DRC Clashes: Fears of Widespread Bloodbath as Rwandan Backed Militia Forces Attack Bayamulenge Civilians
The situation in the Mulenge highlands located near Uvira at the foot of the Itombwe mountains in South Kivu has become tense as Rwanda, through its proxy forces 'Red Tabara' and the local Mai Mai are conducting a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Banyamulenge Tutsi, this website learnt.
Multiple sources confided in the Kampala Post that the proxy forces first started by arming and encouraging the local Mai Mai (composed of Babembe, Banyindu and Bafuliru tribes) to attack the Banyamulenge. This was in late 2017. However, when the Banyamulenge self-defense forces successfully repelled these attacks Rwanda reportedly started sending Red Tabara units into the Mulenge plateau to join the Mai Mai and attack the Banyamulenge.
According to a source familiar with the clashes there, Red Tabara is composed of the Barundi forces that tried to stage a coup against President Pierre Nkurunziza in 2015.
“When they were defeated by Nkurunziza, they fled to Rwanda and were reorganized with the support of Rwanda,” the source said, adding that “They were re-trained and re-armed and are now acting as Rwanda’s proxy in South Kivu.”
Meanwhile, the Banyamulenge have been expelled from Uvira (i.e Itombwe), from Bijabo and much of the Fizi territory. In the Fizi territory, the source says, they are clinging on to an enclave around the town of Minembwe.
“In this town, there are already 120,000 Banyamulenge refugees from the areas they have been expelled from. The UN is doing absolutely nothing as usual. FARDC is complicit in this program of ethnic cleansing. They have taken absolutely no action against Red Tabara and the Mai Mai,” the source that preferred anonymity in order to speak freely noted.
Asked why the Banyamulenge are targeted, the source said the Banyamulenge community refused to participate in Rwanda's endless wars of aggression in the DRC.
“Rwanda also believes that the Banyamulenge have sympathies for Rwandan dissident Lt Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa and RNC,” the source said.
The source calls upon the region and the international community to intervene so as to stop the 'genocide'.
"The Banyamulenge really need the region and the international community to help stop this genocide because the UN is doing nothing about it," the source said.
In the meantime, Colonel Michel Rukunda also known as Makanika has defected from the ranks of the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC).
A former rebel, Michel Rukunda previously led the Banyamulenge rebellion of the federalist republican forces (FRF), before being recruited in 2011 to the FARDC.
Colonel Michel Rukunda was previously the second in charge of operations in the Walikale sector.
The defection of Col Rukunda has reportedly sent shivers down the spine of the Rwandan establishment.
“I'm sure you have seen how Rwandan media and social media has been so disturbed by the defection of Colonel Michael 'Makanika' Rukunda. They are very worried because Makanika is a well-known fighter who defeated them when they supported M23 back in 2012-2013,” the source said adding, “There is going to be a big war in the Mulenge hills. More Banyamulenge officers will desert FARDC to go home and protect their families.”
READ MORE: Eastern DRC: Rwandan Army Implicated in Killings, Plunder
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