Benilubero: Hello lady! Let us tell you how much Benilubero is happy to receive you and thank you on behalf of its readers for having contacted us to give your testimony in relation to the massacres in general and the killings of the peacekeepers in Beni. What motivated you, you say, not to be silent anymore, is the death of the 14 peacekeepers who have just been murdered on the Mbau-Kamango road. Your accusations are serious. Because they denounce the responsibility of the international community in these massacres. You even go as far as to say that they were planned by the latter and that Monusco is only there to support the realization of the project of occupation of the lands of the Nande by the Rwandans. How did you come to this conviction? Have you witnessed the events that today lead you to accuse the international community of being not only complicit but also co-perpetrators of the massacres in Beni and accomplices in the killings of Tanzanian peacekeepers?
Benilubero: But before we get there, do you want to introduce yourself to our readers? Do you want to tell them who you are? Where are you right now?
Ms Vulo: My name is Vulo Emerentienne (at the request of our host, Benilubero uses a pseudonym for security reasons). I am Congolese. But I am currently living abroad.
Benilubero: Huuuuuuummmm! That’s amazing. How can you tell the story of Beni thousands of miles away from where you are now?
Ms. Vulo: I was not born abroad. I did not grow up abroad. It is precisely because I have witnessed the troublesome facts on the ground that I find myself today in exile.
Benilubero: Oh good!
Ms. Vulo: I was born in North Kivu. This is where I grew up and studied. After graduating from an on-site university, I went to work in Butembo with the NGO MEDICAL RELIEF LASTING CARE, a UK NGO that is commonly known as the NGO MERLIN. It is based in London.
Benilubero: And what was its mission?
Ms. Vulo: I think it is still in the Congo. At the time, it was in charge of the distribution of primary health care medicines for displaced people in the territory of Lubero and Beni, the strengthening of the capacities of the medical staff, the payment of the agents’ premiums in the health zones. In these health zones, it was also responsible for financing operating costs but also to rehabilitate or build some health centers or hospitals, including operating sites.
Benilubero: So a European NGO. To hear you speak, its mission is humanitarian. And as you describe this NGO, it has nothing to do with the massacres.
At first, yes. But to tell the truth, a mountain where wolves shelter. Hold on ! In 2010, the European Union wrote to my boss and asked him to draft a health project for the population of Beni that would, she said, leave her fields in the next three or four years. We are in 2010, on the eve of the elections. And this region knows no conflicts. My boss tells me about it and tells me that there is something under the rock. After discernment, he concludes that something dramatic is being prepared at the level of the international community against the people of Beni and drops an enigmatic sentence: « hypocrisy has limits. We must not continue to live on the blood of the innocent! No, I will not lead the project. This decision will cost the NGO dearly. It will no longer be funded. Six months later, our leader resigns, returns to his country in Canada and the base of Butembo is closed for lack of discernment.
Benilubero: You say that the European Union had planned that people would have to leave their land in the next three years to join the major cities. And for that your NGO had been asked in some way for the care of these displaced populations.
Ms. Vulo: Affirmative
Benilubero: And that’s what happened, 3 years later, in 2013. This is the beginning of kidnappings, killings and displacements that will reach the climax in 2014. Indeed, we remember the threats that Lambert Mende had launched the population to leave their land and join the big cities, for fear of being considered as ADF when the FARDC were going to launch an offensive.
Ms. Vulo: Indeed! With hindsight, and especially when the massacres began in 2014, I quickly realized that the project in question would have served to install these populations in large cities and gave the impression that Merlin was helping these poor refugees. While actually everything was already planed. And over time, I am convinced that there is a hand hidden at the international level.
I add another curious fact. The massacres were intense especially in the part that is considered the granary of Beni and Lubero or even Goma. We were in the middle of harvesting fields and harvesting cocoa, rice and bananas. As you know, these products did not rot in the fields. The beneficiaries were the new land masters who harvested them and brought them to Uganda.
Benilubero: As a woman on the ground, did you have the opportunity to identify these new masters?
