On the occasion of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize, a ceremony held every year in Oslo, unlike the other Nobel Prizes, that are presented in Stockholm, Dr. Denis Mukwege of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Iraqi activist Nadia Murad withdrew this coveted honor.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is experiencing very difficult times, and Nobel Prize winner Denis Mukwege, founder of the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, where he cares for and operates the women victims of sexual violence, made a very strong and reflective speech.
Below is the most significant part:
"My name is Denis Mukwege, I come from one of the richest countries on the planet, yet the people of my country are among the poorest in the world.
The reality is that just the abundance of our natural resources, gold, coltan, cobalt and other strategic minerals, is the cause that lies at the base of the war that scourges the country, extreme violence and extreme poverty.
We love beautiful cars, jewels and gadgets. I have a smartphone too. These articles contain minerals that come from our country. Often extracted in inhumane conditions by children, victims of intimidation and sexual violence.
When you drive your electric car; when you use your smartphone or admire your jewelry, take a minute to reflect on the human cost of producing these items.
As consumers, at least we insist that these products are manufactured with respect for human dignity.
Turning the back on this tragedy is abetment.
It is not only those responsible for violence who are responsible for their crimes, but also those who choose to look the other way.
My country is systematically plundered with the complicity of the people who claim to be our leaders. Plundered for their power, their wealth and their glory. Plundered at the expense of millions of innocent men, women and children abandoned in extreme poverty. While the profits of our minerals end up in the pockets of a predatory oligarchy.
For twenty years, day after day, at the hospital in Panzi, I saw the harrowing consequences of poor management of the country.
Babies, girls, young women, mothers, grandmothers and even men and boys, cruelly raped, often publicly and collectively, inserting plastic or sharp objects into their genitals.
I will spare you the details.
The Congolese people have been humiliated, mistreated and massacred for more than two decades, in full view of the International community.
Today, with access to the most powerful communication technology ever, no one can say, 'I did not know'.
Dear Congolese compatriots, we must have the courage to take our destiny into our hands. Let’s build peace, build the future of our country and together let’s build a better future for Africa. No one else will do it for us. "
We hope it will be the beginning of an epoch-making change for the Democratic Republic of Congo but also for all the other African states, that are daily "plundered" of their natural resources; but this cannot happen without the awareness of all of us.