Security Paradox of Banyamulenge Community: Netherlands Government versus Ubuntu Organization


Safety seems to be among the basic and our daily concerns regardless the place where someone lives. It has to be guaranteed beyond the willingness of security services until it gets embedded into the cohabitation of neighborhood. It must be translated into concrete actions stressing that any failure to obey the laws can be safeguarded by enforcing the rule of law. As crimes and human right abuses exist across borders, skin colors and communities, it would sound as utopia to consider that Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will be the only safe haven on earth. However, what makes difference around the world is the way these abuses are addressed. It may even be agreed that the appropriate way of stamping crimes out goes through holding people accountable over their wrongdoings than relying on their promises to ever repeat them. This is a justice question coupled with strong security services that can prevent and detect in advance criminal plans.

The previous argument seems to guide my understanding of Banyamulenge in the Netherlands protesting against a possible plan to return them to Kinshasa or any other provinces of DRC; except eastern-Congo as the part remains unstable.  The Dutch government plan can also be interpreted as likely a means of expressing that Banyamulenge are no longer considered in danger as they can freely live in any provinces of DRC. The protest took place on 11/04/2014 in front of the Netherlands Immigration Office, known in Dutch as Immigratie en NaturalisatieDiest (IND) located in The Hague, 2288 DC Rijswijk. Among the demonstrators, there were members of the Banyamulenge community and other members of communities from the DRC who came to support their friends and compatriots to express their anger and concern over such probable decision. Demonstrators were concerned by the plan of sending them back as Netherlands authorities believes that the situation in DRC is being stable and less discriminating towards the Banyamulenge community as they can live anywhere.

The basis of the Netherlands authorities is the assessment/investigation made in November 2013[1] stating that there is no systematic, structural and organized discrimination towards Tutsi in general and Banyamulenge in particular. Additionally, the assessment’s report adds that Banyamulenge can enjoy protection from DRC authorities and they are politically and militarily represented within national structures and institutions[2]. The conceptualization of the Banyamulenge security in DRC constitutes the ‘stumbling block’ between the Dutch government and Ubuntu organization representing the Banyamulenge community in Europe. The blog promised to discuss the point later on for contributing to the understanding of the matter.

The blogger believes that security structures in the DRC haven’t yet improved to the extent that it assures everyone. Despite specificities and the background of Banyamulenge’s security, it can be documented that Congolese security services still struggle to appropriately provide assurance of keeping safety for the whole society and specifically for some categories requiring attention. Consequently, the reform of security services constitutes a priority of DRC partners and other stakeholders. The reform of army, police and related services are on the agenda of Addis-Ababa agreement; while its implementation is being roughly seen as slow. In several occasion, the reform has been pointed out as an urgent and key step to be realized for the stabilization of the country. The absence of structured and hierarchical disciplined national army and police created loophole within the force that constitute one of the backbone of people’s safety. These loopholes have even opened a fracture leading to disappearance and killing of army commanders resulting from its heterogeneous formation. Thus, it remains hard to determine the level of willingness, if any, to protect systematically and impartially everyone in Congo as eyewitnesses assist regularly to different crimes looking sometimes as organized.

Therefore, so long as the army and police that are in charge of people’s security are yet reformed, there might be a slight confidence into the security forces. Moreover, experience of the past still dictates victims’ perceptions of atrocities in DRC and it has to be taken into account. There is a need of reminding the reader that justice in Congo is approximately inexistent. Since the independence, most of crimes haven’t ever been tried[3] so that it can be a mechanism of preventing further escalation. Beyond inter-community killings, targeted massacres, security servicemen were regularly accused of being involved into civilian’s killings and elimination of some targeted individuals or groups. As these crimes remain neither unnoticed nor punished, victims are likely to worry about their safety. That is, there is a need of establishing ground of justice structures to ensure that ordinary citizens can benefit from procedures aiming at protecting them.

Though the aspect looks general, victims still recall the experience of lacking justice and rehabilitation. A recent report from the United Nations on impunity of sexual violence[4] has largely documented constraints facing the fighting against sexual violence. Among the mentioned constraints, the report pointed a finger on the lack of willingness of some Congolese authorities; challenges around judicial and legal framework; flaws within the military justice protecting senior officers to the absence of well-established protection mechanisms of victims. As stated the report, though documenting specifically sexual violence, these drawbacks are roughly found within the inexistent judicial system in DRC. Subsequently, these shortfalls overshadow the capacity of judicial system to deal with crimes leading to a vicious circle.

