Chères Amies, chers Amis,

 

Vous trouverez en attaché le compte rendu de notre assemblée générale du 26 avril. Que celles et ceux qui sont venus ou bien qui ont envoyé un message de soutien soient encore une fois vivementremerciés.

 

Sud Kivu RdC : ci-après vous verrez un bref communiqué qui vient étayer ce que Vivere ne cesse de clamer depuis six ans, à savoir en résumé :

–          L’interminable état de guerre sévissant sur cette région depuis 1996 a généré une situation où la force brute s’exerce sans foi ni loi sur des millions d’innocents. La moindre convoitise pousse maintenant au crime de sang.

–          L’abus de la force brute est contagieux et finit par s’instaurer comme ‘normalité’ dans l’impunité ambiante. Il faut la combattre avec les moyens de droit.

–          La présence d’un fort et coûteux contingent de casques bleus, souvent inopérant pour protéger la population civile, est un fiasco tant politique que militaire. Cependant, le risque que son mandat ne soit pas renouvelé ne ferait qu’aggraver la catastrophe. Il nous revient de faire pression sur nos élus afin qu’ils agissent plus fermement dans les instances de l’ONU, où nous les payons pour défendre la protection des peuples !

–          Les filles et les femmes, victimisées à tellement de titres, paient un terrible tribut dans ce chaos. L’article que nous copions ci-dessous témoigne de ce qui est devenu un ‘fémicide’.

 

Depuis six ans notre mouvement fait son maximum, avec ses partenaires Congolais, pour inverser cette fatalité dévastatrice : aide directe et immédiate à des victimes féminines d’atrocités, lutte contre l’impunité en traînant des méchants devant de vrais tribunaux, soins aux femmes et aux hommes ayant survécu à la torture, sauvegarde des vieillards vulnérables abandonnés dans une société éclatée par la violence.

 

Nous vous remercions de votre fidèle intérêt à ce travail.

 

Le comité de Vivere

 

————————————————————

http://www.bbcfrench.com

15 Avril, 2010 – Heure de publication 07:16 GMT

RDC : le viol est devenu une arme de guerre

Les résultats de l’enquête menée par Oxfam dans la province du Sud Kivu ont de quoi choquer: près de 60% des victimes de viols ont été agressées par des hommes armés et plus de la moitié des attaques ont eu lieu au domicile des victimes.

Par ailleurs si en 2004, seul 1% des violences sexuelles étaient commises par des civils, quatre ans plus tard, c’est près d’un tiers des viols qui leur étaient attribues.

Une augmentation qui prouve selon les enquêteurs que le viol s’est banalisé pendant les années de guerre au Congo.

Alors que les Nations Unies discutent actuellement du calendrier de retrait des quelques 22.000 casques bleus de RDC, Oxfam avertit dans son rapport que compte tenu du niveau d’insécurité, il est impératif que les soldats de la paix restent dans le pays.

L’ONU a régulièrement soutenu les efforts visant à neutraliser les rebelles liés au génocide du Rwanda de 1994, mais lors de ces offensives, selon Oxfam, les femmes sont encore plus vulnérables.

Car rebelles et soldats gouvernementaux utilisent le viol comme une véritable arme de guerre, laissant leurs victimes à la fois traumatisées et stigmatisées.

Plus de la moitié des femmes interrogées par l’ONG ont attendu plus d’un an avant de se faire aider -une démarche d’autant plus difficile qu’un seul hôpital dans la province offre un soutien aux victimes de viols.

Pour Oxfam, il est donc essentiel que les pays riches aident la RDC à accroitre son offre médicale pour traiter les conséquences ravageuses des violences sexuelles.

Le besoin est là : selon l’ONU, plus de 5000 personnes ont été violées au Sud Kivu l’année dernière.

———————————————

Published: October 17, 2008

Jeffrey Gettleman/The New York Times

 

“It’s safer today than it was,” said Euphrasie Mirindi, a

Congolese woman who was raped in 2006. “But it’s still not safe.”

