"We want an independent probe on the Burundi massacres"
Several Christians, mostly Congo nationals, gathered at Kigali's Restoration Church Monday, to commemorate one year since the death of more than 150 Congolese civilians killed at Gatumba refugee camp near Bujumbura on August 13, 2004.
The sombre service that attracted more than two hundred Congolese nationals also saw some sections of mourners carry banners with the words, 'We want an independent probe on the Burundi massacres'. Others shouted saying that the massacres could have been stopped. The outcries came in the wake of increased criticism of the UN's failure to curb the killings.
During the service, the pastor called upon Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to end ethnic and political differences in their respective countries.
Other personalities who gave speeches also lashed out at the soldiers of the United Nations peacekeeping force for their failure to contain the massacres.
The August 2004 victims, according to impeccable sources, were largely Rwandan-speaking Congolese often referred to as Banyamulenge. It is said that a force of armed militia, many of them members of the Forces for National Liberation (FNL) stormed Gatumba refugee camp and slaughtered about 152 innocent civilians and injured another 106.
A source speaking on condition of anonymity told this reporter that the massacre was 'more than just another case of ethnically-targeted slaughter in a region known for such horrors.' The massacres, he added, were meant to justify the continuing political conflicts between Burundi and the DRC.
Relatives of the victims have since called for an independent probe in the killings but the two governments have dragged their feet. Several mourners were heard by The New Times saying that political greed among contenders for power in the two countries instigated the bloodbath.
Mourners also blamed the Burundian armed forces for turning a deaf ear to the cries of many, since they were fully aware of what was taking place at the refugee camp.
Available information indicates that the massacres were carried out by a combined force of the Mai Mai, Interahamwe and the FNL, with the FNL claiming responsibility for the attacks.
Elsewhere, it was established that thousands of people gathered at the Rwandan/DRC border town of Goma to commemorate the Gatumba massacres.
Burundi, human rights, Current Affairs, Politics, Africa
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