Friday, October 26, 2012

Dr. Dennis Mukwege's Speech at the UN, Sept. 2012

Speech made by Dr. Denis Mukwege on September 25, 2012
at a UN General Assembly side event on sexual violence

Your Excellencies, Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would have liked to begin my speech with the usual formulation, “I have the honor and privilege of taking the floor before you.” Alas! The women victims of sexual violence in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo are in dishonor. I constantly with my own eyes see the vague stare of the elder women, the children, the mothers who are dishonored. Still today, many are subjected to sexual slavery; others are used as a weapon of war. Their organs are exposed to the most heinous abuse, often without access to medical care.

And this has been going on for sixteen years! Sixteen years of wanderings; sixteen years of torture; sixteen years of mutilation; sixteen years of the destruction of women, the only vital Congolese resource; sixteen years of breakdown of an entire society. Certainly your respective countries have done much to address the consequences, and we are very grateful for that.

I would have liked to also say “I have the honor of being part of the international community that you represent here.” but I cannot. How can I say this to you, representatives of the international community, when the international community has shown its fear and lack of courage during these sixteen years in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

I would have liked to say as well “I have the honor of representing my country,” but I cannot. In fact, how can one be proud of belonging to a nation without defense, left to itself, completely pillaged and powerless in the face of five hundred thousands of its girls raped during sixteen years; six million of its sons and daughters killed during sixteen years without any lasting solution in sight?

No, I do not have the honor, nor the privilege to be here today. My heart is heavy. My honor, it is rather to be with these courageous women victims of sexual violence, these women who resist, these women who despite all remain standing.

Today, thanks to the report by the UN Group of Experts, the Mapping Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations, and many other credible reports, no one can continue to hide behind the argument of the complexity of the crisis. We know now the motivations behind this crisis and its different actors. What is missing is the political will.

Excellencies, Ambassadors; it is with great humility that i tell you that we need courage to stop this crisis that has lasted for far too long. Sixteen years is too much. We do not need more proof. We need action, urgent action, to arrest those responsible for these crimes against humanity and to bring them to justice. And justice is not negotiable. We need your unanimous condemnation of the rebel groups who are responsible for these acts. We also need concrete actions with regard to member states of the United Nations who support these barbarities from near or afar.

We are facing a humanitarian emergency that no longer has room for equivocation. All the ingredients are there to put an end to an unjust war that has used violence against women and rape as a strategy of war. Congolese women have the right to protection just as all the women on this planet.

Shelving all these credible reports will gravely harm the credibility of the various United Nations resolutions requiring the protection of women in times of conflict and will entirely discredit our dear institution, which is supposed to ensure the non repetition of genocide.

The advances made by our civilization are declining; they are declining through new barbarities that we are seeing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Syria; but also through the deafening silence and the lack of courage of the international community. We cannot silence the truth as it is persistent. We should rather confront it to avoid betraying our ideals.

I have the honor to say that the courage of women victims of sexual violence in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo will, in the end, overcome this evil.

Help them restore peace!

Thank you.

Friday, October 19, 2012

UN Security Council Statement on DRC

Statement by the President of the Security Council
adopted on 19 October 2012
on the situation concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo

1. The Security Council expresses its deep concern regarding the deteriorating security and humanitarian crisis in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) due to ongoing military and other destabilizing activities of the 23 March Movement (M23) as well as other armed groups.

2. The Security Council strongly condemns the M23 and all its attacks on the civilian population, United Nations peacekeepers and humanitarian actors, as well as its abuses of human rights, including summary executions, sexual and gender based violence and large scale recruitment and use of child soldiers. The Security Council also condemns the attempts by the M23 to establish a parallel administration and to undermine State authority. The Security Council demands that the M23 and other armed groups, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), cease immediately all forms of violence and other destabilizing activities.

3. The Security Council calls for perpetrators, including individuals responsible for violence against children and acts of sexual violence, to be apprehended, brought to justice and held accountable for violations of applicable international law. The Security Council expresses its intention to apply targeted sanctions against the leadership of the M23 and those acting in violation of the sanctions regime and the arms embargo and calls on all Member States to submit, as a matter of urgency, listing proposals to the 1533 Committee.

4. The Security Council expresses its deep concern with the increasing number of displaced persons and refugees, with 320,000 people displaced from their homes in North Kivu province since the M23 mutiny started in April 2012. It calls on all parties, in particular the M23, to allow safe, timely and unhindered humanitarian access to the areas under the control of M23 and in the wider region in accordance with international law, including applicable international humanitarian law and the guiding principles of humanitarian assistance. It expresses concern about the shortfall in funding for humanitarian assistance and reiterates its call on the international community to provide appropriate humanitarian support. It also expresses concern at the possible negative impact of the prevailing situation in North Kivu on the security and humanitarian situation in South Kivu.

5. The Security Council reaffirms its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the DRC and emphasizes the need to respect fully the principles of non-interference, good neighborliness and regional cooperation. It reiterates its strong condemnation of any and all external support to the M23. In this regard, the Security Council expresses deep concern at reports indicating that such support continues to be provided to the M23 by neighboring countries. The Security Council demands that any and all outside support to the M23 as well as other armed groups cease immediately.