 

“There was no dinner,” she said.

 

“It was me who was dinner. Me, because they kicked me roughly to the

ground, and they ripped off all my clothes, and between the two of them,

they held my feet. One took my left foot, one took my right, and the

same with my arms, and between the two of them they proceeded to rape

me. Then all five of them raped me.”

 

The audience, which had been called together by local and international

aid groups and included everyone from high-ranking politicians to street

kids with no shoes, stared at her in disbelief.

 

Congo, it seems, is finally facing its horrific rape problem, which

United Nations officials have called the worst sexual violence in the

world. Tens of thousands of women, possibly hundreds of thousands, have

been raped in the past few years in this hilly, incongruously beautiful

land. Many of these rapes have been marked by a level of brutality that

is shocking even by the twisted standards of a place riven by civil war

and haunted by warlords and drug-crazed child soldiers.

 

After years of denial and shame, the silence is being broken. Because

of stepped-up efforts in the past nine months by international

organizations and the Congolese government, rapists are no longer able

to count on a culture of impunity. Of course, countless men still get

away with assaulting women. But more and more are getting caught,

prosecuted and put behind bars.

 

European aid agencies are spending tens of millions of dollars building

new courthouses and prisons across eastern Congo, in part to punish

rapists. Mobile courts are holding rape trials in villages deep in the

forest that have not seen a black-robed magistrate since the Belgians

ruled the country decades ago.

 

The American Bar Association opened a legal clinic in January

specifically to help rape victims bring their cases to court. So far the

work has resulted in eight convictions. Here in Bukavu, one of the

biggest cities in the country, a special unit of Congolese police

officers has filed 103 rape cases since the beginning of this year, more

than any year in recent memory.

 

In Bunia, a town farther north, rape prosecutions are up 600 percent

compared with five years ago. Congolese investigators have even been

flown to Europe to learn “CSI”-style forensic techniques. The police

have arrested some of the most violent offenders, often young

militiamen, most likely psychologically traumatized themselves, who have

thrust sticks, rocks, knives and assault rifles inside women.

 

“We’re starting to see results,” said Pernille Ironside, a United

Nations official in eastern Congo.

 

The number of those arrested is still tiny compared with that of the

perpetrators on the loose, and often the worst offenders are not caught

because they are marauding bandits who attack villages in the night,

victimize women and then melt back into the forest.

 

This is all happening in a society where women tend to be beaten down

anyway. Women in Congo do most of the work —at home, in the fields and

in the market, where they carry enormous loads of bananas on their bent

backs — and yet they are often powerless. Many women who are raped are

told to keep quiet. Often, it is a shame for the entire family, and many

rape victims have been kicked out of their villages and turned into

beggars.

 

Grass-roots groups are trying to change this culture, and they have

started by encouraging women who have been raped to speak out in open

forums, like a courtroom full of spectators, just with no accused.

 

At the event in Bukavu in mid-September, Ms. Kizende’s story of being

abducted by an armed group, then putting her life back together after

months as a sex slave, drew tears — and cheers. It seems that the

taboo against talking about rape is beginning to lift. Many women in the

audience wore T-shirts that read in Kiswahili: “I refuse to be raped.

What about you?”

 

Activists are fanning out to villages on foot and by bicycle to deliver

a simple but often novel message: rape is wrong. Men’s groups are even

being formed.

 

But these improvements are simply the first, tentative steps of

progress in a very troubled country.

 

United Nations officials said the number of rapes had appeared to be

decreasing over the past year. But the recent surge of fighting between

the Congolese government and rebel groups, and all the violence and

predation that goes with it, is jeopardizing those gains.

 

Poverty, chaos, disease and war. These are the constants of eastern

Congo. Many people believe that the rape problem will not be solved

until the area tastes peace. But that might not be anytime soon.

