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Kavumu: Statement from Dr. Denis Mukwege

Kavumu: Statement from Dr. Denis Mukwege

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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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."

 

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

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