Archbishop Francois-Xavier Maroy of Bukavu, in eastern D.R. Congo, in a May 28th letter to the visiting French ambassador sounded the alarm concerning the developing dangers for the people of the Bukavu region. In the letter, which follows, the archbishop ominously states that “all the elements are gathering for a new war in South Kivu.” He speaks of infiltatrion of fighters from Rwanda and of killing in Kaniola on May 26th and 27th. He calls on the authorities in Kinshasa to fulfill their repsonsibilities to protect the population of the East, which has suffered too much war already. Continue below to read his plaintive appeal in English, to read the originial letter in French click here .
ARCHBISHOP OF BUKAVU (D.R. CONGO)
ARCHIDIOCESE OF BUKAVU
The military placement is reproducing the same schema than the one which occurred just before the beginning of the war by the RCD in 1998. As a proof, the 11th brigade in the region of Walungu where the killings of Kaniola took place, the 14th brigade just a bit North of the previous one and the 3rd brigade in the city of Bukavu are all under the command of officers coming from the ex political-military movement of RCD Goma. Even the commander in second of the 10th military region, in charge of the operations is a former member of RCD Goma. Is it only a hazard or is there a military strategy behind this?
We find again the presupposed ethnic hatred expressed in a campaign found in the media.
The awful killing of Kaniola, near Walungu, which took place during the night of 26-27 May 2007, is a strong reminder of the killing which was perpetrated in Lemera, in Uvira territory just before the decisive attacks of the war of the AFDL. The nature of the cruelty of arms like machetes and knifes (armes blanches) is completely against our culture and gives a reminder of the massacres of Kasika and Makobola.
The massacre which took place in Kaniola was nearly done in the presence of the Major of the real army, who is close to the Commander of the 11th brigade. The cries and the shouts of the population did not disturb his sleep even if the massacres were happening in a place very close to where he was based.
As in 1996, our regular army, being completely restructured at the moment, is unable to protect the population.
As in 1996, the Banyamulenge are receiving arms to provoke war, they are moving, mainly, women and children, as some witnesses declare, towards the neighboring countries and leave only the men in the High Plateau of South-Kivu.
Some interrogations remain:
What meaning one can give to the silence of the Institutions of the Republic, meaning the Head of State, the Parliament, the Central Government and the Headquarters of the Army in front of the repetitive killings taking place at Kaniola? Under other skies, if there are hostages taken, even if it is only one, the whole Institution of the State is mobilized. Faced with the threat of a new war, and while massacres are perpetrated among the civilians, what is the Government of the Democratic Republic doing? Instead of dealing with the real problem which is rooted in the field of security and army, there are proposals of inter-communities Round Table. Can one speak of complicity or is there ignorance instead?
What did the process of “brewing and mixing” negotiated in the neighboring countries offer to our civilian people in the domain of security and why did it occur? Are there agreements and contracts established between our political-military government and our attackers?
As was done during the previous wars in 1996, 1998 and 2004, soldiers were sent to the front without any logistic support and without any sufficient food ration. Is this done in order to starve or discourage them or, more simply to hand them to the enemy?
The Interhamwe, Rasta and FDLR, who are the perpetrators of the massacres all speak Kinyarwanda. They were driven to the East of the RDC by the International Community after the Rwandese genocide. When the return of these people converted into terrorists to a welcoming territory will happen? Is it the way to reward the people of East Congo for their hospitality?
Here are some of our recommendations:
That our Head of State who was elected with a massive support from this Province faces his responsibilities and sends elite troupes to counter the imminent war in North and South Kivu before it would be too late.
That the Government, stopping any other activity, studies the problem of the State security in the East as a priority an stops distracting the public opinion with Negotiating Plans, dialogs and Round Tables leading to nowhere. We have an experience of that.
That those elected by the people get more deeply motivated for the true security of
That the Members of the International Community, strongly represented in this Region do not say that they did not know what was happening. We have proof that they are informed.
That the MONUC comforted by the latest decision of the UN to prolong its presence until December 2007, does not hide from its duty and does not make a pact with the enemy but gets committed to the protection of the civilians, in accordance with its new mandate.
That the people of the East DRC, who never betrayed, open the eye, and the good one, as in the past. The enemy is still around.
We are natural neighbors of the people of Rwanda, of Burundi and of Uganda. We are forced to live together, and to live in peace and harmony and not in a never-ending war in this Sub Region that God lavishly gave to us. What is the use of new wars that will only impoverish our people and create unworthy enmities? “Happy are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God” (Mt. 5, 9) “No war anymore, the world longs for peace”.
I ask you to become the voice of the voiceless that everyday die in our villages. We express our deep condolences to the families who are mourning their lost ones and may our brothers and sisters who have been killed at Kaniola rest in peace.
Bukavu, 28th May 2007
Mgr François-Xavier MAROY RUSENGO,
Archbishop of Bukavu