Ms. Vulo: Yes. In 2014, in full massacres, I was hired by the NGO ZOA (ZID OUEST AZIA), a Dutch organization. In the territory of Beni, particularly in the Rwenzori sector, it was present by the Buza project. They were involved in agriculture, nutrition, protection and community governance. They also helped village savings and loan associations. On land ZOA was not very visible because it worked with local national organizations, including Epvi, Apader, CONCENKI … I was then engaged first as an investigator for the data harvest of this project Buza.
This work with ZOA DRC allowed me to travel all these areas of massacres. And unfortunately, it showed me that indeed the international community through MONUSCO was working with the murderers to drive people out of their lands.
Benilubero: So you saw it personally with the slaughterers?
Ms Vulo: Yes and no. In full massive displacement of the population Nande who fled the massacres, leaving behind their fields to the slaughterers, my local direct leader of ZOA, a Hutu, should have writen a project urgently drafting a project to help this population. So we had to go down to Eringeti to ask some questions to local people and authorities and come up with statistics that are close to reality.
Along the way, we are in May 2015, we have a large military presence, 99% of morphology and Rwandan language, especially in the area of Mai Mai where, if you remember, many massacres were committed.
On the road, we found an amazing fact. We saw Dina and Fuso branded vehicles rented by MONUSCO, delivering food on the roadside. A few hours later, we heard gunshots. At the same time, the Monusco stopped all the vehicles on both sides of the place where the food was deposited, supposedly that the enemy had just made an incursion. Some of them then pretended to go to the place. And an hour later, they opened the way. When we returned, the food was gone where we had seen them a few hours before. For us, there was no doubt, the shots were fired to allow the slaughterers to come and remove the goods and Monusco was there to accompany this operation of massacres. And we understood why many massacres were happening a few meters from the camps either FARDC or Monusco without them intervene.
Benilubero: And so for you, it’s clear. Both the army and Monusco, all are well and truly involved in the massacres?
Ms. Vulo: Oh yes. You know, this data collection work also brought us to meet the military leaders on the ground. In this area of Eringeti, for example, we could see the delivery of weapons and military uniforms to the base of our FARDC. Often it is night or day after the supply that the camp was attacked. Most of the time, the officer in charge gave the order to the soldiers to retreat. Those who resisted were killed. The enemy arrived, used and disappeared in the wild without being disturbed.
Around December 2015, there was an attack. Tanzanian peacekeepers had discovered that our Congolese soldiers were involved in the killings. Thus, during an attack, having noticed that the enemy wore the Congolese military uniform, they pursued them and killed a large number of them. When the operation returned, there was an ambush and almost all were killed. Neither the FARDC authorities nor Monusco has ever delivered the exact number of peacekeepers killed in this attack. Only three escaped this attack. To tell the truth, this ambush was led by another group of the Monusco, I believe, Pakistanis, so that the situation is not known.
Benilubero: But how did you know it, since you did not witness the attack or the ambush anyway?
Ms Vulo: We were in the middle during the attack. In that ambush, three Tanzanian peacekeepers were miraculously saved. One of them took refuge with us because he was afraid to return to their base. He was thought to have been killed too. It was he who brought us all this. We helped him to leave the middle. And once in Beni, he was repatriated immediately to his country.
You understand that all these facts, I could not not conclude that, in addition to the army, the international community supported and condoned these massacres. And I bet that the Tanzanian peacekeepers who have just been killed on the road to Mbau-Kamango are paying their determination to put an end to this hypocrisy of Monusco and the FARDC.
Benilubero: Indeed, one wonders why it is the Tanzanian peacekeepers who are paying a heavy price in the various ambushes and attacks against the Monusco. This deserves a thorough investigation. Let’s go back to the presence of Rwandophones in the community. Did you see them in town?
Ms. Vulo: Thank you for the question. It allows me to give another very surprising fact in this context of the massacres. It was rare to note the presence of Tutsis. On the other hand, the Hutus who resemble us were very present. The Ntony neighborhood was flooded with Hutu. I saw them with my own eyes meeting several times at night in a house a few feet from the PAX house that belonged to the Adventists. And in our Mandradel neighborhood there were also Rwandans. More and more their 10-year-old children were coming to play in our neighborhood because one of their moms was dating us and saying that they came from Rutsuru. I do not know by what miracle I had the reflex to ask some of them which area of Rutsuru they came from and why they had trouble expressing themselves in Swahili easily. It was then that they answered innocently that they did not know Rutsuru but that they arrived directly from Rwanda.
