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Dr. Denis Mukwege

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."

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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. 

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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.

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.

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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."

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

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

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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

Statement: Dr. Mukwege on Beni Massacres

 

Statement from Dr Denis Mukwege – 17 May 2016
After Beni Massacres, "peace cannot be achieved at the expense of justice."

(Bukavu, DRC) Since early May, more than 50 people have been brutally massacred in Beni, in North Kivu Province, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Since October 2014, the death toll in Beni has risen to more than 600. Photographs of these atrocities of masses are unbearable: pregnant women disemboweled, mutilated infants, human beings trussed up and their throats slit with a knife.

From the bottom of my heart, I extend my heartfelt and deepest condolences to all the families affected by this despicable barbarity, and also to all my countrymen and to all friends of the Congo who know victims of the atrocities committed in Beni, Lubero, Rutshuru, and elsewhere.

Our hearts are profoundly affected by the injuries related to the armed conflicts in the region; the crimes and barbaric atrocities occurring in the Eastern DRC for 20 years appear to be resurgent. The population feels abandoned and left to fend for themselves.

The blood of our Congolese sisters and brothers must stop flowing into the streets. Nothing can justify such cruelties, these are men and women and children, and their deaths are not simple news items. Their lives matter. 

More than 2000 kilometers from Beni, our leaders are creating a political empasse, through a false battle around the interpretation of our constitution. The apparent objective is the perpetuation of chaos in order to preserve the privileges of certain people close to those in power. Meanwhile in Beni, evil continues striking our villages leaving behind terror, chaos, blood, and houses aflame.

The Congolese are frustrated, hurt and humiliated. They are demanding more accountability and efficiency on the part of those who govern them. They are mobilizing to achieve the long-awaited, and promised, change.

Delaying tactics and an apparent intent to thwart elections occurring within the timeframe set forth in the constitution, creating a ‘glissement’ or ‘slippage.’ This is extremely dangerous and a violation of the 2277 resolution of the UN Security Council and the principles of the 2007 African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. This glissement would only prolong the suffering of the Congolese people, to better secure and continue to exploit its resources without accountability.

The definitive solution to the problems plaguing the DRC requires holistic consideration of evil, and the awakening of the patriotic consciousness of the Congolese people. Then the overhaul of the State must establish and enforce laws that embrace human rights and governance oriented to the satisfaction, and in the best interest of all the people. In short, a radical change must occur. The Congolese people must be at the forefront of national sovereignty.

I appeal once again to the international community to implement its responsibility to protect civilians in the heart of the Great Lakes region, where truth and justice have been sacrificed on the altar of peace. We have waited too long, because until now we have neither peace nor justice.

As the massacres in eastern Congo illustrate, peace cannot be achieved at the expense of justice. I am reminded of the words Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in 1963, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied." Peace can only be achieved where civil and human rights, in concert with economic development and education, and justice, are recognized by our government and the international community. 


Communiqué de Presse du Dr Denis Mukwege – 17 mai 2016

En ce début de mois de mai, plus de 50 personnes ont été sauvagement massacrées dans le Territoire de Béni, dans la Province du Nord Kivu, à l’Est de la République Démocratique du Congo. Depuis octobre 2014, le bilan s’élève à plus de 600 morts ! Les images de ces atrocités de masses sont insupportables: des femmes enceintes éventrées, des bébés mutilés, des êtres humains ligotés et égorgés à l’arme blanche. 

Du fond de mon cœur, j'adresse mes condoléances les plus sincères et attristées à toutes les familles frappées par cette barbarie ignoble, et aussi à tous mes compatriotes et à tous les amis du Congo qui s'identifient aux victimes de Béni, de Lubero, de Rutshuru et d’ailleurs.

Nos cœurs sont profondément meurtris, et nos blessures liées aux conflits armés récurrents dans la région ; les crimes et barbaries qui sévissent dans l'Est de la RDC depuis 20 ans refont surface avec une nouvelle intensité. La population a le sentiment d'être abandonné et livré à elle-même. 

Le sang des Congolais doit cesser de couler. Rien ne saurait justifier de pareilles cruautés qui passent dans l’actualité comme de simples faits divers. Chaque vie compte.
Alors que nos gouvernants organisent une impasse politique et se livrent, à plus de 2000 km de Béni, à une fausse bataille d'interprétation de notre Constitution qui constitue en réalité une démarche bassement politicienne ayant pour objectif de perpétuer un chaos organisé visant la préservation des privilèges de quelques proches du pouvoir, le mal court, traverse nos villages laissant, derrière lui, terreur, chaos, sang et maisons en feu.

Les Congolais sont exaspérés, meurtris et humiliés.  Ils réclament plus de responsabilité et d'efficacité de la part de ceux qui les gouvernent. Ils se mobilisent pour parvenir au changement tant attendu.

Les manœuvres dilatoires ayant pour projet apparent d’hypothéquer l’organisation des élections dans les délais constitutionnels préparent un « glissement » extrêmement dangereux et une violation de la résolution 2277 du Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies et des principes de la Chartre Africaine de la démocratie, des élections et de la gouvernance, qui entrainerait une prolongation des souffrances du peuple congolais, en vue de mieux l'assujettir et continuer à exploiter ses ressources sans redevabilité.

La solution définitive  de la RDC requiert une prise en compte holistique du mal congolais, qui passera d'abord par l'éveil de la conscience patriotique du peuple, ensuite par la refondation de l'Etat, et enfin par l’instauration d’un état de droit respectueux des droits humains et une gouvernance orientée vers la satisfaction de l’intérêt général : en bref, un changement radical de l'actuel système. Pour y arriver, l'acteur principal reste le peuple congolais qui doit s’assumer en tant que détenteur primaire de la souveraineté nationale.

J'en appelle, une fois encore, à la communauté internationale pour mettre en œuvre sa responsabilité de protéger les populations civiles au cœur de la région des Grands Lacs, où la vérité et la justice ont été sacrifiées sur l'autel de la paix que nous attendons depuis trop longtemps, car jusqu’à ce jour nous n'avons ni la paix, ni la justice. 

Ces derniers massacres commis à l’Est du Congo illustrent à suffisance, hélas, que la paix ne saurait s'obtenir au détriment de la justice.  Je me rappelle les mots écrits en 1963 par le Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: « Une justice trop tardive est un déni de justice ». La paix ne peut être atteinte que lorsque le respect des droits humains et des libertés fondamentales, allant de pair avec un développement économique et l’accès à l’éducation et à la justice pour tous, seront reconnus par notre gouvernement et la communauté internationale.

Dr. Denis Mukwege, PhD