This story is part of our ‘piece of the puzzle’ mini-series that shares the important work that our partners the Beni Peace Forum are doing on the ground in Eastern DR Congo:
Interrupting hate speech
“In November 2019, the national army (FARDC) increased its presence in Beni Territory as part of wide-scale operations against ADF in Eastern Congo. Often, soldiers are brought from other parts of the DRC and ethnic tensions between soldiers and local communities can flare up. In Mamiki, the Beni Forum’s ‘Local Protection Committee’ became aware of a soldier, originally from South Kivu, who was spouting hate speech and threatening the local population.
“I came from the Rwandan rebellion,” he is quoted as saying. “We will kill the entire population on the east side of the Oicha National Road. We will take your plots of land and your fields, because we have the documents to prove this is our property.” He went further to say, “TUTA BAKONDAKONDA” which means “We will behead you.” Speaking to the villagers, most of whom are from the Nande ethnic group and who have endured massacres since 2014, he began listing the villages that would be targeted, claiming that the leader of his company would verify this threat.
Instead of fleeing, people spoke to members of the Local Protection Committee who alerted BPF to what was happening. BPF contacted the soldier’s superiors as well as security officials in the area and explained the impact these threats were having on the people of Mamiki. Soon thereafter, the soldier was no longer present in the village. He may have been transferred to another location, or sanctioned in some other way. BPF does not have access to the internal processes of FARDC, but the people of Mamiki counted this as a successful de-escalation of identity-based harassment and threats.“
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