Rwanda: Scholars, Genocide Survivors Alarmed By Increasing Hate Speech in DR Congo

Several organisations of survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and internationally-renowned scholars have expressed concern over what they termed as 'rapidly growing hate speech targeting Kinyarwanda speakers in the DR Congo'.

In a statement issued on July 27, and signed by representatives of the organisations and scholars, they indicated that the ongoing hate speech in the neighbouring country, which is mainly fueled by social media.

According to them, this kind of hate is one of the first stages of genocide, urging that urgent action is needed to prevent widespread violence. The animosity is mainly

"Incitement to violence against Tutsi has escalated in recent weeks, such as the planned mass coordinated attacks in different parts of eastern DR Congo that were scheduled for Saturday June 25.

"Congolese were called to round up Tutsi and to appear at Tutsi houses with machetes to expel and kill them. While evidence has not yet emerged that these attacks took place, this is clearly incitement to genocide which must be stopped before another genocide targeting the Tutsi population is committed," reads the statement.

Among those that signed the statement include the President of IBUKA Egide Nkuranga, Eric Murangwa, the founder of Ishami Foundation, representatives of IBUKA in France, Belgium, Germany, Italy Switzerland, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, US, and Senegal.

For scholars, signatories include Professor Nicki Hitchcot of University of St Andrews, Dr Zoe Norridge of King's College London, Linda Melvern a Genocide scholar, Dr Caroline Williamson Sinalo, Lecturer at the University College Cork and Researcher of Africa's Great Lakes Region and more others.

The statement was signed by 24 people in total.

In pointing out some of the incidents of hate speech, the statement detailed how a document released on June 20 by the politico-military party Front Populaire du Salut accused Tutsi of infiltrating Congolese government institutions and the Armed Forces, naming 10 'infiltrators' and offering payment to anyone who can prove that these individuals have been 'neutralised'.

"The identification of 'enemies' and the naming of people to be killed were tactics used by the hate radio RTLM and the Kangura newspaper in Rwanda before and during the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994. It is extremely worrying to see similar tactics being employed in the DRC today. A further echo of the genocidal rhetoric of 1994 is the targeting of Tutsi women," reads the statement.

It also points out that several fake stories have been circulating on social media in recent weeks, using photos of women who are known Tutsi genocide survivors, claiming that they were due to marry Congolese men and congratulating the future in-laws for cancelling the weddings and sending the women away.

Anti-Tutsi hatred is not a new phenomenon in the DRC, having developed over several decades against a backdrop of complex socio-political struggles in the country, particularly in the North and South Kivu provinces.

The situation was exacerbated by the refugee crisis and influx of génocidaires who fled Rwanda after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Signatories of the statement also called out the UN peacekeeping mission in the DR Congo, MONUSCO, for failing to fix the Kivu region despite running on huge budgets

"We call upon regional governments in collaboration with the international community to condemn this incitement to genocide and to provide tangible solutions to protect Tutsi populations in the DRC and prevent this dire situation from escalating further. The warning signs are there and immediate intervention is required," the statement suggests.

The mentioned hate speech has not only targeted Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese, it has also targeted Rwanda.

In fact, During the July 6 Luanda summit that brought together Presidents Paul Kagame, his DR Congo counterpart Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi and their host, João Lourenço, it was agreed to fight hate speech targeting Rwanda as contained in the roadmap that the meeting agreed on.

Also, the third East African Community Heads of State conclave held on June 20 also expressed concerns over the increasing proliferation of hate speech and violence against Rwandans and Congolese Tutsi in eastern DR Congo.

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