Kavumu: Statement from Dr. Denis Mukwege

Kavumu: Statement from Dr. Denis Mukwege

Contact:
PanziUSA - Elizabeth Blackney (English) (GMT -5)

ElizabethB@pfusa.org or via phone: +1 541.390.1913. 
Panzi Hospital – Crispin Kashale (French) (GMT +2)
communication@fondationpanzirdc.org
+243 819 593 254

The following statement is from Dr. Denis Mukwege, Founder and Medical Director for Panzi Hospital, Dr. Mukwege is the Founder and President of Panzi Foundation DRC and Panzi Foundation USA. His statement on the Kavumu Trial is provided in both English and French. 

(Bukavu, DRC) From Dr. Denis Mukwege: "Yesterday, Wednesday, December 13, the curtains fell on the trial of Kavumu. The trial focused on the systematic rape of 42 children, aged 18 months to 10 years old. An exemplary verdict: twelve convictions were pronounced for crimes against humanity by rape and murder. Do these convictions signal the advent of justice's victory over the culture of impunity in the Democratic Republic of Congo?

"I congratulate the parents of the victims and survivors for their courage. They were steadfast and strong until the end of the trial despite threats and intimidation of all kinds. They knew how to brave the fear, the shame, and the stigmatization to assert their rights. I salute with respect and great emotion this strong wind of truth which blows over our military and demonstrates to the world it is time to speak for what is right, no matter the political stature of the accused.

"This verdict gives hope to the multitude of silent and traumatized victims who dare not complain because of their lack of faith in our justice system.

"This Kavumu trial sends a strong message to political leaders at all levels who use and support militias. Even as those militias kill and rape civilians, attack Congolese armed forces, and United Nations peace-keepers; they commit and perpetuate war crimes and crimes against humanity – the message is still clear: sooner or later justice will prevail.

"I express my gratitude to the staff of the Panzi Hospital, the Panzi Foundation, and the teams from Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) and TRIAL International. I also am grateful to all the experts in humanitarian and international law as well as psychological experts for their support to the victims and the determination to bring this trial to a successful conclusion. 

"This landmark collaboration is an example of humanism, altruism and efficiency; a model for fighting impunity in conflict zones. It deserves to be congratulated and replicated in other areas of conflict. To make a better world, everyone should bring out the best of himself or herself, bring our skills and materials to strengthen the process like the many practitioners who did so in, and for, Kavumu. That is what they did with professionalism. 

"The thorny question about reparations remains uncertain. Medical scientific literature does not shed sufficient light on the consequences of mass rape on babies. There are not many retrospective studies of babies left alive in the context of conflict where rape is used as a weapon of war.

"For some of these raped children under the age of twenty-four months, they should not only be provided with psychological and medical care for at least the next 17 years, but also a full assessment of the consequences of these rapes with extreme violence on their sexuality, their fertility, and their behavior. This can only be done when they reach adulthood. Their healing process is merely beginning.

"I encourage the gynecological, pediatric-psychological, and psychosocial monitoring teams as well as their parents to shower these children with love, tenderness, and grace so that the victory over their abusers and executioners is complete and with the least possible pain in the aftermath.

It goes without saying that the protection of witnesses, parents, and the various actors in the past and future care of these children is essential."

"With more political will we can overcome impunity, build a safer world, and a better future for our children and future generations."

------------------------------------------------------------
Déclaration du Dr Mukwege sur le verdict du procès de viol des enfants à Kavumu/RD Congo.

Depuis hier mercredi 13 décembre, les rideaux sont tombés sur le procès de Kavumu. Un procès pour viol de 42 enfants de 18 mois à 10 ans. Le verdict a été exemplaire : douze condamnations pour crimes contre l'humanité ont été prononcées. Ces condamnations augurent-elles l'avènement de la victoire de la Justice sur la culture de l'impunité en République Démocratique du Congo? 

Je félicite les parents des victimes pour leur courage. Ils ont su tenir bon jusqu'à la fin du procès malgré les menaces et les intimidations de toutes sortes. Ils ont su braver la peur, la honte, la stigmatisation pour faire valoir leur droit. Je salue avec respect et grande émotion ce vent de vérité et de fermeté qui souffle sur notre justice militaire qui a su montrer à la face du monde qu'elle est capable de dire le droit et rien que le droit quelle que soit l'influence politique du prévenu. 

Ce verdict donne l'espoir à la multitude des victimes silencieuses et traumatisées qui n'osent se plaindre faute de foi en notre justice. 

Ce procès de Kavumu est un message fort adressé aux dirigeants politiques, à tous niveaux, qui entretiennent des milices. Des milices qui tuent et violent les civils, attaquent les forces armées congolaises et les forces des Nations Unies. Des milices qui commettent des crimes de guerre et des crimes contre l'humanité judiciairement imprescriptibles. Le message envoyé est clair, tôt ou tard la justice vaincra. 

J’exprime ma gratitude au staff de l'hôpital de Panzi, de la Fondation Panzi et à nos collaborateurs des organisations PHR et TRIAL. J’exprime ma reconnaissance aux experts en droit humanitaire et international ainsi qu’aux experts psychologues pour leur soutien aux victimes et la détermination à faire aboutir ce procès. 
Cette collaboration qui fera date, est un exemple d'humanisme, d’altruisme et d’efficacité ;  un modèle  de lutte contre l'impunité dans les zones de conflit. Elle mérite d'être félicitée et répliquée dans d'autres zones de conflit. Pour faire un monde meilleur, chacun devrait apporter le meilleur de lui-même, sa pierre à l’édifice, c'est ce qu’ils ont su faire avec professionnalisme. 

Il reste en suspens, l'épineuse question de réparations. La littérature scientifique ne nous éclaire pas suffisamment sur les conséquences des viols de masse chez les bébés. Il n’y a pas beaucoup d’études rétrospectives portant sur des bébés laissés en vie dans le contexte de conflits où le viol est utilisé comme arme de guerre. 

Pour certaines de ces enfants violées en dessous de l’âge de vingt-quatre mois, il faudrait non seulement leur assurer un suivi psychologique et médical pendant au moins les 17 ans à venir, mais aussi une évaluation complète des conséquences de ces viols avec extrême violence, sur leur sexualité, leur fertilité et leur comportement. Cela ne pourra se faire que lorsqu'elles atteindront leur majorité. Le processus de leur guérison ne fait donc que commencer.

J'encourage les équipes de suivi gynécologique, pédo-psychologique, psychosocial ainsi que les parents à accompagner ces enfants avec amour, tendresse et grâce afin que la victoire sur leurs bourreaux soit totale et avec le moins des séquelles possibles. 

Il va sans dire que la protection des  témoins, des parents et des différents acteurs de la prise  en charge passée et future de ces enfants  est indispensable.

Avec davantage de volonté politique nous pouvons vaincre l'impunité, bâtir un monde plus sûr et un meilleur avenir pour nos enfants et les générations futures. 

#####

Justice for Kavumu's Children

Justice for Kavumu's Children

Child Rapes and Murders Declared Crimes Against Humanity in Landmark Case

(Washington, DC) The following is a statement from Panzi Foundation USA on the landmark ruling in the Kavumu trial that concluded today in eastern Congo.  

Abuse of Power and a Path to Justice
The crimes of murder and systematic rape of very young children perpetrated by Frederic Batumike, a Congo parliamentarian, and his militia terrorized children, parents, and the community of Kavumu for more than a year. The heinous nature of the attacks created an outrage that spread far beyond Kavumu. 

Throughout this crisis, a coalition of leaders of local associations, teachers, lawyers, NGO representatives, and human rights defenders worked to confront sexual violence in Kavumu. In April 2016, they convened an important community-led symposium, "Consortium SOS Jeune Filles en Danger,” at Panzi Hospital’s Maison Dorcas after-care facility and conference center. 

Technical expertise of Panzi Hospital and Panzi Foundation DRC doctors, alongside other medical and legal professionals – like Physicians for Human Rights and TRIAL International – facilitated the rigorous documentation of each case. This, plus the careful preservation of evidence was critical to the judicial process.

