The actions of the government of Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi against his country’s Kinyarwanda-speaking Tutsi communities can only become more genocidal, going by events in eastern DRC. At the same time, Tshisekedi is hell-bent on destabilizing Rwanda – something evident in his frequent bellicose words, but also in the activities of his military, which on more than one occasion has fired artillery pieces into Rwanda, or sent its fighter jets to violate Rwandan airspace.
The two ongoing events, i.e. the genocide targeting DRC’s Tutsi communities, and Kinshasa’s frantic attempts to destabilize Rwanda, are intertwined, and part of a single dynamic: Tshisekedi’s determination to cling onto power against the wishes of a population that looks set to reject him in the coming elections over two months’ time from now.
So, the Congolese ruler has latched onto a strategy to turn Rwanda into a scapegoat, pretending Kigali is the source of all the DRC’s problems.
The rhetoric from Kinshasa paints Rwanda as a boogeyman, guilty of everything from trying to balkanize the Congo; to “stealing DR Congo mountain gorillas to take them to Rwanda; to the frequent, yet-to-be-proven claims that Rwanda backs the M23 rebels. They make the latter accusations while studiously avoiding mention of the fact the FDLR, a Rwandan genocidal outfit – blacklisted by none other than the UN for committing atrocities in eastern DRC – and that is a remnant of the criminals who massacred over a million Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994, has safe haven in the eastern DRC jungles. There they train, and arm themselves with Kinshasa’s help, all the time making a lot of money through illicit trade in metals, charcoal, and other means, while biding their time to re-launch attacks into Rwanda.
Rwanda, according to Kinshasa propaganda, is “the enemy that all Congolese must hate”. But for that lie to be more easily inculcated into millions of low-information Congolese (whose votes Tshisekedi needs), the Kinshasa regime has an easy, ready-made domestic victim: eastern Congo’s predominantly Kinyarwanda-speaking pastoralist and herder populations.
Tshisekedi and high-ranking members of his regime whip up populist, anti-Rwanda rhetoric every chance they get, in every forum. And because the Congolese pastoral or herder communities share linguistic and cultural similarities to the Tutsi ethnicity in Rwanda, they have to face the terror of the hate whipped up by the violent rhetoric of their country’s rulers.
Moreover the government of Tshisekedi has gone beyond that and is actively disenfranchising the Tutsis, its own citizens, with the absurd claim that they are not Congolese, but Rwandans.
We have seen this movie umpteen times before.
Kinshasa is “othering” people that, time immemorial, lived in the Kivus, Masisis, and other places, until the colonialists came and chopped up Africa anyhow they wanted, with those Tutsi homelands ending part of the many that became Leopold’s so-called “Congo Free State”, whose boundaries no one changed after the Belgians left in 1960.
Now the Tshisekedi regime is spitting on the Congolese as “foreigners”; dehumanizing them in the well-worn playbook of those plotting to exterminate an entire group.
When an entity like the M23 arose, not only to try to fight for the rights of the Tutsi communities, but in a bid to defend their people against the genocide, of which the FDLR are the most bloodthirsty perpetrators, of course Tshisekedi and his people began to shout that this was Rwanda attacking Congo. They haven’t stopped.
Now we see Congolese mobs, who behave uncannily like the Interahamwe in Rwanda in 94, set upon Tutsis in Goma, Rutshuru, Bukavu, Masisi, and other places. Government-backed militias, who are composed of a myriad assortment of bloodthirsty groups, including Wazalendo, Mai Mai Nyatura, FDLR, and others who get their weapons from the Congolese military FARDC, are on the rampage. They not only kill and rape, they also burn Tutsi houses and loot their property, sending whole communities fleeing to refuge in bushes, or walking backbreaking distances to cross borders into neighboring countries.
Yet these terrible crimes against humanity are treated with barely disguised indifference by the world community.
One wonders: where is the moral outrage, internationally, against this genocide?
Where is the African Union in all this, and why can’t we hear a peep of condemnation from them against all these atrocities against African people? We hear that the East African Community supposedly has been working toward a peaceful resolution to the conflict in DRC. It has even sent a force into DRC – the East African Community Regional Force – supposedly to oversee a ceasefire between government troops and M23, as per regional peace frameworks born of the Nairobi and Angola processes.
But the Congolese military, FARDC, together with its allied militias violate the ceasefire willy-nilly. The EACRF is toothless. Worse still, according to reports are surfacing, the Burundian military contingent of the East African force is in cahoots with the Congolese military to retake territory from the M23, exposing Tutsi civilians to crimes against humanity.
Why is there no fierce condemnation of these activities by other regional governments?
Further away, the West will rush with billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine, but when it comes to the beleaguered, targeted civilians in DRC, the West tends to parrot Kinshasa propaganda talking points, such as that “Rwanda backs M23!”
They shameful truth is, they care not a whit about the imperiled Africans.
All it would take to make Tshisekedi pause in his tracks would be strong, serious words of condemnation by the US or Western Europe against the crimes his forces, and the militias he backs, are perpetrating.
Apparently Congolese minerals carry more worth to them than Congolese Tutsi civilians.