Fuelled by unsparing anger, young Congolese men, belonging to the movement Raïa Mutomboki, will do anything to defend their families against the FDLR, a Hutu militia formed after the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Read Part 1 of this story, published on Wednesday 19 September.
By Mélanie Gouby, Goma
In the past year, Raïa Mutomboki have multiplied attacks in North and South Kivu, in a killing spree that spared neither civilians nor soldiers. The movement has developed a chain of command that is more centralised than meets the eye.
For years, the actions of the movement remained very localised and confined to the Shabunda territory in South Kivu. Few people paid attention to these angry and disorganised young villagers. But in May 2012, the movement expanded and the Raïa Mutomboki were present in regions as far as Walikale and Masisi, towns in the north of the province.
“If you want to put an end to the attacks of red ants, you need to go to the source," explains Kikuni, the movement’s second in command. "Once we were done with the operation here in Shabunda, we told ourselves that these people might still come back, so let us now look for the source. If we neutralise Masisi (and Walikale), we are confident we can put an end to the FDLR.”
Under the command of their leader Eyadema, the Raïa crossed the Kahuzi-Biega National Park on their way to Walikale and Masisi. They travel in small groups to ensure the continuity of their struggle. These satellite groups enjoy a certain level of autonomy but must report to the high commander who is based in the forest near Nduma, north of Shabunda.
The reports are carried by messengers who cross the jungle on foot to maintain communication between the headquarters and units in the field. Some commanders, like Kikuni, have satellite phones to stay connected in areas where mobile network coverage is almost inexistent.
“We are in constant communication. I am here to deliver a work report from Walikale to the officers in Nduma,” explains 26-year-old Dieudonné, who has walked the whole distance between the two towns.
The fighting in Masisi territory is a particularly vicious one. In the Ufamandu area, in the south, hundreds of people have been killed in a series of attacks launched since May. These attacks clearly target Kinyarwanda-speaking populations, no matter whether they are Hutus or Tutsis. Women and children are not spared.
“We attacked Ufamandu because the Bafamandu sided with the FDLR, and we attack the FDLR and their allies,” says Kikuni. According to the Angry Villagers, they slit the throats of “only” 15 FDLR soldiers in Ufamandu and the civilians allegedly fled into the forest.
This xenophobic character of the Raïa Mutomboki movement showed its brutal face also in October 2011, when Congolese army troops (Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo) were deployed in Shabandu after months of training.
The Angry Villagers rejected their authority and mandate and accused the army commanders, of Hutu and Tutsi origins, of being Rwandans and supporting the FDLR forces. Violent clashes ensued on 6 May 2012 and Nduma was on fire once again.
Story of vengence
It appears that Colonel Buyra, a Hutu FARDC commander, allegedly set fire to the village avenging the massacre of his family by the Angry Villagers.
While the Congolese army denied all responsibility for the fire, Raïa Mutomboki, on the other hand, have admitted to killing Buyra’s family. “It’s Buyra’s fault,” says Maurice Sambamba, the spokesperson of the Nduma Christian community, pointing at burnt houses. “He took revenge for his family’s killing. He had family there, his mother and brothers, we killed them all mercilessly.”
The deadliest of vengeful acts are easily justified among the populations of Shabunda. Just like the young fighters, they are convinced of Raïa Mutomboki’s legitimacy, especially in light of the great amount of suffering they have endured.