A Complicated Path to Healing
Infants, toddlers, and young children sustained grievous, extensive injuries to their organs and reproductive systems. The severity of the trauma each child and family still faces cannot be understated. 

Injuries include the destruction of the cervix, reproductive organs, bladders, fistula, and severe trauma to the abdomen. It is unknown if, or how many, of the surviving girls will recover and have normal sexual or reproductive functions. 

Panzi physicians, psychologists, clinicians, and staff continue to serve the children and survivors. It is our commitment to support their work, and the families of those we serve every day. 

Next Steps for Justice
The conviction of Batumike and his militia, 12 men in total, of Crimes Against Humanity by Rape and Murder is an historic moment in the fight against impunity for crimes of this nature. Many, many more women and girls, and boys, await justice in Congo. 

The Bukavu Court made the mobile court possible for the victims and survivors in Kavumu. The strong partnership between medical and legal practitioners with civil society and the families affected was and remains critical. 

No parent, no child, no person should be confronted with violence. The excruciating burden these families face must be met with action – through the holistic, comprehensive survivor-centered care provided on the frontlines, through the judicial process, stronger institutions, and with a supportive and engaged international community. 

The child rapes in Kavumu shock the conscience, and we cannot – and should not – distance ourselves from this reality. While justice is denied any victim – the work must continue. The international community must respond. Rape decimates humanity. In the victim of each crime and within each of us. 

Justice in Kavumu must be a step towards ending impunity in Congo, and around the world.  

CoFounder and Chair Dr. Lee Ann De Reus and Executive Director Tony Gambino are available for interviews. Please contact Media Director Elizabeth Blackney via email at ElizabethB@pfusa.org. 
#####

Heal ❆ Live ❆ Hope ❆ GIVE

Heal ❆ Live ❆ Hope ❆ GIVE

Every day, children and women arrive at Panzi Hospital, Maison Dorcas, and our rural sites. Every day, you are an integral part of the healing pathway.

From medical care and pioneering fistula repair, to well-babies and maternal care, to our renowned music therapy program, Panzi Foundation USA is supporting holistic, survivor-centered healing. 

Today is #GivingTuesday, and Facebook and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will be matching up to $2 million of funds raised on Facebook for US nonprofits. .

Donations to Panzi made through Facebook’s charitable giving tools today, November 28th will be matched up to $50,000 per nonprofit or $1,000 per fundraiser or donate button, until the $2 million in matching funds run out. The match will begin at 8AM EST (5AM PST).

We are deeply grateful for your support, and your dedication. Please make your year-end gift to Panzi Foundation today - together we are transforming lives. 

Thank you, and best wishes for a happy holiday season,

Warmly,

Dr. Lee Ann De Reus, Founder and Board Chair

The Promise of Justice for Kavumu's Child Rape Survivors: Trial Underway

The Promise of Justice for Kavumu's Child Rape Survivors: Trial Underway

Every day we work to strengthen the programs and resources for our colleagues on the frontline in eastern Congo. Panzi Hospital and Maison Dorcas are the epicenter for medical and holistic healing, education and vocational training, legal assistance and community reintegration in Bukavu.

Despite the ongoing political crisis and instability, our colleagues deliver best-in-class care and services. We stand with them in the fight against rape and sexualized violence. 

Panzi's rural and mobile clinics serve thousands more families - often in even more vulnerable circumstances. One community we serve, Kavumu, has faced extreme violence - including the rape of more than 45 victims under the age of five years old - even infants and toddlers.

Our doctors and staff have worked tirelessly to treat their injuries and heal their bodies and souls. With the affected families, civil society leaders, and assistance from partners like Physicians for Human Rights, there is a criminal trial underway. This promise of justice is critical to community and family reintegration. 

Approximately one hundred women are enrolled at our rural Maison Dorcas center in Kavumu. Programs include micro-finance of their small businesses, to agriculture/agri-business training, animal husbandry training, basket making, literacy and numeracy - everything you'd find at Maison Dorcas - and a farm. 

Enrollees are a combination of survivors of sexual violence, fistula (obstetric and traumatic) survivors, women who are HIV positive, and other vulnerable women in the community. Each woman is also able to enroll two of her children (if her kids are a mix of genders, it must be at least one girl and one boy) in local schools through our program.

It is our hope the families and child rape survivors receive justice. For updates from the trial, please follow PHR's Susannah Sirkin and TRIAL on Twitter. We will make a full statement following the completion of the trial.

On this World Children's Day, our commitment to the children of Panzi is stronger than ever. 

#GivingTuesday Contest!

#GivingTuesday Contest!

Through #MyGivingStory, we hope to learn more about you and your connection to fighting sexualized violence, and what inspires you to join us in supporting  the vulnerable women and children we serve, our indefatigable colleagues,  and everyone who lives on the frontline of the humanitarian crisis in Congo. 

Here's how it works: Visit http://mygivingstory.givingtuesday.org/ and upload your story, photo(s), or video and let them know why Panzi Foundation USA and Dr. Mukwege inspire YOU to give!

Every entry, every story creates a chance for PanziUSA to receive up to $10,000! And if you recruit 3 other people (friends, family, colleagues) to submit their giving story and we will highlight your story on #GivingTuesday social media channels - and so will the generous folks at #GivingTuesday!

Make sure you tag us on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook- use our campaign hashtags #PanziStrong or #FemmeForte with #MyGivingStory for your chance to be featured on our site and receive a special gift made at Maison Dorcas. 

Thank you for lifting your voice for Survivors everywhere, especially the 50,000 women and children treated at Panzi Hospital and Maison Dorcas in eastern Congo. Together, we are #PanziStrong!

#MyGivingStory: Heal. Hope. Live.

#MyGivingStory: Heal. Hope. Live.

mc2160_is_lg_MyGivingStory_9-2_Final-01_0.png

Escalating violence, political instability, and corruption are a continuous threat. Vulnerable citizens and traumatized survivors of sexual violence require services - and at Panzi Hospital and Maison Dorcas - there is sanctuary. 

Last year, your dedication to supporting the children and women we serve every day was unprecedented. This year, we are inviting to to tell us your Giving Story. Through #MyGivingStory, we hope to learn more about you and the community we've built together - with our Founder, Dr. Denis Mukwege and the courageous doctors, clinicians, and staff in Congo. 

As we tell our stories, and share stories from our friends and partners, we want to hear from you. Tag us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook- use our campaign hashtags #PanziStrong or #FemmeForte with #MyGivingStory for a chance to be featured on our site and our year end newsletter, and receive a special gift made at Maison Dorcas. 

Thank you for your generous support and helping us lift the voices of more than 50,000 women and children in eastern Congo. Together, we are #PanziStrong!

DayOfTheGirl2017-sewing.png

DR. MUKWEGE: Time to Prioritize Survivors

DR. MUKWEGE: Time to Prioritize Survivors

Statement of Dr. Denis Mukwege on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict on 19 June 2017

(Bukavu, DRC) As sexual violence continues to be committed on a large scale worldwide, today’s International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict serves as a reminder that society must eradicate one of the most painful and shameful consequences of war.

In conflicts around the world, from Congo and South Sudan to Syria and Myanmar, rape is a method of warfare deployed to terrorize and destroy entire populations. Sexual violence creates life-long physical and psychological trauma, destroys family bonds, increases the spread of preventable diseases, and leaves deep and long-standing marks on entire communities.

The violence committed against the bodies of women and men, boys and girls, is the disgrace of the 21st century.

It is time to stand up and fight against these crimes at a global level. Building a global movement that prioritizes survivors, civil society members and organizations is critical to eradicate sexual violence.

Today, we also remember the victims and honour the survivors of sexual violence around the world. Their courage and strength in overcoming fear and stigmatization is a great source of inspiration.

