INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Congolese community in Indianapolis is hoping to bring attention to a yearslong problem overseas: an ethnic cleansing in eastern Congo.
Indianapolis and other cities across the world gathered Friday for what’s called SOS Day. The global community has said “never again” when it comes to genocide, but protesters said the problem still exists in Congo, where death and devastation has taken place for years.
The group of protesters outside the Indiana Statehouse on Friday was part of a larger effort to bring attention the ethnic cleansing of the Banyamulenge people of Congo. In the last five years, according to the Mahoro Peace Association, thousands have died and been displaced, but it’s a story not being widely told.
“They want to chase them out of the Congo. Basically the mission is either to chase them out of the Congo or kill all of them,” said supporter Laurent Bujambi.
There’s another push to get world leaders to take a stand against it. Supporters said there’s been widespread silence. And in a world known to condemn acts of genocide, this one isn’t being included in that conversation.
“It’s very regrettable because the international community, the UN (United Nations), has decided to never again watch a genocide happen. But yet another genocide is ongoing right now in the Congo,” Felix Rwumbuguza, Mahoro state representative of Indiana, said through a translator.
The goal is not just condemning the actions but actually taking steps to stop them.
“We know we live in the most powerful nation in the world: the U.S. And we know the relationship the U.S. has with the Democratic Republic of Congo,” said Bujambi. “What we need is the U.S. government to put pressure on the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
Advocates said this kind of violence has happened off and on in Congo for decades. This is the latest one. And those advocates say problems like this, when they happen in Africa, are often overlooked. And said instead of overlooking the issues imagine the fear of not knowing what tomorrow will bring.
Amber Maze is a Holocaust educator and human rights associate with the Jewish Community Relations Council. She’s been following the situation in Congo: “It is so important to say that I stand with you I see you and I hear you.”
This story was updated to correct the name of the peace association and its Indiana representative, his title, and a quote from him.