 

Laurent Nkunda, a well-armed Tutsi warlord, or a savior of his people,

depending on whom you ask, recently threatened to wage war across the

country. Clashes between his troops, many of them child soldiers, and

government forces have driven hundreds of thousands of people from their

homes in the past few months. His forces, along with those from the

dozens of other rebel groups hiding out in the hills, are thought to be

mainly responsible for the epidemic of brutal rapes.

 

United Nations officials say the most sadistic rapes are committed by

depraved killers who participated in Rwanda’s genocide in 1994 and

then escaped into Congo. These attacks have left thousands of women with

their insides destroyed. But the Congolese National Army, a ragtag

undisciplined force of teenage troops who sport wrap-around shades and

rusty rifles, has also been blamed. The government has been slow to

punish its own, but Congolese generals recently announced they would set

up new military tribunals to prosecute soldiers accused of rape.

 

No one — doctors, aid workers, Congolese and Western researchers —

can explain exactly why Congo’s rape problem is the worst in the

world. The attacks continue despite the presence of the largest United

Nations peacekeeping force, with more than 17,000 troops. Impunity is

thought to be a big factor, which is why there is now so much effort on

bolstering Congo’s creaky and often corrupt justice system. The sheer

number of armed groups spread over thousands of miles of thickly

forested territory, fighting over Congo’s rich mineral spoils, also

makes it incredibly difficult to protect civilians. The ceaseless

instability has held the whole eastern swath of the country hostage.

 

In Bukavu, everywhere you look, something is broken: a railing, a

window, a pickup cruising around with no fenders, a woman trudging along

the road with no eyes.

 

The Congolese government admits it is at a loss, especially in keeping

women safe.

 

“Every day, women are raped,” said Louis Leonce Muderhwa, the

governor of South Kivu Province. “This isn’t peace.”

 

Activists from overseas have been pouring in. Few are more passionate

than Eve Ensler, the American playwright who wrote “The Vagina

Monologues,” which has been performed in more than 100 countries. She

came to Congo last month to work with rape victims.

 

 

“I have spent the past 10 years of my life in the rape mines of the

world,” she said. “But I have never seen anything like this.”

 

She calls it “femicide,” a systematic campaign to destroy women.

 

Ms. Ensler is helping open a center in Bukavu called the City of Joy,

which will provide counseling to rape victims and teach leadership

skills and self-defense. Her hope is to build an army of rape survivors

who will push with an urgency — that has so far been absent — for a

solution to end Congo’s ceaseless wars.

 

The City of Joy is rising behind Panzi Hospital, where the worst of the

worst rape cases are treated. But even this refuge has come under

attack. Last month, an irate mob stormed the hospital. The mob demanded

that the doctors give them the body of a thief, so it could be burned.

When the doctors refused, several angry young men beat up nurses and

smashed windows. But it was not clear if the body was the only thing

that had set them off.

 

“They don’t like our work,” said Denis Mukwege, a Congolese

gynecologist. “Maybe what we’re doing is disturbing people.”

 

The stories of these rapes are clearly disturbing. But that is the

point, to shake people up and grab their attention.

 

“The details are the scariest part,” Ms. Ensler said.

 

At the event last month, many people in the audience covered their

mouths as they listened. Some could not bear it and burst out of the

room crying.

 

One speaker, Claudine Mwabachizi, told how she was kidnapped by bandits

in the forest, strapped to a tree and repeatedly gang-raped. The bandits

did unspeakable things, she said, like disemboweling a pregnant woman

right in front of her. “A lot of us keep these secrets to

ourselves,” she said.

 

She was going public, she said, “to free my sisters.”

 

But Congo, if anything, is a land of contrasts. The soil here is rich,

but the people are starving. The minerals are limitless, but the

government is broke.

 

After the speaking-out event was over, Ms. Mwabachizi said she felt

exhausted.

 

But, she added, “I feel strong.”

 

She was given a pink shawl with a message printed on it.

 

“I have survived,” it read. “I can do anything.”