This year’s theme of the international day, “preventing sexual violence through justice and deterrence,” raises awareness on a critical aspect in the fight against rape as a weapon of war. The prosecution of the crimes not only helps to prevent violence through deterrence. Courts also offer victims an avenue to obtain justice for and acknowledgement of their suffering.

Survivors of sexual violence are increasingly standing up to draw attention to this neglected, global problem and advocate for justice and reparations. We call on governments to become more involved and respond to their call. States have the responsibility and authority to join efforts and enforce the prohibition on the use of sexual violence.

In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 19 June of each year the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict

Download the statement HERE.

PANZI USA DENIED TRAVEL VISAS BY DRC GOVERNMENT

PANZI USA DENIED TRAVEL VISAS BY DRC GOVERNMENT

In our work with Panzi Hospital and Panzi Foundation DRC, we provide support to survivors of rape perpetrated by militias and other bad actors in eastern Congo. 

Co-Founded in 2010 by Dr. Denis Mukwege with Dr. Lee Ann De Reus, Panzi USA scheduled a delegation to attend the Partners Conference in Bukavu, South Kivu province in May 2017. The visit would have marked Dr. De Reus' tenth to Panzi facilities. Our Executive Director Tony Gambino has been traveling to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) regularly since 1979 in many capacities, including as the Mission Director for USAID in Kinshasa for three years.

The Kabila government, which continues to violate the Congolese Constitution, denied travel visas for Dr. Lee Ann De Reus and Tony Gambino.

Dr. De Reus stated: "As the Panzi Model continues to show clinical progress and benefits to families and society, we are with our colleagues every step of the way. Documenting success at Panzi, and how they overcome the many challenges presented in a conflict zone, are critical for our work."

President Kabila and his government cannot silence the voices of our colleagues and the many Congolese who want free and fair elections by denying Americans travel visas. President Kabila is well beyond his Constitutional mandate. By denying our team their visas, it only confirms the democratic space and the humanitarian space is closing in Congo.

Executive Director Tony Gambino noted: "This is yet another clear example of the Kabila government's sad decline into an autocratic defiance of all decency and respect for humanitarian norms."

 

Kabila Funds American Lobbyists with $5.6 Million Payout

Kabila Funds American Lobbyists with $5.6 Million Payout

06 June 2017

Contact: Elizabeth Blackney
Tele: +1541.390.1913 Email:  ElizabethB@pfusa.org 


DRC GOVERNMENT FUNDS AMERICAN LOBBYISTS WITH $5.6 MILLION PAYOUT
Dr. Denis Mukwege Advocates for Expansion and Protection of Humanitarian Work

(New York, NY) The following is a statement from Panzi Foundation USA: 

As reported by The Hill, the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is paying millions of dollars to lobbyists in Washington, DC. 

Amid election strifecalls for an international investigation into the murders of UN Experts in the troubled Kasai provinces, President Kabila's government continues to shrink humanitarian and democratic spaces as reports of extrajudicial killings and mass gravescrumbling or nonexistent infrastructure, massive inflation, extreme poverty and malnutrition, an epidemic of rape, an acting with total disregard for the Constitution continue to make headlines. 

In Washington, DC and New York this week, our Founder, Dr. Denis Mukwege participated in a series of high level meetings with US Government and United Nations policymakers and diplomats about humanitarian issues faced in Congo. Our colleagues at Panzi Hospital and Panzi Foundation DRC have helped to treat more than 50,000 survivors of sexual violence since 1999. Many thousands of other patients were treated for complex obstetric or gynecological injuries. A general reference hospital, Panzi serves more than 400,000 Congolese in South Kivu province across every medical discipline. Security concerns are paramount for front line defenders. 

Dr. Denis Mukwege stated: "President Kabila claims there is no money for elections. Instead, he paid $5.6 million to lobbyists that want to persuade American lawmakers and the American people of his virtue. 

"With $5.6 MILLION, we could fund 25 health centers and heal hundreds of thousands of Congolese."

Panzi Foundation USA stands in solidarity with Dr. Denis Mukwege. We mourn our colleague and friend, Dr. Gildo Byamungu, who was assassinated in April 2017. We stand with our selfless, courageous colleagues. We stand with the countless citizens and civil society groups who are dedicated to nonviolence and the expansion of the democratic and humanitarian spaces in Congo.

For additional information on the Lobbyists, please utilize the Justice Department's website for Registered Foreign Agents: www.FARA.gov, and use the 'Quick Search' function. Alston Bird LLP, the firm for Senator Bob Dole is under s retainer agreement through Mer Security. Mer's registration number is 6423. Southfive Strategies' registration number is 6426. The Livingston Group, founded by former Congressman Bob Livingston, is registered under 6344. Alpha/Aseleus Strategies, where Trump Transtion member Adnan Jalil is a principal, is registered under 6431. More than $4,500,000 has already been paid since December 2016 according to disclosures filed with FARA.

###

Kabila Government Sliding Toward Autocratic Decline

05 June 2017

Contact: Elizabeth Blackney
Tele: +1541.390.1913 Email:  ElizabethB@pfusa.org 

PANZI USA DENIED TRAVEL VISAS BY DRC GOVERNMENT

(New York, NY) The following is a statement from Panzi Foundation USA: 

In our work with Panzi Hospital and Panzi Foundation DRC, we provide support to survivors of rape perpetrated by militias and other bad actors in eastern Congo. 

Co-Founded by Dr. Denis Mukwege with Dr. Lee Ann De Reus, Panzi USA scheduled a delegation to attend the Partners Conference in Bukavu, South Kivu province in May 2017. The visit would have marked Dr. De Reus' tenth to Panzi facilities. Our Executive Director Tony Gambino has been traveling to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) regularly since 1979 in many capacities, including as the Mission Director for USAID in Kinshasa for three years.

The Kabila government, which continues to violate the Congolese Constitution, denied travel visas for Dr. Lee Ann De Reus and Tony Gambino.

Dr. De Reus stated: "As the Panzi Model continues to show clinical progress and benefits to families and society, we are with our colleagues every step of the way. Documenting success at Panzi, and how they overcome the many challenges presented in a conflict zone, are critical for our work."

President Kabila and his government cannot silence the voices of our colleagues and the many Congolese who want free and fair elections by denying Americans travel visas. President Kabila is well beyond his Constitutional mandate. By denying our team their visas, it only confirms the democratic space and the humanitarian space is closing in Congo.

Executive Director Tony Gambino noted: "This is yet another clear example of the Kabila government's sad decline into an autocratic defiance of all decency and respect for humanitarian norms."

Mr. Gambino is available for interviews. 

###

MONUSCO RETURNS TO PANZI HOSPITAL

MONUSCO RETURNS TO PANZI HOSPITAL

Statement from Panzi Foundation DRC: 

COMMUNIQUE
C’est avec un cœur apaisé et soulagé que depuis quarante huit heure, nous médecins, personnels soignants et administratifs ainsi que malades de l'hôpital de référence de Panzi, remarquons avec grande satisfaction le retour de la présence permanente des soldats de la MONUSCO  autour de l’Hôpital Général de Référence de Panzi.

Nous saluons cet acte humanitaire pour la sécurité tant des malades que du personnel.
Nous voulons également saluer les Etats et les autorités onusiennes qui se sont investis pour le rétablissement de cette protection permanente.

Au nom de toutes les victimes des violences sexuelles, du personnel et du Dr. Denis Mukwege, nous présentons nos très sincères remerciements.

Pour la Fondation Panzi,
La communication.

Monusco Must Restore Protection At Panzi for Dr. Denis Mukwege

Monusco Must Restore Protection At Panzi for Dr. Denis Mukwege

11 May 2017

(Washington, DC) Yesterday, Panzi Foundation USA's Executive Director Tony Gambino responded to inaccurate statements made by Monusco officials on Twitter. "To say that Dr. Mukwege is under no threat is a terribly wrong misstatement. His close friend and colleague, Dr. Gildo Byamungu was murdered in Uvira just a few weeks ago. Sadly, the statement made by Monusco is factually incorrect. Protection was withdrawn following the departure of former SRSG Martin Kobler. This needs to be rectified as soon as possible."

