About 100 people took to the streets of Portland Friday in a protest march calling attention to the plight of the Banyamulenge people, a minority tribe in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

More than 300 Banyamulenge have resettled in Maine to escape “a silent genocide little noticed by the outside world,” according to a statement from the Mahoro Peace Association that helped organize the peaceful protest. “They live in sorrow and dread because of the ongoing genocide against their relatives back home,” the association said.

Vincent Sematungo chants while marching along Park Avenue in Portland on Friday. The protest, organized by the Mahoro Peace Association, was held to bring attention to the plight of the Banyamulenge people, a minority tribe in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who are being killed by other tribal militias. More than 300 Banyamulenge people who escaped the genocide live in Maine. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

Chanting “Take Action” and carrying signs saying “Stop Killing Us,” the protesters left Monument Square around 11:30 a.m. and marched down Elm Street, Park Avenue, Forest Avenue, Congress Street and back to the square.

They also delivered letters seeking help to the offices of Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Chellie Pingree.

People march into Monument Square during a protest Friday to bring attention to the plight of the Banyamulenge people, a minority tribe in the Democratic Republic of the Congo whose members are being killed by other tribal militias. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

Militia groups and others in the central African country have targeted the Banyamulenge as part of a long-running territorial dispute, according to Genocide Watch, an international group that has warned about the potential for genocide amid the escalating conflict.

The organizers of the protest Friday said the groups have wiped out villages, attacked women and children and stolen livestock, which has led to starvation and death.

“The Banyamulenge are being killed because of who they are, not because of anything they have done,” the association said. “We have a moral obligation as citizens of the world to stand with this minority group and say never again to genocide. The situation is dire, and the time to act is now.”

From left, Beatrice Wyirakazung, her son Elijah, 5, Mamy Uwage, 12 and Shema Rwaganje, 13, listen to a speaker at a protest in Monument Square on Friday that was held to bring attention to the plight of Banyamulenge people, a minority tribe in the Democratic Republic of the Congo whose members are being killed by other tribal militias. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

The protesters hoped to raise awareness and enlist support from Collins and Pingree in demanding immediate action from the Congolese government and the international community to stop the violence and uprooting of the Banyamulenge people.

Collins, a Republican, plans to meet with protest leaders next week, as she did last year, spokesman Christopher Knight said. Back then, she sent a letter to State Department leaders urging them to “advocate for the protection of the Banyamulenge ethnic minority in the DRC and make every possible effort to end their persecution and prevent a genocide,” Knight said. “Senator Collins will continue to support efforts to halt the ongoing violence in the region, bring the perpetrators to justice, and provide humanitarian assistance for the Banyamulenge and other groups in the region.”

Pingree, a Democrat, posted photos and videos of Friday’s protest on her social media sites, “so that no one can say that they didn’t know about this genocide,” spokeswoman Victoria Bonney said. She also shared a link to an April 9 statement by the international diplomatic community condemning “the violence and murders committed by armed groups in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, particularly the recent wave of atrocities by the Allied Democratic Forces in North Kivu and Ituri.”

Congolese immigrants protest in Portland Friday to draw attention to violence against members of their minority tribe in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Greg Rec/Staff Photographer

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