Videos of the anti-Rwanda protests are going viral on social media as Kinshasa accuses Kigali of supporting rebels in the eastern DRC.
Life in Kinshasa was going well for Zawadi, a mother of two from Rwanda, until distant skirmishes sparked Congolese anger towards her country and videos of the people. Men with knives on the streets looking for Rwandans appeared on social media.
Trouble Begins in May, when the M23 rebel group continued fierce fighting against the army in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after years of relative silence.
The DRC accuses Rwanda of supporting the M23, which Rwanda denies.
Hundreds of kilometers to the west, in the Congolese capital Kinshasa, Zawadi is horrified to see a video of anti-Rwanda protests It went viral on social media and people she knew started posting anti-Rwanda images and slogans.
“I can’t send my kids to school. I can’t go to the market. I have to stay at home,” said Zawadi, who declined to reveal the family name because of safety concerns.
She can no longer work.
“Even my business partners, when they see me, they throw hate words,” said Zawadi, speaking at her home, where she spends hours a day with her two young children, according to the show. latest turn on her phone.
In early June, a widely circulated video showed several men, armed with machetes and wearing Congolese flags, loitering on Kinshasa Street in front of a Rwandan-owned store.
Another video, filmed during a protest in the city on May 30, shows a cheering crowd as a photo of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, with a Hitler-like mustache and swastika, is burned. on fire.
The protesters, including several prominent political figures, demanded the closure of the Rwandan embassy.
The provincial police commissioner, General Sylvano Kasongo, said officers were ordered to arrest anyone wearing paramilitary clothing and posing in a threatening manner, and several arrests had taken place.
“The people of Kinshasa are hospitable,” he said, condemning the anti-Rwanda protests and labeling them as a minority.
Kinshasa Governor Gentiny Ngobila urged people not to vent their anger on Rwandan citizens.
“We shouldn’t get caught up in that xenophobic rhetoric because it will give ammunition to those who use the pretext that Rwandans are being persecuted in the Congo, so they need to be rescued,” Ngobila said.
He is alluding to a justification offered by Rwanda for invading the DRC in 1996 and 1998. But calls for restraint have failed to assuage Zawadi’s fears.
“Wherever you go, you think people can kill you, people can harm you,” she said.