Mr. Gambino is available for interviews. 

The statement below, from our colleagues at Panzi Foundation DRC, reflects the facts surrounding the withdrawal of protection. Panzi Foundation USA endorses and joins them in calling for the restoration of protection to Dr. Mukwege and Panzi Hospital. 

Statement from the Panzi Foundation DRC on the Protection MONUSCO Provides to Dr. Mukwege and Panzi Hospital

"On Tuesday, May 9, the French newspaper "La Croix" published an article stating that MONUSCO no longer provides permanent protection to Dr. Dénis Mukwege. That statement is true.

"On Wednesday, May 10, in Kinshasa, during a press conference, Charles Antoine Bambara, MONUSCO's Director of Public Information, stated that "MONUSCO always has protected Dr. Denis Mukwege. Our forces are always there to secure those who feel threatened. Some of our soldiers are even now near Panzi Hospital." That statement is inaccurate, and verifiably so.

"MONUSCO protected Panzi Hospital and Doctor Mukwege for a certain period until the departure of SRSG Martin Kobler.

"Unfortunately, MONUSCO, without giving us any explanation, no longer protects the hospital as it once did.

"The Pakistani contingent of MONUSCO, which had been based at Panzi camp, was moved last year. There are no more MONUSCO blue helmets in the vicinity of the hospital.

"Also, MONUSCO said on Twitter that "MONUSCO continues its protection to Dr. Mukwege and there is no threat to him." This statement also is inaccurate.

"The threat remains, grows, and is permanent. It is surprising that MONUSCO does not seem to understand this fundamental and urgent reality about the safety of Dr. Mukwege, the medical and administrative staff, and especially the girls and women who come to Panzi.

"MONUSCO's mandate is to protect civilians. We request that MONUSCO provide permanent, continuous protection to Dr. Mukwege and Panzi Hospital. We thank them for the escorts that continue to take place."

###

Contact: Elizabeth Blackney, +1541.390.1913 
 ElizabethB@pfusa.org 

Nita Evele and Tony Gambino Speak Out

Nita Evele and Tony Gambino Speak Out

Stay informed about the escalating political crisis in the DRC, and concerns that sexualized violence against women will increase by following us here. Our Expert Insight call with be announced soon on our Events page. 

Recently, Panzi USA Board Members Nita Evele and Tony Gambino were featured in the Georgetown University Institute for Women, Peace, and Security's "Profiles in Peace" series. 

Ms. Evele also spoke at the Enough Project's "Combating Violent Kleptocracy in the DRC" event. Read the report here. See the panel discussion in the video below. 

Healing in Harmony Begins #JourneytoScale

Healing in Harmony Begins #JourneytoScale

Humanitarian Innovation Fund Names Panzi's Healing in Harmony Music Therapy Program
Winner on the "Journey to Scale" 

(Los Angeles, CA) The Panzi US partnership withMake Music Matter, and our colleagues at Panzi Foundation DRC grows stronger every day. The holistic healing model incorporates innovation and medical research with groundbreaking programs, like our "Healing in Harmony" music therapy program. Participants are survivors of sexual violence, abandoned children, vulnerable community members, and Panzi staff. Together, they are are treated as artists, not patients - and they own their music.

Executive Director Naama Haviv said, "We are honored to work with Darcy Ataman, an incredible innovator, and our dedicated and inspiring team in Bukavu. Healing in Harmony, at its core, has potential for transformative change, not just in women's lives and in communities, but in the broader community of practice. We stand ready to work with the Humanitarian Innovation Fund on our Journey to Scale."

Ediitor's Note: Photographs feature participants in the Healing in Harmony program. Photo Credit: Panzi Foundation USA. Interviews will be granted in order received. Please contact Elizabeth Blackney, tele +1 541.390.1913 or via email: ElizabethB@pfusa.org

###

Dr. Mukwege Accepts Seoul Peace Prize

Dr. Mukwege Accepts Seoul Peace Prize

REMARKS AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY
Delivered by Dr. Denis Mukwege to Seoul Peace Prize Cultural Foundation Award Ceremony
Dynasty Room, Hotel Shilla, Seoul


Chairman of the Seoul Peace Prize Cultural Foundation,
Members of the Seoul Peace Prize Selection Committee,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentleman,
Friends of peace,

It is my pleasure to be with you today in Korea. Thank you for your warm welcome!

On behalf of my staff working each day, tirelessly, I am humbled and honored to accept the Seoul Peace Prize. At Panzi Hospital and Foundations, we treat, heal, and help revitalize dignity within our patients who have faced evil and survived. 

To all survivors of rape and sexual violence around the world, I dedicate this Prize to you as an acknowledgement of your humanity and suffering, and our shared desire for peace. 

I must also honor and recognize the resilience of the so-called Comfort Women. They suffered immeasurable pain, indignity, violence, and social stigmatization. In their memory, and in the memory of all victims of rape and sexual violence, I re-dedicate myself to pursuing peace, seeking truth and reconciliation, standing up for the rights of all people, and healing survivors around the world. We are one family and community. In your honor, I accept this prestigious award with humility and with hope. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that "Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgment."

Dr. King then asked us, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?" 

I am doing my duty, as we all must. Each one of us confronted with the suffering of any fellow human being must show concern and compassion. We must take action to help those in need. This is what we do every day at Panzi. 

I have hope despite that, for too long, the use of rape and sexual violence in times of war - and in peace - has been ignored or denied. This global issue affects humanity as a whole. Because of the tireless work of those in the medical community, advocates for justice, and civil society voices around the world, addressing rape and sexual violence is on the agenda of the international community. But, more needs to be done.

By expressing your solidarity with victims of sexual violence in conflict, you have chosen to stand against the indifference that survivors endure. You are joining those who know suffering is not an inevitable part of war. You are reaffirming that lasting peace and security can only be achieved when threats to women are seen as threats to all. 

This prize is a message to survivors. You are valued and not forgotten. Your cries and your voices are heard. Together we commit ourselves to building a healthier, more just, and peaceful world. 

Friends of peace, ladies and gentlemen, and survivors, 

My heart is also heavy. Today is October 6, and I am compelled to share with you one of the most difficult memories of my life. 

This date lives within me, in my work, but also in my soul. Twenty years ago, in 1996, I was the medical director of the hospital in Lemera - a village in the beautiful hills of the South Kivu Province in Eastern Congo, near the borders with Burundi and Rwanda. 

That day, an armed group attacked the hospital, killed 30 of my patients - sick and wounded people - and three members of my medical staff. 

I miraculously survived. 

This war crime was the first massacre of many that are still ravaging the region where I live and work. 

Those who have command responsibility for this serious breach of international humanitarian law that marked the beginning of the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are well known. Their crimes have been documented and listed in a report of the United Nations (UN). Not one of the perpetrators has been prosecuted or brought to justice. 

Twenty years after this atrocity at Lemera was committed, no one has ever been held accountable. Neither the families of the victims nor the community received any sort of redress. No memorial has been built on the site of the mass grave where the remains of the innocent victims were buried with no names. 

There is no official recognition of what happened.

No academic or history book is teaching our children at school about the day that changed the course of the modern history in the Great Lakes region. No truth. No memory. No reparation. No justice for the victims. No dignity for the innocents. 

Three years after the 1996 massacre, my aim was to build a hospital where women could receive good healthcare in order to reduce maternal mortality. But our first patient did not come to deliver a baby. She had been raped with extreme violence. It was the first time we had witnessed such an inhumane act. We thought the case must be an isolated one. It quickly became clear that it was only the beginning of a humanitarian disaster of tremendous proportions that plagues us to this day.

The bodies of women and girls are now the battlefields of a conflict that has killed and displaced millions of people. Rape has been used in a widespread and systematic manner as a weapon of war, as a deliberate political and military strategy. Many of these atrocities have been committed by child soldiers brainwashed by warlords and domestic and foreign armed forces to destroy communities. Yet we should not forget that children who perpetrate sexual violence are often victims themselves. 