With regard to representation, it can be stated that most of Congolese ethnic groups are represented within politics and security institutions. However, safety remains a concern for different individuals inside the country as struggle to get rid of armed groups haven’t yet bear much fruits. Consequently, having a member of any community within the public sphere wouldn’t mean that all members of that community will inevitably be safe. Seemingly, this interpretation sounds that security drawbacks in DRC were unlikely taken into the broad sense of it and appear to be narrowly crosschecked. Moreover, it is worth to remind that recurring wars and insurgencies in eastern DRC has created confusion between Banyamulenge and Tutsi in general and those individuals who led insurgencies. Many people within the Congolese society do believe and state publicly that killers, since the eruption of rebellions in 90s, are members of Banyamulenge community. This perception worsened the resentment singling a community though these insurgencies were led by individuals from different community backgrounds.

Specifically, for a community that has been discriminated and targeted in different occasions; there is yet a grounded fear over their treatment based on individual experience and the above mentioned characteristics. Thus, political and military ‘representation’ wouldn’t convince anyone who witnessed these atrocities, especially as appointees never represent a community rather their respective political movements or parties. Many examples and cases have been discussed where people were discriminated and targeted while these officials are in place. It sounds and emphasizes that Congolese population wouldn’t have to rely on their community members within national structures like security services as it is all over the world. Security services have to be responsible and being accountable for the whole society regardless of their ethnic community belonging. At this point, anyone can feel safe and confident in front of organized and disciplined security forces.

Furthermore, as heinous speeches discriminating Banyamulenge and Tutsi in general have reached the peak, there is yet any guarantee for members of these communities to live anyway in DRC. Recently, there have been targeted killings in Kalemie/Katanga where few families of Banyamulenge community were residing. It raises a concern again of security services to accomplish their missions. As these cases revive existing wounds and recall killings that remained unpunished, Banyamulenge in Netherlands are unlikely able to consider the assessment from Dutch government as objective; especially as no official guarantee from DRC government has ever been made. In addition, it is worthwhile to point out that official nomination of some discriminated category can be used as a scapegoat of power contestation. Informed reader reminds how the nomination of Congolese national police inspector went discussed by professional Medias and newspapers as the motive of 30th December attacks[5]. It implicitly reveals how the community is publicly perceived, even by political analysts.

It can still be agreed that the community protesting is on the spot due confusion and hatred speeches that accompanied great lakes regional confrontation since 1996. Here is one of the tweet replied when the demonstration was going on in The Hague confirming these attitudes of resentment. The twitter user replied publicly by saying “Marc MALONGO‏@CafeMalongoApr 11

@Delphino12 : Quoi comme droits encore? Ils ont déjà le droit de tuer les congolais par rebellions interposées made by Rwanda.[6]”. The tweet can mean “What as rights again? They already have the right of killing congolese through rebellions waged by Kigali”. Though unlikely representative, the tweet shows how some people allegedly consider a whole community as if an independent investigation has proved their collective guilt.

From the discussion above, the blog considers that security issues drawbacks in DRC are well wide and concern the Congolese society. There is yet any guarantee for those who came specifically across targeted atrocities. Hence, it can be argued that bilateral and international partners of DRC government would approach the matter by getting involved into reconciliation and justice processes to support community cohabitation. Beyond reconciliation, it may be wise if the pressure focuses on governmental officials and country leaders for establishing mechanisms that assure the whole society without discrimination and these mechanisms must be translated into concrete actions rather than showing willingness.

Ntanyoma R. Delphin

Twitter account @delphino12

Email: rkmbz1973@gmail.com

Blog: www.edrcrdf.wordpress.com

[1] The bulletin in Dutch can be found on the link: http://www.rijksoverheid.nl/documenten-en-publicaties/ambtsberichten/2013/11/27/democratische-republiekcongo-2013-11-27.html

[2] http://ubuntukwetu.org/PDF-Files/New%20Dutch%20Policy%20on%20Congolese.pdf

[3] https://edrcrdf.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/makenga-et-les-crimes-des-guerres-en-rdc-quelles-lecons-et-strategies-pouvons-nous-tirer/

[4] Avancées et Obstacles dans la Lutte Contre L’impunité des Violences Sexuelles   en République Démocratique Du Congo, Nations Unies-Haut-Commissariat aux Droits de l’Homme, Avril 2014

[5] http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/30/congo-democratic-idUSL6N0K918E20131230 “Some analysts in Kinshasa said the attacks could be linked to Kabila’s recent decision to replace national police chief John Numbi, a powerful political figure from Katanga, with Charles Bisengimana, an ethnic Tutsi.” See also: http://www.jeuneafrique.com/Article/ARTJAWEB20131231152332/

http://desc-wondo.org/speciale-enquete-quelle-lecture-faire-des-evenements-du-30-decembre-2013-en-rdc-jj-wondo/

[6] https://twitter.com/CafeMalongo/status/454617115916787712

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2 thoughts on “Security Paradox of Banyamulenge Community: Netherlands Government versus Ubuntu Organization”

  1. how can the Netherlands government can say to return the Banyamulenge in Congo while some peoples, even some hight command in Arm is disapear in the society? where is col Gatoki?

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