Members of IfE’s regional network for Batwa rights in the African Great Lakes region are conducting an investigation into widespread atrocities in Tanganyika Province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This province, formerly known as Katanga, suffers from ongoing conflict as impoverished communities vie for access to land and resources. Batwa are especially targeted for a number of reasons, including discrimination by neighboring communities, lack of enforced legal protections, and the fact that they have traditionally held much of the land.
As original Indigenous inhabitants of the region, the Batwa (also called Bambuti) hold traditional indigenous land rights, and are therefore subject to brutal attacks as other communities attempt to take the land. The larger context creating incentives for the violence is the international extractives economy, which is interested in obtaining the minerals in this region which include gold, copper, coltan and cobalt.
Massacres and mass rapes of Batwa in this region have been taking place at a greatly increased rate since 2016. Local and provincial authorities, the DRC’s national armed forces, and the UN’s peacekeeping force (MONUSCO) have not stepped in to stop the atrocities. Recently, an opportunity presented itself to document these atrocities. With funding provided to our regional network, Reseau Initiative for Equality (RIFE), by Urgent Action Fund-Africa, our partners (unnamed for their security) will take advantage of this window of opportunity to collect documentation through photos and interviews.
Results of the investigation will be brought to international attention in our ongoing attempt to stop the massacres and protect the Batwa people in this region.