In this climate of impunity, trauma and gender discrimination, rape is becoming more and more prevalent among civilians, and is spreading across society. Rape should never be normalized, or accepted as a consequence of conflict.

Is rape about uncontrolled sexual desire? No. Rape as a weapon of war is about power. It is first and foremost a strategy to demoralize, destabilize and displace entire communities. It is not incidental violence. Rape as a weapon of war is committed in a systematic way with specific goals. Often in public and with brutal violence, targeting civilians.

Recently we have been confronted with an even more troubling and shocking side of violence and destruction: the rape of children and infants. The wards at Panzi hospital are increasingly filled with young innocent faces. 

No one should accept what is unacceptable. Red lines must not be crossed without serious action and accountability. Our children's lives matter. 

Friends of peace,

Officially, there has been peace in the DRC since 2002, but the harsh reality in eastern Congo is one of violence and ongoing conflicts. 

Despite various peace agreements, which are supposed to foster democratic transition under the watch of the UN's largest peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, we live in neither war nor peace. 

We live in a new form of conflict involving numerous militias and armed groups. Like criminal enterprises, they operate in the shadows, with the complicity of unscrupulous businessmen and corrupt leaders. They exploit our land and our people for personal interests. This occurs in an economy that is largely militarized and is based on the illegal trade of minerals resources.

We must break the existing links between armed conflicts and illegal exploitation of natural resources. Often called "conflict minerals" or "blood minerals." 

These resources are abundant in the region where I live. They continue to power our cell phones, tablet, laptops and other electronic devices. This industry in Congo is partially driven by the modern slavery, of women and men, but also of exploited children who work in inhumane conditions and are victims of all forms of abuse. 

Human dignity must be at the heart of ethical governance, and at the center in our shared economic and financial interests. 

In a globalized market, responsible consumers must be made aware that even though we may not be directly associated with these illegal activities and human rights abuses, our purchases can and do contribute to these types of crimes. 

We must be aware of the links between our mobile phones and other devices and the instability in the DRC. We have a responsibility to advocate for transparency in the upstream and downstream supply chains for these precious minerals. By doing so, we may bring stability, prosperity and peace to the people of Congo.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This is the context in which we are fighting against rape as a weapon of war. Every one of us can contribute to the resolution of this violence as responsible consumers and advocates, lifting our voices and ensuring mining companies and governments adhere to best practices. 

Since we opened Panzi Hospital in 1999, we have treated more than 48 thousand survivors of rape and sexualized violence, in addition to 35 thousand women and girls with complex gynecological injuries.

This medical care, which includes reconstructive gynecological surgery, is part of a four-pillar holistic healing model with which we strive to help survivors and their families and communities to heal the body, the mind and the spirit. 

At Panzi, survivors can access medical care, psychosocial services, legal aid, and can choose to participate in activities aimed at gaining socio-economic power and building women's leadership. When they are ready, Panzi also supports them in their community reintegration. We provide these services to help victims become survivors, to speak out, and to become advocates for peace and justice. 

Panzi Foundation is also increasingly involved in prevention work. We cannot continue to repair the damage done on our wives, daughters and sisters. We need to act to prevent the violence from occurring in the first place. 

We also must address the need to alter existing gender norms. Time has come to change mentalities, combat harmful practices and patriarchal discrimination. Hence our projects address structural issues such as gender inequality. Men and boys must work together with women and girls in the fight against sexual violence. We as men must promote women's leadership.

Education is also vital in combatting the systematic use of sexual violence. The right to education cannot continue to be denied for women who make up half of the population in the world. 

We are convinced that investing in access to education and healthcare for women and girls is not only a way for governments to fulfill their legal obligations, but is the smartest way to support social and economic development and prosperity. 

We must pursue justice for victims of sexual violence. As long as there is no accountability and complete impunity for perpetrators, the cycle of violence will continue. We must unite and show that we will no longer tolerate this behavior. When we no longer allow it to persist, justice for women and all of us will be within our grasp.

In the absence of a functioning judiciary that is able and willing to address the most serious crimes, including rape and other forms of sexualized crimes, we are calling for the establishment of an International Tribunal for Congo. Such an institution will represent one step towards ending impunity, and help the process of combatting root drivers of the instability and violence.

We find our inspiration in the fierce determination of survivors who become actors for social change in their communities. They are fighting for their rights and for peace. We strongly believe that those who have endured violence in conflict have the capacity to act as agents for peace and security. They must participate at all stages of peace processes and deserve a place at the negotiation table in peace talks. 

Dear Friends,

We will never give up. With you and other advocates around the world at our side, we can end rape as a weapon of war. 

Why, when the international community has been able to draw a red line for the use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, is there no red line with regard to rape as a weapon of war? There is legal precedent for seeking justice and obtaining convictions. 

It is crucial that the international community, the diplomatic world, donors and international criminal justice mechanisms do not allow this red line to be crossed again and again without responding. 

The survival of our humanity is at stake.

If we want to stop seeing the blood of our Congolese sisters and brothers, the international community must urgently act to prevent a new cycle of violence and repression, thereby increasing perpetration of sexual violence. Sanctions must be imposed to discourage constitutional violations that risk jeopardizing democracy. 

Friends of peace,

We will never give up as we believe it is possible to end violence and build sustainable peace in the Great Lakes region. 

We strongly believe that there will be no lasting peace nor sustainable development without having access to all the tools of transitional justice - prosecution, truth and reintegration mechanisms, vetting and reparation. 

Your country, too, has understood the tribulations surrounding reparations. Victims of wartime sexual violence must receive the proper acknowledgement. The strength of the women continuing to demand justice in Korea is inspiring. They do not give up. And neither should we. 

We are convinced that the promotion and enjoyment of human rights for all, economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights are both our means and our goal towards consolidating the path to lasting peace and democracy in Africa and worldwide. 

Finally, my dear friends and partners in peace,
 
The DRC stands on the precipice. The constitutional mandate requires the current President to step down at the end of his second and last term in December. The regime is currently in an authoritarian drift. The government's opposition, civil society, human rights defenders, journalists and youth movements, are all being persecuted. These groups are eager to witness and support the first democratic transition of power in Congo's history. 

But there are grave concerns that those in power are eager to retain power. 

In this climate of fear and terror, the message of a strengthening Congolese civil society is simple and clear: we need to respect the provisions enshrined in the 2006 Constitution, which is the result of a referendum and the fruit of a negotiated peace agreement. 

As you have lifted your voice in support of survivors of sexual violence, I ask you now to stand with all the innocent people engaging in the defense and promotion of human rights, the rule of law, and peace. 

It is my honor to be with you here, 

Thank you for your attention and support,

Denis Mukwege, MD, PhD 

Photo credit: Olivier Vanderveeren, Panzi Hospital and Foundations

Dr. Denis Mukwege Named 2016 Seoul Peace Prize Laureate

Dr. Denis Mukwege Named 2016 Seoul Peace Prize Laureate

Seoul Peace Prize Committee Named Dr. Denis Mukwege the recipient and laureate for the 2016 Seoul Peace Prize

STATEMENT FROM DR. DENIS MUKWEGE

"With gratitude, I thank the Seoul Peace Prize Committee. I am humbled by their decision, and must also acknowledge the heroism of the women and girls of my country, Democratic Republic of Congo.  This prestigious award acknowledges the world has not forgotten them, and the Committee honors their resilience. Together, we will continue our pursuit for peace and equality around the world.

"This award bears the true intent of the Olympic spirit, in the Seoul Games of 1988 and even today in Rio De Janeiro: people of different nationalities, of different races, backgrounds or languages, in a demonstration of global solidarity, and diverse capabilities can forge a path to peace.

"It is a profound honor to be a part of the Seoul Peace Prize Committee’s legacy. The Committee, and the Korean people carry the torch for peace, and with their light – they have made the world aware of the suffering and injustice inflicted upon the Congolese people over the last two decades. In this moment, I must recognize the resilience and strength of Comfort Women, who suffered pain, indignity, violence, and social stigmatization. In their memory, I re-dedicate myself to pursuing peace, reconciliation, and healing for survivors around the world.

