While Americans were remembering the fallen this Memorial Day weekend, another somber ceremony took place almost 10,000 miles away in a battered refugee camp in Rwanda. Congolese residents of the Gihembe camp honored family and friends who were massacred by Interahamwe militias during the genocide against Congolese Tutsi in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi. The ethnic cleansing continues to this day in DRC, with FDLR militias still at large, comprised of remnants of those who committed the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. DRC’s President Joseph Kabila has refused to cooperate with the UN stabilization mission (MONUSCO) to finally eliminate the FDLR.
I was able to participate in this ceremony in a very unusual way. While informally meeting with Congolese refugees in Rwanda in March, I was asked to attend.