Ottawa — The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict urgently calls on the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to protect Doctor 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. The clinic has treated over 30,000 survivors of sexual violence.
Campaign member Physicians for Human Rights, reported that earlier today four armed men entered Dr. Mukwege's home in his absence and held several family members at gunpoint. Upon his arrival, they forced him out of his car, shooting and killing a security guard who tried to intervene. Dr. Mukwege ducked when the armed men fired shots towards him, before driving off in his car, which was found abandoned soon after.
The Campaign sends its condolences to the family of the guard killed in the attack. 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 an event co-hosted by the Campaign and attended by government and UN officials, 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."
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.
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." Physicians for Human Rights has recently conducted a training workshop at Panzi Hospital, where it has an office.
Sirkin stated, "Dr. Mukwege has served the Congolese people with passion, expertise, and extraordinary dedication. Dr. Mukwege's safety must be of the utmost priority to the Congolese government."
"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," 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.
Update: The name of the murdered guard is Joseph Bizimana. He leaves behind a wife and young children. Our thoughts are with his family at this time of loss.