"Injustice anywhere on our planet should ring an alarm and I call upon our common humanity to stand together against it. We are stronger for the partnerships we build in peace, in sport, and through love of our fellow human beings."


"Avec gratitude, je remercie le Comité du Prix de la Paix de Séoul. J’accepte cette décision avec humilité car il constitue une reconnaissance de l'héroïsme des femmes et des filles de mon pays, la République démocratique du Congo. Ce prix prestigieux témoigne du fait que le monde ne les a pas oublié, et le Comité rend hommage à leur résilience. Ensemble, nous allons continuer notre quête pour la paix et l'égalité dans le monde entier.
 
Ce prix est porté par l'esprit des Jeux olympiques, de Séoul en 1988 jusqu’à aujourd'hui à Rio De Janeiro: des personnes de différentes nationalités, races, origines ou langues, rassemblées autour d’une manifestation de solidarité mondiale, nous montrent que diverses compétences peuvent forger un chemin vers la paix.
 
C’est un grand honneur d’être désigné comme lauréat par le Comité du Prix de la Paix de de Séoul. Le Comité et le peuple coréen portent le flambeau de la paix, et avec leur lumière - ils ont rendu le monde conscient de la souffrance et de l'injustice infligée au peuple congolais au cours de ces deux dernières décennies. Aujourd’hui, je dois également reconnaître la résilience et la force des femmes de réconfort, qui ont enduré la douleur, l'indignité, la violence et la stigmatisation sociale. En leur mémoire, je réitère mon engagement à poursuivre la paix, la réconciliation et la guérison pour toutes les survivantes de violences sexuelles à travers le monde.
 
Partout sur notre planète, l’injustice devrait faire sonner un cri d’alarme et je lance un appel à notre humanité commune pour s’unir ensemble contre elle. Nous sommes plus forts en tant que partenaires pour construire la paix, comme dans le sport, et dans l’amour que nous portons pour nos semblables."

#YELLOWSUNDAY

#YELLOWSUNDAY

Join Congolese civilians worldwide for Yellow Sunday on June 19, 2016. Together we will stand in solidarity to increase public awareness of the ongoing atrocities in Beni and throughout Congo, and mobilize support for those fighting for peace and justice. 

In Congolese traditions, yellow symbolizes wealth. Congo's greatest wealth is its people, who struggle under violence, corruption, and poverty. Join our effort by wearing yellow on Sunday, June 19; take a picture of yourself, your friends, your families, your church and community wearing yellow and post it on social media using hashtag #YellowSunday #DimancheJaune #JeSuisBeni #Congo.

Feel free to use the graphics below to aid your efforts! 

Resources:

Mukwege: End Sexual Violence in Conflict

Mukwege: End Sexual Violence in Conflict

Statement from Dr. Denis Mukwege, 19 June 2016

Today we celebrate the first International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict.

Our thoughts immediately go to all victims, all the women and men, girls and boys, sometimes even babies, who have been abused, tortured, and subjected to rape as a strategy of war.  Rape that becomes a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population on national, political, ethnic or racial grounds is a Crime Against Humanity. Rape is a cost efficient, cruel, inhumane and degrading war strategy deployed in too many modern conflicts.

Rape as a weapon of war should not be confused with rape, or non-consensual sex. It is first and foremost a strategy of humiliation, power, and subjection - usually committed in public, and targeting civilians. It also covers sexual slavery and forced sterilization. Systemic, orchestrated rapes are often a weapon that forces people from their homes, destroys family life, and the social fabric of entire communities. It aims to destroy the source of life and so, it concerns us all. Rape in conflict leaves evidence behind, including children born of rape, and the lingering horror when rape and gender-based violence metastasize and spread through traumatized communities and societies, their values lost, often for generations.

The first time I testified before the United Nations Security Council on the rapes committed in the Eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a diplomat from one of the permanent members was reluctant to even discuss this issue at the United Nations Security Council.

Since then, progress has been made. There is growing awareness at the global level and a multitude of resolutions have been adopted by the Security Council in the wake of resolution 1325. After a too long silence and a culture of denial, the question has now attracted attention and more and more survivors are aware of their right to justice and their right to access health care safely.  

The adoption of this international day sends a strong message: the international community has opened their eyes and calls on each of us, men and women, to take action against this heinous crime. Each of us can make a difference. We can contribute to changes in attitudes to end the crime of rape, which is often presented as the oldest in the history of humanity, but which remains unpunished far too often.

We must redouble our efforts though, to raise awareness among opinion and policy makers. Together we must seek an end to impunity, and pursue justice for the victims of Rape in Conflict subjected to these crimes that shock the conscience of our collective humanity. 

The law represents the most effective tool for preventing sex crimes, at home or abroad. The landmark Akayesu case set a legal precedent and created a framework for the law, for policy makers, survivors, and their communities. In recent months, we have been encouraged by the conviction of military officials in Guatemala for acts committed against Mayan women in the early 1980s. The conviction and condemnation of the former President of Chad, Hissène Habré, in Senegal was a welcome victory for both victims and civil society associations, as well as for truth – and history. International criminal justice should focus on those who orchestrate and oversee these crimes, and on the individual perpetrators. Despite the modest progress made, I remain dismayed by the upsurge of sexual violence during conflict, leaving the overwhelming majority of victims continue to suffer in silence, without benefiting from services which are so much needed to restore their dignity.  

It is time to act, to turn words into actions, and to establish a strategy. Concrete actions with real political will further the commitments made at the London Summit, and aid us in seeing an end to sexual violence in times of conflict. It takes a clear and unequivocal commitment by each one of us, in partnership with the international community. We must establish a red line against the use of rape as a weapon of war. We must create a lasting legacy of peace and democracy not one of impunity and indifference.

Dr. Denis Mukwege, PhD


Communiqué de presse du Dr. Denis Mukwege à l’occasion de la journée internationale pour l’élimination des violences sexuelles en période de conflit

Aujourd’hui, nous célébrons la première journée internationale pour l’élimination des violences sexuelles en période de conflit.

Nos pensées vont immédiatement à toutes les victimes, hommes et femmes, garçons et jeunes filles, parfois même des enfants et des bébés, qui ont été abusés, torturés, et soumis au viol commis comme une stratégie de guerre - technique cruelle, inhumaine et dégradante qui se répand dans de trop nombreux conflits modernes.

Le viol comme arme de guerre ne doit pas être confondu avec une relation sexuelle non consentie, car il est commis le plus souvent sur des civils, en public, et de manière méthodique, massive et systématique. Les communautés locales sont également victimes d’une pléthore de violences sexuelles comme l’esclavage sexuel et les stérilisations forcées. Il s’agit avant tout d’une stratégie d’humiliation, de pouvoir et d’assujettissement. Le viol commis avec extrême violence vise non seulement à détruire l’appareil génital de la femme, mais avant tout à terroriser la population, à la forcer au déplacement, à détruire la vie familiale et le tissu social. Il vise donc à détruire la source de la vie et nous concerne tous. De plus, il continue à laisser des traces multiples après la guerre - notamment pour tous les enfants issus du viol, lorsque le viol et les violences basées sur le genre se répandent comme des métastases dans des sociétés traumatisées et en perte de valeurs, souvent pour plusieurs générations. 

Les conséquences du viol commis avec extrême violence s’apparentent aux effets des armes classiques, voire des armes de destruction massive. La première fois que j’ai témoigné devant le Conseil de Sécurité sur les viols commis à l’Est de la République Démocratique du Congo, un diplomate d’un des pays membres permanents avait fait remarqué son incompréhension à débattre de cette question au Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies.

Depuis lors, des progrès ont été accomplis : une prise de conscience grandissante gagne l’opinion publique mondiale et le Conseil de Sécurité a adopté plusieurs résolutions importantes dans la foulée de la résolution 1325. Après un trop long silence et une culture de déni de la réalité, la question retient à présent l’attention et de plus en plus de survivantes sont informées de leurs droits à la justice mais aussi à l’accès à la santé. 

