Scouts around the world celebrated the international day dedicated to them, 22 February.
In DRC, the day was also well celebrated by the Bunyakiri Scouts Group in the Kalehe Territory, within the South Kivu Province. The celebration was realized with the technical and financial support of Synergie d’Initiatives pour les Grands Lacs, SYNIGL.
Celebrated under the theme « Zero Youth in Armed Groups, but Committed Youth for Peace and Justice in the Great Lakes Region », from 21 to 24 February 2019, large-scale activities were carried out for several categories of people living in Bunyakiri.
On February 21, 2019, a meeting with young former children soldiers was held. During this meeting, 87 former children soldiers, and now members of the Scout Movement, had to share their experience on the one hand as former members of armed groups and on the other hand as young artisans of peace and justice.
Rotatively, these young former children soldiers shared with the other participants the very harmful consequences that their brief stay in armed groups could have caused to their life as well as to the entire community. The cost to be paid for it is and remains so high. Both readaption and reintegration to normal life in the same community they abused remains a big challenge.
After, they invited their fellow youth not to yield to politicians and other warlords false promises inviting them to join their armed movements for selfish ends.
At the end, they all apologized to their youth companions for having betrayed and tarnished their image through their activism within armed movements. As a remedy, they all committed to give their very best, through the Scout movement, to work no matter the price for sustained peace building and human rights defence.
As for February 22, a door-to-door awareness campaign was carried out targeting all young girls and boys living in Bunyakiri. The activity aimed at sensitizing other youth explaining to them the necessity for committed scouting for peace, social cohesion and human rights promotion. Scouting is a youth volunteering movement preaching love for the neighbor, God and the nation seeking to adapt itself to daily life realities within the communities it is being implemented. Therefore, their interlocutors were invited to massively join the movement to take up the challenge together: United youth striving for peace and justice.
Last but not least, on February 24, 2019, a conference was held for men and women members of the Bunyakiri community under the theme « Bunyakiri populace, violence will not pass by us: I disassociate and denounce”. At least 643 people attended. During his speech, the speaker of the day, Mr. Marc Mushamalirwa, member of Synigl, invited the participants to identify and list all forms of violation of which they were once and or continue to be victims.
Taking the floor, participants in turn cited:
- Sexual harassment,
- Physical and psychological tortures,
- Arbitrary arrests,
- Domestic violence,
- Children recruitment into armed groups,
- Kidnapping, kidnapping,
- Precocious marriage,
- Exploitation of children in Mining sites and or for sexual sakes …
In revenge, the speaker wished to identify, together with the participants, who in their community could be the perpetrators of all this violence. Very quickly, the audience cited armed groups, the police, the army, former members of armed groups, Intelligence agents, some delinquent youth and politico-administrative authorities.
Yet, the speaker went back to the fact that everyone from near and far, by action or omission could also contribute to the climate of conflict and violence. In a participatory manner, the participants agreed and began to quote, helped by the speaker, behaviors that could engage the responsibility of each member of the community. These include:
- Not denouncing the perpetrators of violence;
- Failure to assist the victims of violence;
- Sexually exploitation of minors in mining sites and in other activities that exposes them to violence;
- The fact of committing acts that undermine modesty;
- Amicable settlement with rapists and serious crimes authors
- collaboration with perpetrators of violence;
- Sale or excessive consumption of drugs;
- Making slanderous allegations;
- Fueling hatred, etc.
Faced with these realities, the participants measured their responsibility and resolved to fight against all these behaviors through all legal means. A contest, sketches and several poems on human rights as well as on the role of youth in the pacification process were produced to cheer the participants.
The territory of Kalehe and especially Bunyakiri zone has been torn up by armed conflicts since the two last decades. Not only is the result so huge in terms of victims, but also in terms of human rights violations and material damage.
Almost all the youth were forced into the armed groups, schools have been burned, women and girls are daily raped, men and women are slaughtered and or mutilated, houses are burned, villages are abandoned, gardens are mined, people are extremely poor, firearms are uncontrollably spread within the community etc.
The zone deserves a very particular attention. It is in this perspective that it, Bunyakiri, has become one of SYNIGL’s primary concerns given the danger magnitude that it particularly represents for the entire Congolese nation and for the Great Lakes Region in general.
Event in images