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“Peace cannot be achieved at the expense of justice,” says Dr. Denis Mukwege in response to Beni massacres

(Bukavu, DRC) Since early May, more than 50 people have been brutally massacred in Beni, in North Kivu Province, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Since October 2014, the death toll in Beni has risen to more than 600. Photographs of these atrocities of masses are unbearable: pregnant women disemboweled, mutilated infants, human beings trussed up and their throats slit with a knife.

From the bottom of my heart, I extend my heartfelt and deepest condolences to all the families affected by this despicable barbarity, and also to all my countrymen and to all friends of the Congo who know victims of the atrocities committed in Beni, Lubero, Rutshuru, and elsewhere.

Our hearts are profoundly affected by the injuries related to the armed conflicts in the region; the crimes and barbaric atrocities occurring in the Eastern DRC for 20 years appear to be resurgent. The population feels abandoned and left to fend for themselves.

The blood of our Congolese sisters and brothers must stop flowing into the streets. Nothing can justify such cruelties, these are men and women and children, and their deaths are not simple news items. Their lives matter.

More than 2000 kilometers from Beni, our leaders are creating a political empasse, through a false battle around the interpretation of our constitution. The apparent objective is the perpetuation of chaos in order to preserve the privileges of certain people close to those in power. Meanwhile in Beni, evil continues striking our villages leaving behind terror, chaos, blood, and houses aflame.

The Congolese are frustrated, hurt and humiliated. They are demanding more accountability and efficiency on the part of those who govern them. They are mobilizing to achieve the long-awaited, and promised, change.

Delaying tactics and an apparent intent to thwart elections occurring within the timeframe set forth in the constitution, creating a ‘glissement’ or ‘slippage.’ This is extremely dangerous and a violation of the 2277 resolution of the UN Security Council and the principles of the 2007 African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. This glissement would only prolong the suffering of the Congolese people, to better secure and continue to exploit its resources without accountability.

The definitive solution to the problems plaguing the DRC requires holistic consideration of evil, and the awakening of the patriotic consciousness of the Congolese people. Then the overhaul of the State must establish and enforce laws that embrace human rights and governance oriented to the satisfaction, and in the best interest of all the people. In short, a radical change must occur. The Congolese people must be at the forefront of national sovereignty.

I appeal once again to the international community to implement its responsibility to protect civilians in the heart of the Great Lakes region, where truth and justice have been sacrificed on the altar of peace. We have waited too long, because until now we have neither peace nor justice.

As the massacres in eastern Congo illustrate, peace cannot be achieved at the expense of justice. I am reminded of the words Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in 1963, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.” Peace can only be achieved where civil and human rights, in concert with economic development and education, and justice, are recognized by our government and the international community.

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