One of my heroes is Dr. Denis Mukwege, a Congolese doctor who repairs fistulas and is a ferocious advocate for women and for his country. I’ve suggested that he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize—and I was horrified to learn that tonight four armed gunmen attacked him at his home, murdered his guard and shot at him. He seems to have narrowly escaped death.Dr. Mukwege presumably was targeted because of a strong speech he gave at the United Nations last month, denouncing mass rape in Congo and the impunity for it. President Kabila has long been angry at Dr. Mukwege, and the UN speech can’t have helped. Meanwhile, Dr. Mukwege has also offended Rwanda with his denunciations of Rwanda’s role in the slaughter and rape in eastern Congo.
Although he is a skilled surgeon who could easily have left for other countries, Dr. Mukwege has toiled in Congo at the hospital he started in Bukavu, Panzi Hospital. Here’s an article I wrote about his work repairing fistulas there. But Dr. Mukwege doesn’t just repair individuals: He concluded that “there is no medical solution,” and so he has become an advocate for peace and for his country.
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. Here’s a statement by Physicians for Human Rights, which works with Dr. Mukwege at Panzi Hospital. And I hope that Dr. Mukwege some day will get the Nobel Peace Prize for the humanitarian work he continuously risks his life to advance.