Benilubero: Just the opposite of what was said in the media.
Ms. Vulo: Unfortunately. After this revelation, we were wary of the presence of these young Rwandans at home and asked if they were not spies. Some friends and I started to mobilize the youth but also moms of the neighborhood on the threats that weighed on us if we did not take care of ourselves. On the one hand, the young people organized themselves and at night they were going to make noise around the houses occupied by the Hutus. And on the other, the mothers had decided to approach Hutu women more and more and to have as a subject of conversation with them only the massacres of the Nande by the Rwandans and the hatred against the Rwandans that this is in the process to arouse in the local populations. The strategy will pay off, because a few weeks later, the Hutus will empty the neighborhood and disappear in the wild, without anyone knowing what direction they had taken.
Benilubero: Besides these facts that make one think, have you experienced other events that challenge the actions of international NGOs and expose their involvement in the massacres in Beni.
You remember the famous interception of a truck coming from Goma by the people of Beni, in the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ compound, and contained reviews for Jehovah’s Witnesses and hoes, machetes, knives, and hammers. The driver will later reveal that Jehovah’s Witnesses had nothing to do with it but that the goods belonged to the NGO LWF. The vehicle was released thanks to an intervention of the mayor of the city.
Benilubero: Yes, we remember the fact well and benilubero echoed it.
Ms Vulo: A few days after this incident, FAO held a meeting at OCHA headquarters in Beni for all the NGOs working in the field and during which it banned any NGO buying these instruments of death, whatever the project.
Benilubero: You were there?
Ms. Vulo: Yes. I was there. My heart was growing full of rage and hatred. I started to talk about these topics with my hierarchy. Far from sympathizing with the people, they told me that I was committed to the humanitarian and not to politics.
Benilubero: Your outspokenness, your determination to organize young people did not cause you any trouble!
Ms. Vulo: Of course. You really have the 6th sense that makes you anticipate things
Benilubero: And so you did not feel safe anymore? Was your life more and more dangerous?
Ms. Vulo: Yes. You know it, that bad talk of the Congolese government is always pursued by security services. We had been visited at home by bandits more than three times but without reaching their goals. We had an acquaintance among the officers of the army who lived not far from us. And every time we were visited, within a minute he sent soldiers to dissuade the bandits from taking off. And the threats were so strong and recurrent that I had to flee to Kinshasa. And from Kinshasa, I had to take the road of exile to this day.
Benilubero: Tell me, madam: if one day you were asked to testify to these facts in a court of law, would you be ready to introduce yourself?
Ms. Vulo: Of course, but provided that Joseph Kabila’s regime is no longer in power. Just look at what is happening in Beni to understand that with this regime, all truth will be stifled, along with witnesses.
Benilubero: Thank you very much, Mrs. Vulo, for your testimony which will not fail to enlighten the opinion on this vast plot against our country.
Ms. Vulo: I thank you! I live in exile. But my heart stayed in the country. I have no doubt. The ADF, the armed groups mai mai have nothing to do with the massacres of our mothers, our brothers, our sisters … It is a vast conspiracy of the international community against our country. And Joseph was put there for the execution of this plot. You understand then why this international community which did not hesitate to intervene in Ivory Coast, Libya, Iraq, Syria, refuses to put an end to this ordeal, even after the assassination of its agents. I appeal to our people: they must not believe in the declarations of this or that foreign president, a Secretary General of Monusco, who gives the impression of sympathizing with us or of helping us through the humanitarian. It’s pure hypocrisy and sleeping pills. I have no doubt, international NGOs, Monusco and the army in its current constitution, are instruments that this international community uses to realize their project. When our people become aware of it and will be convinced of it, I am sure, will be the beginning of our liberation and our independence.