The government vowed Saturday to protect Nobel peace laureate Denis Mukwege and investigate death threats against him after he called for an international court to try crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
DR Congo’s president Felix Tshisekedi pledged that the interior, security and justice ministers and others would “take all measures necessary to ensure Dr Mukwege’s security” and “open investigations”, the cabinet said in a report, without giving detail.
Mukwege, a Congolese gynaecologist who shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for his work against sexual violence in war, and his relatives have been the target of “intimidation, hateful messages and death threats,” it said.
This has occurred while he has “pleaded for peace in the country’s east, by proposing the establishment of an international criminal court for the DRC in order to try the serious crimes committed there against the civilian population,” it said.
On July 26, in a message on his Twitter account, Mukwege wrote “these are the same ones who are still killing in the DRC”, referring to a massacre in the east.
Civilians in Kipupu, a village in South Kivu on the Fizi heights overlooking Lake Tanganyika, came under attack on July 16, with the death toll ranging widely between 18 and 220.
“The macabre stories from Kipupu are in a straight line from the massacres that have hit the DRC since 1996,” the peace prize winner said in a tweet.
The area has seen violence between the Banyamulenge community — the descendants of ethnic Tutsi migrants who came from Rwanda — and other local communities such as the Babembe for the past year.
In early 1996, the first Congo war erupted, led by a rebellion backed by regular troops from several neighbouring countries, particularly Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi.
The second Congo war that took place from 1998 until 2003 involved a dozen armies from the region, 30 armed groups and two main rebellions: one in the east supported by Rwanda and another in the north backed by Uganda.
Doctor Mukwege, director of the Panzi hospital that cares for women raped in South Kivu, managed to survive an attack by assailants targeting his home in October 2012. AFP