The International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict calls on the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to take all necessary steps to protect Dr. Denis Mukwege and his family as they return to Bukavu this upcoming Monday.
Dr. Mukwege is a world-renowned surgeon and director of Panzi Hospital in Eastern Congo’s South Kivu Province. He survived a violent attack and assassination attempt at his home on October 28, 2012 in which several family members where held at gunpoint and his trusted friend and guard, Joseph Bizimana, was killed. Due to fears for his safety, Dr. Mukwege and his family were evacuated from Eastern Congo in the days after the attack.
The Campaign is calling for local, provincial, and national authorities—as well as UN peacekeeping forces in the area—to provide guarantees for the Doctor, his family, and colleagues at the clinic.
“Thousands of women and girls whose lives and bodies have been torn apart by the ongoing sexual violence in the region depend on Dr. Mukwege for their well-being,” said Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams, Co-Chair of the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict. “The Congolese authorities must do everything in their power to ensure that Dr. Mukwege and his colleagues are able to continue to continue this critically important work in safe and secure conditions.”
Panzi Hospital has treated over 30,00 survivors of sexual violence and Dr. Mukwege is one of his country’s strongest advocates in support of the women of Congo who suffer high rates of gender violence. While a motive for the attack has not been established, the Campaign is concerned that activities the Doctor undertook at the United Nations in September in support of the Campaign, spotlighting the increasing rape in Eastern Congo, may have put him at heightened risk. Dr. Mukwege is a founding member of the Advisory Committee of the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict, which launched earlier this year to coordinate action to highlight the widespread rates of gender violence around the world.
At the time of the attack, V-Day Founder/playwright and Campaign member, Eve Ensler said, “The attempted assassination on 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.”
Immediately after the attack, the Campaign mobilized in support of Dr. Mukwege, drawing attention to the worsening situation women and activists face in Eastern Congo. The region has been plagued by ongoing war, with civilians—often women and girls—deliberately targeted. The attack on Dr. Mukwege demonstrates the continuing violence and instability local communities faced.
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, his family, and his colleagues upon his return and ensure he is able to carry out his work in a safe environment. We hope that the government will ensure the safety of all victims of violence in the region, especially the women and girls Dr. Mukwege has dedicated his life to helping.
Campaign Calls on DRC to Protect Dr. Denis Mukwege After Violent Attack, 26 October 2012.
Address Increased Insecurity in Eastern Congo: The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict Calls on the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to Take Action, 31 October 2012.
The congolese government must ensure the safety of Dr Denis Mukwege, Panzi Hospital, 12 January 2013.