Kinshasa-Based Banyamulenge Community Voices Concerns Over Rwanda’s Alleged Misuse of Their Name in Congolese Conflict

Enock Ruberangabo, one of the signatories

In Kinshasa, a group of individuals from the Banyamulenge community has publicly criticized the Rwandan government, accusing it of exploiting their name in the ongoing conflicts in the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This grievance was formalized in a letter signed by five men identifying themselves as Bashingantahe, or respected elders, of the Banyamulenge residing in Kinshasa.

The letter detailed their assertion that the Banyamulenge have not sought intervention or representation from any foreign nation in relation to the conflict. They express surprise and concern over remarks made by Rwandan officials regarding the DRC conflict, which they perceive as serving Rwanda’s self-interests.

Enock Ruberangabo, one of the signatories, highlighted recent exchanges of harsh words between officials from both countries, accusing them of using the Tutsi and Banyamulenge names for their agendas. This statement reflects a broader concern about the misrepresentation and manipulation of ethnic group names in regional conflicts, which often exacerbates tensions and undermines the genuine needs and voices of the communities involved.

However, this stance is not universally accepted within the Banyamulenge community. Some members question the authority of the five signatories to speak on behalf of the entire group, suggesting that such claims may serve personal interests rather than those of the community at large.

Innocent Nteziryayo, a legal advocate for the Tutsi, Banyamulenge, and Bahema communities in the Congo, argues that those opposing the group’s efforts to speak out are overlooking the ongoing challenges and threats their people face amidst the conflict. He suggests that dismissing these voices only contributes to the marginalization and vulnerability of these communities.