by Ann Garrison
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Dr. Denis Mukwege is receiving death threats, and not for the first time.
Dr. Mukwege has won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Sakharov Prize and a long list of other human rights awards for treating women victims of sexual violence used as a weapon in the resource wars that plague eastern Congo. He founded Panzi Hospital in Congo’s South Kivu Province for surgical and post-surgical treatment of victims.
Dr. Mukwege is also outspoken about the root causes of the violence, including Rwanda’s covert war to annex Congo’s Kivu Provinces. Both North and South Kivu Provinces are fabulously resource rich and both border Rwanda. This is the translation of Dr. Mukwege’s recent YouTube appeal to Congolese and the international community regarding a proposal to create an “Independent Nation of Kivu,” which would be a step towards annexation by Rwanda:
“Congolese men and women, national and international institutions:
“For several days messages have been circulating on national media calling for the creation of a so-called ‘Republic of Kivu.’ This is a meaningless project which serves neither the best interests nor the aspirations of our people. Since July 1, the instigators of this plot have taken a new step by publishing a list of members of their so-called ‘government’ on which my name has been illegally registered.
“First of all, I would like to express my disapproval of these acts, which involve the use of forgery and defamation, which are liable to prosecution.
“Their aim is to see us divided and weakened to better plunder our natural resources and enslave our population. These are the same people who, for 10 years, have blocked the United Nations ‘Mapping Report,’. . .”
“Next, I would like to draw the attention of our people to the trap behind this fallacious Kivu independence. Objectively, this is yet another attempt to destabilize and dismember our country. Its actors would be the same traitors who have been acting in collusion with foreign forces for over 25 years, imposing wars on our populations and causing unbearable suffering.
“Their aim is to see us divided and weakened to better plunder our natural resources and enslave our population. These are the same people who, for 10 years, have blocked the United Nations ‘Mapping Report,’ which listed 617 serious crimes committed in DR Congo between 1993 and 2003. The macabre count unfortunately continues until this day.
“Some of these acts may be considered to constitute genocide and we must remember that there is no statute of limitations on these serious crimes.
“Recall that women were buried alive, just because they were Congolese. Believers were burned in churches, sick people were murdered in their hospital beds, whole village populations were massacred, women and men raped. These crimes and crimes against humanity cannot be forgotten or go unpunished.
“For 20 years, the government of our country, the African Union and the international community have been turning a blind eye to these crimes.
“The list of alleged perpetrators has even been redacted from the ‘Mapping Report’ under pressure and at the request of certain states involved in the wars that continue to plague our country.
“Like yesterday, today and tomorrow, I will defend the Democratic Republic of the Congo within its borders acquired in 1885. I will remain committed to national unity, development, justice and peace. May our nation live.”
“Dear compatriots, as long as impunity continues, criminals will continue to destabilize the Democratic Republic of Congo. I call our people to vigilance and patriotism. Let us all energetically condemn this project of secession and balkanization of our country.
“Let us not be naïve – those who have killed and humiliated us for 25 years will never work for our benefit.
“I call on the national and provincial governments to urgently carry out investigations to identify these enemies of our nation. I call on the leaders of our province, the forces of civil society, and the patriotic media to express their indignation and their rejection of this plot. I call on them to sensitize our population so that it preserves the integrity of our national territory as recaptured on June 30, 1960, and that they continue to defend the Constitution and the sovereignty of our country.
“I call on friendly states of DR Congo, the African Union, and the international community as a whole to condemn this movement, the ulterior motive of which is to further destabilize the Kivu region bruised by repeated wars.
“I call on Congolese justice and international justice to finally establish the International Criminal Tribunal for the Congo and/or mixed specialized chambers to prosecute and convict the perpetrators of crimes committed in the Congo from 30 years ago to now.
“Like yesterday, today and tomorrow, I will defend the Democratic Republic of the Congo within its borders acquired in 1885. I will remain committed to national unity, development, justice and peace. May our nation live.
Dr. Mukwege refers to the 2010 report “DRC: Mapping human rights violations 1993-2003,” commonly known as the UN Mapping Report, whose researchers and authors concluded that the Rwandan army committed crimes in DRC that contained the elements defining genocide and would be charged as such in a court of law.
Powerful figures, including Bill Clinton, Bill Gates and Barack Obama have honored Dr. Mukwege for his work as “the man who heals women,” but they have not supported his demand for an international criminal tribunal to indict those implicated in the UN Mapping Report. Gates and Clinton are both longstanding allies of Rwandan President Paul Kagame. In other words, the West lavishes praise on Dr. Mukwege for healing victims of weaponized sexual violence but protects the perpetrators.
Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. Please support her work on Patreon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.