A protest that unfolded on the morning of Wednesday, August 30th, in Goma, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), resulted in the tragic loss of at least ten lives. The demonstrators, affiliated with a mystical-religious group, were rallying for the departure of both MONUSCO (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC) and the Eastern Africa Community’s peacekeeping force.
These entities have been accused of inaction in the face of rising insecurity in the eastern part of the DRC. The demonstration had been explicitly prohibited by the municipal authorities of Goma.
At the break of dawn, at around three in the morning, Goma awoke to a state of agitation. Members of a sect identifying as anti-imperialist departed from their headquarters in Karisimbi, embarking on a march towards the MONUSCO headquarters. Many among them donned traditional raffia outfits, emblematic of their beliefs.
However, their advancement was swiftly halted by a robust security deployment, which had been established the previous day by the joint efforts of the police and the military. These confrontations escalated, resulting in an augmented presence of law enforcement personnel at the movement’s headquarters.
It was during this intervention that the majority of the casualties were recorded. Tragically, a police officer lost his life, struck by stones hurled by the crowd. Medical facilities, such as the CBCA Medical Center, found themselves inundated as they treated the injured, some of whom had been wounded by gunfire.
According to several sources, the official count provided by the military might underestimate the true toll. After these events, numerous individuals were apprehended. The military has described them as “drug-addled and manipulated criminals,” suggesting that they were acting by a meticulously orchestrated plan by Ephraim Bisimwa, the purported leader of the movement. In fact, Bisimwa had mobilized his followers for a week leading up to the protest, urging Goma’s populace to take to the streets. The repercussions of these occurrences were so profound that activities in the Ndosho and Majengo neighborhoods remained disrupted well into the afternoon.