his ethnicity.”
Since 2017, the Banyamulenge population has been the target of attacks by militias, such as Mai-Mai and RED-Tabara, with the intent to forcibly remove them from their villages, according to a joint open letter of concern published by Crane Center for Mass Atrocity Prevention.
Gikundiro said the goal of Friday’s protest is to capture the attention of local, national and international government entities in order to bring stabilization to the area an end to the ongoing violence, which is fueled by ethnic discrimination and has led to the displacement of thousands of civilians.
“They are refugees in their own country right now,” she said. “That’s why we’re doing this demonstration because it’s getting worse.”
Gikundiro said a church service to honor Kaminzobe will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Apex Church, 5200 Far Hills Ave.
To learn more about this ongoing issue, visit www.mahoropa.org. Gikundiro said people interested in helping Banyamulenge individuals and families displaced by the ongoing violence can donate through the Mahoro Peace Association.
(c) 2022, Dayton Daily News