Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
Session A1 2: African Genocides
Monday, 19/July/2021:
12:00pm - 1:30pm

Session Chair: Christopher P Davey, Brigham Young University, United States of America
Location: Room 2


Social Media and Prosecution of Mass Atrocities: The Nigerian #EndSARS and #LekkiMassacre in Perspective

Harrison Adewale Idowu

Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Nigeria

In what had begun as a peaceful protest against Police brutality in Nigeria, as the #EndSARS movement, the atmosphere took a drastic turn when, on 20 October 2020, men of the Nigerian Army opened fire on peaceful protesters at one of the biggest sites for the protest in Lekki, Lagos State, Nigeria. While many were feared dead and many more injured during the event, there had been unrelenting attempts by the powers that be, either to deny that the event ever took place, or to cover up the magnanimity of the atrocity melted on harmless protesters on the fateful day. Nevertheless, the social media rose to the occasion and influenced by not only exposing that indeed the atrocity took place, but also fuelling the crisis through the spread of fake news related to the incident. Owing to glaring posts and outcry especially on a popular social media handle, Twitter, the government had back tracked and set up a panel of inquiry to unravel those behind the #LekkiMassacre and prosecute anyone found culpable. What role did the social media play in exposing the atrocities of a special anti-robbery Police unit of the Nigeria Police (SARS), and the atrocity committed through #LekkiMassacre? How has it played this role to propel the ongoing prosecution process? This is the thrust of this paper. The paper adopts the exploratory research design and the qualitative method. Data will be sourced from Twitter where atrocities of Police brutality and the #LekkiMassacre trended the most. Tweets on #EndSARS and #LekkiMassacre which exposed atrocities of Police brutality and #LekkiMassacre and made room for the ongoing prosecution process, will be extracted from Twitter using Python. This is to enable a robust analysis of how social media influenced these issues. Data extracted will be analysed using discourse analysis.

Under the Shadow of Violence: Slow Genocide of the Banyamulenge in Eastern DRC

Delphin Rukumbuzi Ntanyoma

Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands, The

The Eastern DRC has, for decades, been experiencing recurring violence originating from several motives and causes. However, colonialism and racial categorization coupled with the reified post-colonial autochthony has left the Banyamulenge identified as “immigrants” and locally stateless as their local chiefdoms were abolished by colonial administrators. Regardless of evidence that the Banyamulenge have settled in what became the Democratic Republic of Congo for centuries, they have been contested and massacred as “non-native”, facing a slow genocide frozen within the complexity of violence in Eastern DRC that followed the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Since the 1960s post-independence violence in DRC, the Banyamulenge have been specifically targeted by Congolese state and non-state actors such as MaiMai and other militias across the Congolese territory and abroad. Banyamulenge’s killings have been preceded by public officials' calls dehumanizing the entire community. For a half-century, men, young boys, and unarmed military soldiers have constituted the primary target of the perpetrators. The intent to annihilate the Banyamulenge has also resolved to use indirect methods such as besiegement, impoverishment, inhuman treatment while erasing or hiding evidence. The slow annihilation using similar modus operandi for roughly five decades is ideologically linked to the 1960s Simba rebellion. Considered by the Mai-Mai and local militias as ‘invaders’, the Banyamulenge have been forced to flee their homeland en masse that largely narrows accessible territories. The remaining Banyamulenge in South Kivu are currently besieged, starved; their villages destroyed; their economy and source of livelihood annihilated. Against this backdrop of the Banyamulenge’s situation, the Eastern DRC complexity of violence and constructed denial arguments overshadow this plight widely reported as tit-for-tat violence opposing armed groups affiliated to ethnic communities or simply as inter-community clashes.

Is Your Silence an Acquiescence? Genocide Is Underway and more Widespread Atrocities just around the Corner in DRC

Naupess Kibiswa

African Center for Peace, Democracy, and Human Rights (ACPD), Universites Catholiques du Congo (UCC) et de Bukavu (UCB) and ISTM-KIN; Congo, Democratic Republic of the

The violent conflict in DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo) is the longest humanitarian crisis in Africa and the world most forgotten one by decision-makers, scholars, and the medias. Yet, it has made more casualties than any other and may even wipe away the whole DRC. This paper aims at alerting again the world’s largest community of genocide scholars about the ongoing genocide and mass atrocities (GMA) in the DRC after the unnoticed call made at the 2019 Phnom Penh conference. Its goal is to lead this community to openly act to help stop that scourge. It presents a quick GMA risk assessment showing that almost all categories of GMA risk factors and warning signs as defined by credible institutions in the field are present in the DRC. Among the multiple signs are the monthly average of about 100 deaths and the establishment of imported populations on DRC areas left by the savagely massacred or displaced indigenous populations, the most active killers being foreign armed groups from Uganda and Rwanda. The paper also summarizes ongoing events that seem to be accelerating factors towards the one that would trigger widespread atrocities nationwide, including more genocides and counter-genocides. It finally highlights some striking coincidences between the current situations in the African Great Lakes Region and that that led to the Holocaust in Europe. Due to the weaknesses of the DRC state since its occupation by armies from Rwanda and Uganda since 1996, external and strong midstream prevention initiatives and actions are needed from the UN and the world’s major powers to reverse the fate planned for the DRC populations and state.

The politics of commemorating genocide in the digital age: France and the 25th anniversary of the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda

Narelle Fletcher

University of Technology Sydney, Australia, Australia

April 2019 marked the 25th anniversary of the genocide targeting the Tutsi ethnic group in Rwanda. This milestone gave rise to major commemorative events in Rwanda and in a number of other locations throughout the world. In particular, the anniversary attracted significant attention in France, both from President Macron and the French media, which led to the genocide being a prominent subject in the French public sphere. This renewed interest in Rwanda is especially noteworthy given the complex relationship between the two countries in the wake of France’s involvement in the genocide under the presidency of François Mitterrand.

In the 21st century, the digital format offers its own unique advantages and constraints that reframe the act of commemoration, liberating it from the frequent traditional anchor of a physical place. A considerable corpus of audio, visual and textual documentation in digital format was assembled in France for the 25th anniversary of the Tutsi genocide by national media and by government-supported institutions such as the Shoah Memorial in Paris. This corpus constitutes an important legacy in its own right, providing both insight into the genocide and also into the politics of commemoration underpinning the selection and presentation of the material in question. This paper will elucidate the impact of the digital format on the process of commemoration of the Tutsi genocide targeting a specific audience outside of Rwanda, in France. It will also explore some of the broader considerations concerning the privileged interpersonal channels of communication created by the digital age, and how these formats can lend themselves not only to commemoration, but to the ever optimistic pursuit of genocide prevention.