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Open Letter: A Nobel Peace Prize that has Become an Instrument to a Pogrom of a Minority?

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

Dr. Denis Mukwege has been criticized for taking a side in condemning attacks in highlands of Uvira, Fizi, and Mwenga territories, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Source: BBC

“These are the same that continue to kill in the DRC. The macabre accounts of Kipupu are in the same pattern of the massacres that have plagued the DRC since 1996. As long as impunity reigns and the recommendations of the United Nations mapping report are ignored, the massacres of the Congolese will continue,” Dr. Mukwege.

Dear Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Dr. Denis Mukwege,

My name is Fidele Sebahizi and I am a PhD student at Liberty University, in the United States, majoring in Criminal Justice: Homeland Security. I was born and raised in Bijombo, South Kivu, Congo. The Nobel Prize website lists you and Nadia Murad as the Nobel Peace Prize 2018 recipients. You have worked tirelessly to protect victims of sexual violence in eastern Congo. According to numerous reports, you really deserve this peace prize and I salute you for such an extraordinary bravery in a chaotic country. In addition, you have made our country proud although there are still many things to address and fix.

However, it is ridiculous and shocking to learn that you, a champion in combatting sexual violence in Congo, seem to be motivated to use your precious Nobel Peace Prize toward supporting malicious political schemes to exterminate a Congolese minority ethnic group, the Banyamulenge community. I am not going to explain in detail how Banyamulenge have been discriminately treated throughout many decades. I will remind you of one recent event. It has been more than three consecutive years that Banyamulenge are under heavy politically driven turmoil and violence from several directions, especially from armed groups, both Congolese and foreign, used by some Congolese politicians and military commanders, not to mention hidden hands of regional and international actors.

I am pretty sure you know and understand what is going on in Congo, specifically in the eastern part of it, where you reside. Since early 2017, the Banyamulenge community has lost hundreds of innocent people brutally killed in their villages by Mai Mai and their coalition. You probably know that the Congolese military has actively been playing a crucial role in assisting these armed groups to deteriorate the lives of Banyamulenge. In addition to perished lives, the Banyamulenge community has lost hundreds of thousands of their cattle and hundreds of their villages have completely been burned to the ground. There is enough evidence available to prove these numbers. As you probably know, Banyamulenge have left with only three or four living areas because most of their villages are no more. Even my home town, Bijombo, was regrettably abandoned due to Mai Mai attacks. The refugee camp of Mikenke is one of the few locations left for Banyamulenge. Yet, on May 18, 2020, this camp was attacked by Mai Mai. The U.N. peacekeepers, MONUSCO, are witness to this inhuman attack. Did you condemn this attack?

Between July 10 and 13, 2020, a Banyamulenge village, Kalingi, was attacked again by Mai Mai. They killed civilians and looted about 400 cows and took them to Kipupu. Did you condemn this attack? Have you condemned any attacks by Mai Mai against the Banyamulenge community? But, courageously, one day ago, according to Twitter, you posted a picture of yourself with the following words on the right side of it, “These are the same that continue to kill in the DRC. The macabre accounts of Kipupu are in the same pattern of the massacres that have plagued the DRC since 1996. As long as impunity reigns and the recommendations of the United Nations mapping report are ignored, the massacres of the Congolese will continue.” Who knows who you were referring to when you wrote “these” in the above Twitter post? I am wondering why you did not post or mention anything about Banyamulenge villages already destroyed. Do you think that this is an indication of being partial? Were you going to say anything if the Kipupu attack did not take place?

Your statement about the Kipupu attack can be viewed as if it is associated with a number of statements from various individuals, including politicians. Martin Fayulu, a former presidential candidate in Congo, is an example. He has denounced this attack, arguing that over 200 civilians were killed. Multiple local and national politicians from Bafuliru, Babembe, and other ethnic groups have done the same. Why denouncing massacres now? Many news sources have confirmed that Kivu Security Tracker (KST) researchers have provided a death toll of 18 people during this attack, not 220. As a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, why are you involved in such a cruel plan that aims to annihilate the Banyamulenge community? The role of being bias shouldn’t be yours. A true justice should be applicable to all ethnic groups alike, not just some, because Banyamulenge are also human beings who have tirelessly been begging national and international judicial institutions for justice.

Allow me to remind you that the Kipupu attack was a counterattack by Twirwaneho fighters, Banyamulenge civilians who have taken firearms to defend themselves and their properties. Twirwaneho means “let’s defend ourselves.” Twirwaneho itself announced their reason to conduct this counterattack operation against Mai Mai fighters in Kipupu. As mentioned above about Mai Mai attacks against Banyamulenge around the Kalingi area, Twirwaneho stated they conducted a counterattack to retrieve their cows taken by Mai Mai, and they did retrieve some of them, according to their sources.

As a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, please denounce all massacres alike. Unfortunately, you are not an ordinary citizen anymore because of your Nobel Peace Prize. A statement you make carries an enormous weight in the public arena. That is why I think you should pay an extra attention before you post anything on social media or news outlets. Waiting to speak out for more than three years of the killings of the Banyamulenge community indicates an abuse of your prize. It also indicates your real position when it comes to acts of genocide being committed against the Banyamulenge community. I understand your peace prize was based on your hard work against sexual violence, but it seems like you are using it as a weapon to kill innocent Banyamulenge civilians. I would encourage you to avoid taking a side in conflicts. This looks very bad on you. A crime is a crime, whether committed by a side you support or not. As a pastor and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, please let politicians play their games. If you feel the urge of involving yourself in bringing justice on the Congolese soil or elsewhere, then ensure you play the right card. All Congolese citizens have the same rights and starve for equal justice. While this letter may not impact your precious Nobel Peace Prize and I wish it does not, I hope it serves the purpose of a turning point for you in the future. Again, thank you for your hard work.


Fidele Sebahizi

PhD Student

Criminal Justice: Homeland Security

Liberty University, Virginia, U.S.A.

CC The Norwegian Nobel Institute

Dr. Mukwege's Twitter Post (

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