Editor’s note: DGR stands in strong solidarity with indigenous peoples worldwide. We acknowledge that they are victims of the largest genocide in human history, which is ongoing. Wherever indigenous cultures have not been completely destroyed or assimilated, they stand as relentless defenders of the landbases and natural communities which are there ancestral homes. They also provide living proof that not humans as a species are inherently destructive, but the societal structure based on large scale monoculture, endless energy consumption, accumulation of wealth and power for a few elites, human supremacy and patriarchy we call civilization.
By Boris Wu
On Thursday, January 14th 2021, 46 people belonging to the ethnic minority of the Pygmies were killed by suspected rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). The massacre happened in the village of Masini, Badibongo Siya group, chiefdom of Walese Vonkutu in the territory of Irumu, province of Ituri.
The murders were committed by men armed with machetes and firearms. According to the coordinator of the French NGO CRDH (C.R.D.H./Paris Human Rights Center), the men were identified “as Banyabwisha disguised as ADF / NALU rebels”. Many of the bodies have been mutilated. Two people, a woman and a child of about two years, have been injured although escaped the attack. The surviving woman identified the attackers as Banyabwisha.
Adjio Gidi, minister of the interior and security of the province, confirmed the information about the massacre, but rather attributes this attack to real ADF / NALU rebels. The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) is an Ungandan armed group that is suspected to have carried out a series of massacres in eastern Congo, according to U.N. figures killing more than 1,000 civilians since the start of 2019.
The eastern borderlands of the Democratic Republic Congo with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi are home to over 100 different constellations of militias, many of them remnants of the brutal civil war that officially ended 2003. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for many suspected ADF attacks in the past, but so far, according the U.N., there is no confirmation of a direct link between the two groups.
Violent conflicts between the ethnic minority of the indigenous Pygmies and the ethnic majority of the Bantu, which includes several ethnic groups like the Luba, have been going on for centuries. The Pygmies in the Congo are semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers, traditionally living in dense forests. The Luba live in neighboring towns and villages, largely making a living by trade and commerce. The pygmies have been discriminated for a long time by different ethnic groups of the Bantu majority. This includes forcing them to leave their ancestral lands, which are rapidly being destroyed by deforestation.
More recently, pressure and violence towards the Pygmies has been rising due to the government setting up national parks in areas that are the ancestral home of the pygmies, such as the Kahuzi-Biega National Park. This situation leads to increasingly violent conflicts between Pygmies and park guards. Foreign companies operating in this region fuel further (often violent) conflict by exploiting the countries natural resources with logging operations, mining concessions and carving out farm plots.
The pygmies, making up less than 1% of Congo’s population (with the Luba making up about 18% and the overall Bantu-majority about 80%) want to be represented by quotas in government. They have been victims of racial discrimination for a long time, even categorized as “sub-human” by the Belgians who colonized this area.
The atrocities towards these indigenous peoples must stop.
Our members of DGR Africa are documenting and speaking out about the ongoing violence in the region.
You can support our ally and DGR community in The Congo in their indigenous community forestry program. Donate to CAPITA ASBL via Bank Transfer to:
USD, Intitulé CAPITA ASBL V/C USD*
Featured image: Pygmy settlement in the rainforest
JMGRACIA100, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
- Report by Rossy, DGR Africa (personal communication)
- Forty-six civilians feared killed in eastern Congo attack, official says
- Kahuzi-Biega National Park – RFI
- Dozens massacred, bodies mutilated in DR Congo ethnic clashes