North Kivu: Six community leaders pledge to fight hate speech and speech used to incite violence
Hunde, Hutu, Nande, Nyanga, Tembo and Tutsi community leaders gathered on Monday 6 June 2022 in Goma for a press café organized by MONUSCO. This meeting aimed to sensitize them and to plead with them for social cohesion and peaceful coexistence between their communities, in a fragile security context marked by the resumption of hostilities between the FARDC and the M23 rebels in Rutshuru territory.
Addressing the participants, MONUSCO head of office in Goma, Laila Bourhil, emphasized the important role that community leaders play in promoting unity and social cohesion. "Your role as community representatives is more than crucial in these efforts and in the preservation of social cohesion. Your voice and the values you convey must be heard, and now more than ever, you are showing an example of unity and reason through your presence and commitment," she said.
Ms. Bourhil was pleased to see these community leaders speak "the same language" of unity in the province. "You speak the same language, the language of being united in the same spirit and the same feeling. You not only represent the communities, but through your wisdom, which is very commendable, you are also the image of their aspirations and their hopes. And as they say, this wisdom is more valuable than precious pearls," she continued, urging them to keep on exercising this wisdom for the good of their communities.
"I encourage you to urge each and every one not to lapse into division, rumors, misinformation, hatred, violence, resentments and grudges especially in these difficult times. We must, with you, and by your side, engage together along the path of peaceful coexistence, by privileging the right tone, consultation and dialogue" she said.
She concluded by recalling that "any kingdom divided against itself is devastated, and any city or house divided against itself cannot stand”. She added: "Do not let your differences be used to divide you but use your differences as an example of your unity and mutual acceptance. That is your strength".
Her words were echoed by the community leaders present who, in a participatory approach, invited the members of their respective communities not to give in to provocation but to adopt peaceful behaviors to combat the rise of hate speech and attempts to divide communities in North Kivu.
At the end of the meeting, the six community leaders signed a joint communiqué that was shared with the various journalists present for a wide dissemination of their message.
In this communiqué, they reiterate their commitment to always promote good understanding and peaceful coexistence between all communities in North Kivu, with the aim of preserving peace, security and ensuring the economic development of the DRC. They also urge all political and civil society actors to refrain from any form of incitement to hatred and violence and to express their demands peacefully and legally.
A few weeks earlier, on May 18th, these communities had also met with the joint delegation of the government of the DRC and the government of Kenya as part of the Nairobi consultations process.