6. The Security Council calls upon all countries in the region to condemn the M23 as well as other armed groups and to cooperate actively with the Congolese authorities in disarming and demobilizing the M23 as well as other armed groups and dismantling the M23 parallel administration.

7. The Security Council emphasizes the primary responsibility of the Government of the DRC to reinforce State authority and governance in eastern DRC, including through effective security sector reform to allow army and police reform, and to end impunity for abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, and urges the Government of the DRC to address issues of illegal exploitation and smuggling of natural resources.

8. The Security Council welcomes the efforts of the United Nations Secretary General as well as of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union, to restore peace and security in Eastern DRC. It also stresses the urgency of constructive engagement and dialogue between the DRC and its neighbors, especially Rwanda, and the need to address the underlying causes of the conflict in eastern DRC. It calls on the UN Secretary General to continue his good offices and to explore, when appropriate, further high-level diplomatic mechanisms to facilitate enhanced dialogue between relevant parties, including on the underlying causes of the conflict.

9. The Security Council welcomes the establishment of the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM), which was launched by the ICGLR on 14 September as an important starting point for rebuilding confidence between the DRC and Rwanda. It further welcomes the support provided by the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) to the EJVM and encourages, in coordination with ICGLR members, the participation of MONUSCO, as appropriate and within the limits of its capacities and mandate, in the activities of the EJVM and the reporting on any flow of arms and related materiel across borders of Eastern DRC.

10. The Security Council takes note of the decisions by the ICGLR and the AU regarding the deployment of a “Neutral International Force” in eastern DRC and takes note of the ongoing coordination efforts between these organizations and the United Nations to clarify the objectives, modalities and means of the proposed Force in relation to MONUSCO.

11. The Security Council expresses its full support to the UN Group of Experts of the 1533 Committee and calls for enhanced cooperation between all States, particularly those in the region, and the Group of Experts, encourages further that all parties and all States ensure cooperation with the Group of Experts by individuals and entities within their jurisdiction or under their control and reiterates its demand that all parties and all States ensure the safety of its members, and unhindered and immediate access, in particular to persons, documents and sites the Group of Experts deems relevant to the execution of its mandate.

12. The Security Council expresses its full support to MONUSCO and commends the active measures it has taken to implement its mandate in eastern DRC, especially protecting civilians, and encourages the continuation of these efforts. The Security Council requests the Secretary General to present to the Security Council a special report on possible options, and their implications, for reinforcing the ability of MONUSCO to implement its mandate, including to protect civilians and report on flows of arms and related materiel across borders of Eastern DRC, focusing in particular on force multipliers. It calls on all parties to cooperate fully with the Mission and reiterates its condemnation of any attacks on its peacekeepers. The Security Council recalls that the Congolese Government bears the primary responsibility for ensuring security in its territory and protecting its civilians. The Security Council recalls the importance of close consultations with troop- and police- contributing countries.


Saturday, October 06, 2012

Congo Week: Commemorate The Tragedy, Celebrate the Culture

Dear Friends,

I greet you in the midst of these very trying times for my country. Since April, nearly a half million Congolese have been displaced and rendered homeless by a Rwandan-backed rebel movement in the east of our country. A United Nations Group of Experts report says Rwanda is training, arming and financing rebels that have destabilized the east of the Congo.

The reason we host Congo Week in the month of October is because it was in October 1996 that mainly Rwanda and Uganda first invaded the Congo and triggered the catastrophic crisis that we have endured for the past 16 years. Since we began Congo Week in 2008, sixty countries and over 300 communities have joined us to demonstrate their support and value for Congolese lives.

Due to your support along with others throughout the globe, world leaders are finally listening to Congolese voices and applying pressure to the dominant source of the instability in the east of our country. The United States, Netherlands, Sweden and a number of other donor nations are finally holding the Rwandan government accountable by withholding aid as a result of Rwanda's support for rebel groups inside the Congo.

As youth and future leaders of our country, we are clear that Congo's challenge is both external and internal. Young people will gather throughout the country during Congo Week (October 14 - 20, 2012) to discuss and examine the path that Congo took to arrive in its current condition and build on strategies for realizing peaceful and lasting change.

We call on you to join us in addressing our external challenges as we face and tackle the various internal forces that have rendered our country dependent, impoverished and unstable.

This is an historic opportunity for you to be a part of the global movement to bring an end to what is described as the greatest humanitarian crisis at the dawn of the 21st century and the deadliest conflict since World War Two.

We encourage you to seize the moment and become a part of a noble pursuit for justice and human dignity in the heart of Africa, my home, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Samya Lugoma
Student Coordinator
Friends of the Congo

Sign-up for Congo Week!

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Remember to post your event on the events calendar:

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Screen our film Crisis in the Congo: Uncovering the Truth

Participate in the CELL-OUT, on October 17, 2012. The CELL-OUT is a one-hour digital moment of silence in support of the Congolese people.

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