April 8, 2014
by Michael Christopher Brown
(Introduction by Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi):
“It was terrible – the way people were killed and there was no reaction! With 800,000 dead in Rwanda, the entire world paid attention to the massacre there. But here in Congo, six million dead said nothing to the world or to our own Congolese government. I would like to ask the world that they give us a number, that they tell us how many people do they need dead in Congo?” In a town deep in the jungles of South Kivu, General Juriste Moise Kikuni’s words tolled through the evening haze.
Kikuni leads one of the four factions of the Raia Mutomboki, a diffuse network of armed citizens that, collectively, make up the largest rebel group in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Their Kiswahili name translates to “Outraged Citizens,” and summarizes the impetus for their creation: outrage at the massacres, rapes and countless unspeakable atrocities suffered at the hands of the Interahamwe, the perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide who have inhabited the jungles of neighboring eastern DRC since they were chased out of Rwanda nearly 20 years ago. Having no hope of returning home, the Interahamwe has continuously tried to carve out its place in Congo, attacking villages and fighting for control over mineral rich areas and mines. When it became clear that the Congolese state was failing to protect its citizens, groups of affected Congolese villagers decided to take security into their own hands— they banded, armed themselves and formed the Raia Mutomboki, first in 2005 and again in 2011.
* This report is part of an in-progress multimedia project.