L’adoption de cette journée internationale envoie un signal fort: la communauté internationale a ouvert les yeux et interpelle chacun de nous à briser l’indifférence, à se mobiliser ensemble, hommes et femmes, contre ce crime odieux. Chacun de nous doit se révolter face à l’inacceptable, et chacun de nous a vocation à contribuer au changement des mentalités pour mettre fin à ce crime souvent présenté comme le plus vieux de l’histoire de l’humanité, mais qui est toujours resté impuni. 

Telle est la raison pour redoubler les efforts de lutte contre l’impunité pour ces crimes qui choquent la conscience de l’humanité. La justice représente l’outil le plus efficace pour prévenir la répétition de ces crimes à caractère sexuel.  Depuis le précédent historique de l’affaire Akayesu lors du génocide au Rwanda, nous avons été encouragés par la condamnation récente de responsables militaires au Guatemala pour des faits commis contre des femmes Maya au début des années 80. La condamnation de Hissène Habré au Sénégal a aussi été saluée par tous comme une victoire des associations de victimes et de la société civile sur la vérité et l’histoire, et un précédent important sur la base du principe de la compétence universelle. Nous gageons que la justice pénale internationale ne va plus s’intéresser qu’aux simples exécutants ou aux petits poissons car malgré les timides progrès enregistrés, nous constatons avec effroi une recrudescence de violences sexuelles en période de conflit et l’écrasante majorité des victimes continuent de souffrir en silence, sans bénéficier des soins si nécessaires pour la restauration de leur dignité. 
 
Il est plus que temps d’agir, de transformer les paroles en actes et d’établir une stratégie et des actions concrètes avec une réelle volonté politique suite aux déclarations faites au Sommet de Londres pour mettre fin aux violences sexuelles en période de conflit. Il faut un engagement clair et univoque pour que la communauté internationale établisse une ligne rouge contre l’usage du viol et les violences sexuelles utilisées comme une arme de guerre. Et ne la laisse plus se faire transgresser dans l’impunité et l’indifférence. 

Dr. Denis Mukwege


ASIA, THE AMERICAS, & EUROPE

Elizabeth Blackney, Media and Communications Director, Panzi Hospital and Foundations
Email: ElizabethB@pfusa.org
Tele: +1 541.390.1913 Skype: @medializzy

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Daniel Murhula Musaka, Communications Officer at Panzi Hospital
Email: danielmusaka@gmail.com

Prince Mujumbe Salama, Communications Officer at Panzi Foundation DRC and Website & Financial Administrator at ICART
Email: Communication@fondationpanzidrc.org
Skype: Prince-Kwamiso

Dr. Mukwege at Oslo Freedom Forum

Remarks as prepared for delivery by at the Oslo Freedom Forum, in French and English. 

Distingués invités,
Mesdames, Messieurs,

C’est une grande source d’inspiration pour moi d’être aujourd’hui à vos côtés, femmes et hommes épris de paix, de justice et de liberté. Chaque jour, nous luttons à travers le monde pour la promotion et la protection des droits humains, dans des régions où bien souvent l’arbitraire et l’oppression règnent, et où la paix, la justice et la liberté représentent des idéaux à atteindre. Chaque jour, nous sommes confrontés à la violence et à la folie humaine, mais nous répondons par l’amour et nous gardons l’espoir des lendemains meilleurs.

Nous sommes d’accord avec le slogan du Forum: une étincelle peut allumer un feu. Le battement des ailes d’un papillon peut provoquer un ouragan. Chacun de nous peut contribuer à l’édification d’un monde meilleur. Chacun de nous peut être un catalyseur pour le changement.

A l’Est de la République démocratique du Congo (RDC), malgré les différents accords de paix, censés aboutir à une transition démocratique en présence de la plus grande mission de paix des Nations Unies, nous vivons aujourd’hui dans une période de ni guerre ni paix.

Nous sommes confrontés à une nouvelle forme de conflits menés par une pléthore de groupes armés, qui s’apparentent à des entreprises criminelles, et qui opèrent de manière opaque avec la complicité d’hommes d’affaires cupides et sans scrupules sous l’œil indifférent de nos leaders corrompus, qui sacrifient nos terres et nos peuples pour des intérêts personnels, dans une économie largement militarisée.

Au début de ce mois, plus de 50 personnes ont été massacrées dans les Provinces du Nord Kivu et de l’Ituri. Des enfants ont été décapités et des femmes enceintes éventrées à la machette près de Beni, à proximité d’une base des Forces armées de la RDC et des Forces de la Mission des Nations Unies pour la Stabilisation en RDC, pourtant habilitée à utiliser « tous les moyens nécessaires » pour protéger la population civile. 

Les autorités de la RDC n’ont même pas réagi à ces atrocités de masse récurrentes. Le Congo, ce géant malade, se trouve à nouveau à un tournant critique: tous les signaux d’alerte sont au rouge! 

Dans un contexte préélectoral explosif et incertain, nous assistons à une dégradation de la situation sécuritaire et humanitaire et nous observons une dérive autoritaire inquiétante du pouvoir entraînant une recrudescence du nombre de violations des droits humains et une restriction de l’espace des libertés pour les citoyens, la société civile et l’opposition.

La population est livrée à elle-même, et tous les efforts du régime en place semblent résider dans son souhait de s’accrocher au pouvoir en instaurant un climat de peur et en ayant recours à diverses manœuvres dilatoires destinées à créer une impasse politique. L’ordre constitutionnel est en péril, ainsi que la perspective et l’aspiration d’une Nation à vivre la première transition démocratique de son histoire.

Nous sommes tristement bien placés pour savoir qu’à chaque pic de dégradation sécuritaire et d’instabilité politique et institutionnelle correspond un pic dans le nombre de femmes victimes de violences sexuelles. Voici près de vingt ans que nous traitons les victimes de la violence à l’Hôpital de Panzi.

Depuis lors, nous avons soignés plus de 45.000 femmes, de jeunes filles et de bébés, parfois âgés d’à peine 6 mois ! Et nous avons développé un modèle d’assistance holistique qui comprend quatre volets : le médico-chirurgical, le psycho-social, le socio-économique et légal. 

Le modèle d’assistance holistique développé à Panzi a commencé à être dupliqué, sous forme de « One stop center » ou de « Guichet unique », dont l’objectif est d’intégrer tous les besoins liés à la santé de la femme dans sa globalité au sein du système de soins de santé primaires. La plus-value de notre système est sa vocation à insérer la santé mentale dans le système de santé de soins primaires existants.

Notre stratégie vise à transformer la souffrance en force, transformer la peine en pouvoir, et d’outiller les femmes pour développer leur capacité à devenir autonomes à leur sortie. Et nous constatons avec satisfaction que de nombreuses femmes, après quelques semaines ou mois de traitement, d’accompagnement et de renforcement de capacités, deviennent de véritables activistes des droits humains, protégeant non seulement leurs droits, mais aussi ceux de leurs enfants et de leurs communautés, faisant d’elles des leaders dans leur milieu et des véritables catalyseurs pour un changement radical du système oppressif de notre société en perte de valeurs. Nous pensons que la révolution morale viendra par ces femmes. 

Je souhaite partager avec vous l’histoire d’une femme qui m’a fort bouleversé. Après avoir été violée et contaminée par le VIH, devenue veuve suite à l’assassinat de son mari, Rose va être prise en charge par l’Hôpital pour le traitement du Sida. A son admission, cette femme adulte pesait à peine 30 kilos, et son pronostic vital était en jeu. Elle était hantée par la mort, angoissée à l’idée de laisser ses enfants orphelins de père et de mère. Après avoir été entourée d’amour et de soins appropriés, elle a repris doucement. 

