Kinshasa, DR Congo (PANA) - The International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict has called on the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to protect Dr. Denis Mukwege after a violent attack and assassination attempt at his home in Bukavu.
Dr. Mukwege is a world-renowned surgeon and director of Panzi Hospital in Eastern Congo’s South Kivu province, which has treated over 30,000 survivors of sexual violence.
He is a founding member of the Advisory Committee of the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflicts.
In a press statement here, Campaign member Physicians for Human Rights reported that four armed men Saturday gained access into Dr. Mukwege’s home in his absence and held several family members at gunpoint.
Upon his arrival, they forced him out of his car, shot and killed a security guard who tried to intervene and Dr. Mukwege ducked when the armed men fired shots at him, before driving off in his car, which was found abandoned soon after, the statement explained.
Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee said, “Dr. Mukwege embodies the strength of Congolese women who never relent in the face of such senseless violence. I join the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict, and others, in calling for the Democratic Republic of Congo to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice.”
The Campaign sends its condolences to the family of Joseph Bizmana, the guard killed in the attack, saying "We fear for the safety and well being of Dr. Denis Mukwege and his family. Moreover, we are alarmed that the attempt on his life has a possible link to activities that Dr. Mukwege undertook in support of advocacy for the Campaign in September at the United Nations, spotlighting the increasing rape and gender violence in Eastern Congo.
At that event which was co-hosted by the Campaign and attended by government and UN officials as well as Nobel Peace Laureates Gbowee and Jody Williams, Dr. Mukwege stated, “This year I am once again operating on women whose genitals were destroyed by rape and other atrocities. There are many women who are barely getting by, and rape is continuing. The rainy season is coming soon in North Kivu and the vulnerability of women is increasing.”
He ended by calling for “urgent action to arrest those responsible for these crimes against humanity and to bring them to justice.”
Nobel Peace Laureate Williams noted, “Instead of heeding his call, the response was a violent act of cowardice by those who fear his truths.”
The Advisory Committee of the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict was launched earlier this year to coordinate action to highlight the widespread rates of gender violence around the world.
Susannah Sirkin, Deputy Director at Physicians for Human Rights, said, “Thousands of Congolese women and girls put at risk following incidents of sexual violence have depended on Dr. Mukwege for their lives and well-being.”
“The attempted assassination of Dr. Mukwege and the murdering of his security guard once again highlights how deadly serious the situation is in Eastern Congo. One of the great men of the world was almost murdered tonight. We cannot let this continue,” stated V-Day Founder/playwright and Campaign member Eve Ensler.
The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict calls on the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to take immediate steps to protect Dr. Mukwege and his family, and on the international community to speak out in solidarity of our extraordinary ally.
-0- PANA PR/VAO 27Oct2012