Shots fired at Congolese Nobel nominee
Armed men have attempted to assassinate Congolese gynaecologist Dr Denis Mukwege at his home.
Mukwege was a Nobel Peace Prize nominee in 2009 for his work treating victims of sexual assault.
He narrowly escaped the gunshots, but one of his security guards was tragically killed.
Mukwege told the Guardian he was saddened by the loss of his employee: “The man worked with me a long time – it’s a terrible loss for me and all my family.”
As no robbery occurred, police suspect that the motivation of the crime was Mr Mukwege’s campaign against mass rape.
“It upsets them when we denounce their crimes,” Mukwege told BBC Afrique after the attack.
And that is exactly what Dr Mukwege had been doing.
Last month, Mukwege gave a speech to the United Nations in which he criticised the international community for allowing “16 years of the destruction of women.”
He insisted on “urgent action” to find those responsible and ”bring them to justice.”
He also called for “unanimous condemnation of the rebel groups.”
He ended his speech by saying “I have the honour to say that the courage of women victims of sexual violence in the Eastern Congo will in the end overcome this evil. Help them restore peace!”
It is clear from interviews that Dr Mukwege was aware his life could be in danger.
In 2010, he told The Guardian that he had become aware of rumours suggesting his home would be attacked.
Upon hearing that their doctor was at risk, his patients – three disabled girls – arrived to protect him.
He told The Guardian, “This is what I feel all the time from those who come to the hospital – the desire to keep loving, to keep giving, even when someone has tried to strip you of all your dignity and values. You cannot abandon people like that.”
In the Democratic Republic of Congo mass rape is a tool of warfare for rebel groups .
In 2010, UN special representative on sexual violence in conflict Margot Wallstrom branded the Congo the “rape capital of the world“. And Doctor Mukwege himself said that all sides in the Congo had “declared women their common enemy”.
The gynaecologist’s team has performed surgery on over 20,000 female rape victims.
Among the doctor’s other achievements is a safe house where patients receive training in new skills.
Unsatisfied with medicine alone as a cure for Congo’s ills, Mukwege became an activist.
New York Times journalist Nicholas D Kristof described Mukwege as his hero, and added: “I hope the UN force in Bukavu will protect Dr Mukwege and the Panzi Hospital for the time being. I hope foreign ambassadors will visit his hospital to show solidarity.”
Eve Ensler, founder of the V-Day movement, who also works in the Congo, described Dr Mukwege as “one of the great men of the world.”
She pleaded,”Let Dr Mukwege be the great doctor he is in the country he adores, with the women he cherishes, in the forests he loves. The forests that used to be free and safe.”
Congolese police have yet to identify the four assailants.