26 October 2012

Congo-Kinshasa: Govt Must Investigate Assassination Attempt On Activist Dr Denis Mukwege

Photo: Cindy Shiner/AllAfrica
Doctors at a clinic in Kinshasa (file photo).

press release

The Congolese authorities must immediately open an investigation into the attempted assassination of Denis Mukwege, a doctor and activist, and ensure those responsible are held to account, Amnesty International said.

Dr Mukwege was attacked shortly after returning to his home in Bukavu, South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on 25 October 2012, where he found armed men threatening his children with guns.

He narrowly escaped being shot by diving on the ground, as gunmen opened fire on him.

One of Dr Mukwege's security guards was killed in the attack as he tried to protect him.

"This atrocious attack is one of a number of recent attacks by unknown armed men targeting humanitarian workers and human rights defenders in North and South Kivu," said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International's Deputy Africa Director.

"The Congolese authorities must immediately open an investigation and ensure that those responsible are held to account.

"Killings, abductions and attacks on humanitarian staff impede delivery of basic services, as civilians bear the brunt of escalating conflict in eastern DRC.

"Along with the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO), the Congolese authorities must also ensure they increase the level of protection for civilians and aid workers in these regions."

Dr Mukwege, who is the founder and medical director of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, has received many awards, including the UN Human Rights Prize, for his work with survivors of sexual violence in South Kivu.

He has been a long advocate for the rights of women in DRC and has recently addressed the UN General Assembly in New York, USA, on the subject.

Although it is unclear if the assassination attempt was directly linked to his activities, Dr Mukwege has been threatened several times by armed groups for his denunciation of rape and other forms of sexual violence committed by them.

Humanitarian workers are attacked or threatened on almost a weekly basis in North and South Kivu provinces of the DRC.

In the past two weeks alone, humanitarian organisations have denounced two cases of abduction and death threats by unknown armed men against staff of non-governmental organisations in the Kalehe Territory, South Kivu Province.

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