A la sortie de l’Hôpital, elle a été insérée dans un programme de coupe et couture et d’agriculture. Au bout de 5 ans, Rose est venue nous présenter à Panzi ses enfants qui sont désormais scolarisés ; elle a pu s’acheter sa maison grâce à la vente de boutures de manioc, et elle évalua, avec un sourire de satisfaction au bout des lèvres, son capital à 10.000$, alors que le micro-crédit qu’elle avait reçu s’élevait à 50$ ! Quelle résilience, quelle force !

Pour mettre fin au viol des femmes à l’Est du Congo, il faut enrayer la violence et consolider le chemin de la paix et la démocratie. Il faut briser le silence et l’indifférence qui ont trop longtemps prévalu. Il faut mobiliser les hommes contre les violences faites aux femmes. Il faut transférer le stigma qui pèse sur les victimes sur les épaules et la conscience de leurs bourreaux. Il faut lutter contre l’impunité pour tous ces crimes qui choquent la conscience de l’humanité et utiliser tous les mécanismes de la justice transitionnelle : poursuites nationales et internationales, réparations individuelles et collectives, assainissement des institutions et des services publics, mécanismes d’établissement de la vérité.

Pour mettre fin au viol des femmes à l’Est du Congo, il faut une réelle volonté politique de l’Etat congolais qui persiste dans son narratif de déni et il est plus que temps de mettre en œuvre la responsabilité de protéger les populations civiles. Il est crucial que la communauté internationale, le monde diplomatique, les bailleurs de fonds et la justice pénale internationale ne laissent plus transgresser les lignes rouges sans réagir. 

Pour mettre fin au viol des femmes à l’Est du Congo, la dignité humaine doit être placée au cœur des préoccupations économiques et financières et il faut couper les liens existants entre les conflits armés et l’exploitation illégale des ressources naturelles, parfois appelées « minerais des conflits » ou « minerais de sang », dont regorgent la région où je vis, et dont le monde entier a besoin pour nos technologies modernes. Nous sommes les témoins d’une nouvelle forme d’esclavagisme des femmes, mais aussi des enfants qui travaillent dans des conditions inhumaines, et qui sont victimes de toutes sortes d’abus. Les consommateurs que nous sommes doivent être informés pour ne pas être indirectement associés par nos achats à des crimes odieux sans savoir les liens existants entre leurs téléphones et autres gadgets et l’instabilité en RDC.

Ensemble, défenseurs des droits humains et décideurs politiques, acteurs économiques et dirigeants de sociétés, citoyens et consommateurs, hommes et femmes épris de paix, de justice et de liberté, nous pouvons mettre fin à la violence sexuelle et construire un monde meilleur pour les générations futures, dans une liberté plus grande, où l’égalité des sexes deviendra une réalité, dans l’intérêt de tous.

Je gage que nous y parviendrons !

Je vous remerci.


Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

It is a great inspiration for me to be among so many women and men committed to peace, justice and freedom. Every day, we struggle around the world for the promotion and the protection of human rights, in regions under the arbitrary rule and oppression where peace, justice and freedom are ideals still to be attained. Every day, we are confronted with violence and human madness, but we respond with love and we hope for a better future. 

We agree with the theme of the Forum: a spark can ignite a fire. The batting of the wings of a butterfly can stir up a typhoon. Each one of us can contribute to the building of a better world. Each one of us can be a catalyst for change. 

In the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, despite various peace agreements, which were supposed to usher in a democratic transition under the watch of the UNs largest peacekeeping mission—we live today in a period of neither war nor peace. 

It is a new form of conflict involving a plethora of armed groups. Like criminal enterprises, they operate in opacity, with the complicity of unscrupulous businessmen, and the indifference of our corrupt leaders, who sacrifice our land and our people for personal interests, in an economy that is largely militarized. 

At the beginning of this month, more than 50 people were killed in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri. Children have been decapitated and pregnant women have been disemboweled with machetes near a base of the DRC armed forces and forces of the UN mission for the stabilization of DRC—even though the mission is mandated to use “any means necessary” to protect the civilian population.

DRC authorities did not even react to these recurring mass atrocities. Congo, this sick giant, is again at a critical turning point: all the signs of alarm are red! 

In a tense and uncertain pre-election context, we are witnessing the degradation of the security and humanitarian situation and a troubling slide of the government towards authoritarianism, which is leading to an increase in the number of human rights violations and restrictions on freedoms for citizens, civil society and the opposition. 

The population is left to fend for itself, and all the efforts of the regime in place seem to reside in its wish to cling to power by creating a climate of fear and using diverse maneuvers intended to create a political impasse. The constitutional order is in peril, as well as the opportunity and aspiration of a nation to experience the first democratic change of government in its history.

We are sadly very well placed to know that every peak of degradation of the security situation and political and institutional instability matches with a spike in the number of women victimized by sexual violence. 

We have been treating the victims of this violence for nearly 20 years at Panzi hospital.
Since then, we have treated more than 45,000 women, young girls and babies, some as young as 6 months! In addition, we have developed a model of holistic treatment, which includes 4 segments: medico-surgical, psychosocial, socio-economic, and legal. 

The holistic treatment model developed at Panzi has begun to be duplicated, under the form of “one stop center” or “one-stop shop” whose objective is to integrate all the health needs of the woman in the system of primary healthcare. The added value of our system is its dedication in integrating mental health in the existing primary care. 

Our strategy aims to transform suffering into strength, transforming pain into power and to empower the women to develop their capacity to become autonomous when they go out. We have observed with satisfaction that, after several weeks or months of treatment, support and strengthening, numerous women become real human rights activists, protecting not only their rights, but also those of their children and their communities. They become leaders in their community and real catalysts for radical change of the oppressive system gripping our society, which is losing its values. We think that these women will lead the moral revolution. 
I wish to share with you the story of a woman who has greatly moved me. After having been raped and infected with AIDS, having been made a widow following the assassination of her husband, Rose was admitted to the hospital for AIDS treatment. When she was hospitalized, this adult woman barely weighed 30 kg, and her prognosis for survival was uncertain. She was haunted by death, anguished by the thought of leaving her children behind as orphans. After receiving love and adequate care, she began a slow recovery. 

After her discharge from the hospital, she enrolled into a program teaching sewing and agriculture. 5 years later, Rose brought her kids to Panzi Hospital to introduce them to us. They were all in school by then. She was able to buy her house with the money she earned from selling cassava, and with a smile, she estimated her net worth at $10,000—even though the micro credit that she had received was for $50. Such resilience, such strength! 

To end the rape of women in eastern Congo, we must eradicate violence and consolidate the path to path to peace and democracy. We must break the silence in response to the denial and indifference, which have prevailed for too long. We must mobilize men against violence against women. We must transfer the stigma from the victims to the shoulders and the conscience of their aggressors. We must fight against impunity for all these crimes, which shock the conscience of humanity. We must utilize all the tools and mechanisms of transitional justice: prosecutions of perpetrators, at the national and international level, and a reform of public services and institutions, which are mechanisms for the establishment of truth.  

To end the rape of women in eastern Congo, we need genuine political will from the Congolese government, which persists in its narrative of denial. Furthermore, it is high time we establish the responsibility to protect civilian populations. It is crucial that the international community, the diplomatic world, donors and international criminal justice do not allow the red lines to be crossed without reacting. 

To end rape against women in Eastern Congo, human dignity must be at the heart of economic and financial interests. We must break the existing links between armed conflicts and illegal exploitation of natural resources. Often called “conflict minerals” or “blood minerals,” these resources are abundant in the region where I live, and they power our modern technologies. We are the witnesses of a new form of slavery of women, but also children who work in inhumane conditions and are victims of all forms of abuse. The consumers that we are must be informed so that we are not indirectly associated, through our purchases, to odious crimes. We must be aware of the links between our mobile phones and other devices and instability in the DRC. 

Together, human rights defenders and political decision makers, economic actors and leaders of societies, citizens and consumers, men and women committed to peace, justice and freedom, we can end sexual violence and build a better world for future generations with greater freedom, where equality of sexes will become a reality, in the interest of all. 
I am confident that we will be successful! I thank you.