Wear yellow on Sunday for peace in Congo
This blog is written by Vava Tampa, a native of Congo and founder of the London based campaign group Save the Congo!. He is the Coordinator of #YellowSunday
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) hasn’t been headline news recently, but that doesn’t mean that the country has been experiencing a period of stability. In fact, quite the opposite is true.
In Beni, north-eastern Congo, people are being massacred. Last month, dozens of photos surfaced showing lifeless bodies of 17 children and women in a pool of blood. This was the latest in a string of massacres that began on 2 October 2014 when over 250 innocent civilians were killed with machetes, hammers, hoes and axes over three months.
Since then, a week has gone by without reports of brutal violence against defenceless people who have no place to hide and no one to turn to.
A recent report by the United Nations’ Group of Experts on Congo alleges the killings are being fuelled by none other than one of President Joseph Kabila’s closest allies: Brig. Gen. Muhindo Akili, known as ‘Mundos’.
The report accuses Mundos of ‘recruiting and supplying armed groups involved in these brutal attacks.’ In some cases, the recruits were promised up to $250 for every person they kill. To date, the Congolese authorities have completely failed to investigate the deaths of these innocent people and no one has been held accountable for the massacres.
A brutal history
This isn’t the first time the people of Congo have been brutally slaughtered this way. According to the last International Rescue Committee mortality report, over 5.4 million Congolese were killed between 1998 and 2008 – with barely any substantial international action taken against the perpetrators. The same report estimates that 1,500 people continue to die (with 1,100 women and young girls raped) every single day as a consequence.
So what can we do to help? We need to show solidarity with those under fire and appeal to the international community to step in.
This Sunday, for the first time, tens of thousands of people — including victims and survivors of the Congo Wars as well as students, activists, artists, religious leaders and ordinary people from across the globe — will be taking to social media to call on the UK, US, EU, AU and the UN Special Envoy to Africa’s Great Lakes Region to act decisively and courageously to call for a comprehensive investigation into the massacres of Beni and the prosecution of those responsible of such horrific acts.
We are calling it #YellowSunday.
What you need to do:
- Wear something yellow in solidarity with the Congolese people
- Take a selfie, or get your friend to take a picture of you
- Tweet/Facebook/Instagram it using #YellowSunday
Be sure to include your picture!
To Danae Dholakia, UK Special Envoy to Africa’s Great Lakes
.@danaedholakia I’m going yellow this #YellowSunday to urge free elections in DRC. Will you?
To Matata Ponyo, Prime Minister of DRC
.@Mapon_Matata this #YellowSunday I’m calling on you to ensure free & fair elections in DRC:
Please encourage your friends, families, community and political representative to join you in going yellow.
It’s a simple message that’s catching on. In Congolese mythology, yellow symbolises wealth – and the greatest wealth Congo has is its people: the Congolese people. By wearing yellow on Sunday, the first ever Congo Day of Action, you’ll not only be drawing attention to the killings in Beni and elsewhere in Congo, and remembering the millions who have been killed in the Congo Wars – but also standing for peace, justice and democracy in Congo.
Put simply, if you care about Congo, about Beni, justice or democracy, wear yellow on #YellowSunday and make your voice heard. Tweet your pictures alongside your message, urging concrete actions to end massacres and political repression across Congo, and calling for free and fair elections, to the UK, US, EU, AU and UN Special Envoy using hashtag #YellowSunday.
Although there is no single solution to a complex problem like Congo, there is growing evidence that ending impunity for crimes of international concern, strengthening the UN Peacekeeping force, MONUSCO, and, above all, ensuring that a free and fair presidential election is held in line with Congo’s constitution can save lives and address issues that give rise to wars and conflicts in Congo, especially if they are implemented in parallel.
And achieving all this demands a sustained response from all of us to mark a true turning point in the UK, US, EU and AU policies and strategies toward Congo.
Amnesty International, Action Kivu, Christian Aid, Front Citoyen, GATT–RN, the pro-democracy youth movement “Filimbi”, Human Rights Watch, Young Congolese Professional (YPC), Student Action Network (STAN) Committee, Revive Congo, Voice of Congo, Panzi Hospital and many organisations like the one I lead, Save the Congo!, to name but some, will all in their own way be going yellow.
Will you join us?
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.