Eileen White Read, 202-741-6376
PRESS RELEASE: RAISE Hope for Congo Delivers Petition, Asks Obama for Immediate Action on Congo
WASHINGTON, DC, January 21, 2009 — The Enough Project’s RAISE Hope for Congo Campaign today announced that it will deliver to President Barack Obama on his first day in office, January 21, a petition containing 39,900 signatures asking for immediate action to halt widespread sexual violence against women and girls in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is the largest ever call to action to the United States on Congo and underscores the growing strength of the Congo activist movement.
The petition asks the new U.S. president to “announce your administration’s initial plan to end the scourge of violence against women and girls in eastern Congo on International Women’s Day on March 8, 2009, and then report back on your progress toward this goal one year later.”
“This petition sends a clear message to President Obama and his new administration that ending the horrific crimes against humanity in eastern Congo must be a priority during his first year in office. We cannot continue to stand by while hundreds of thousands of Congolese women and girls are being brutalized. The violence has to end, and the United States has to lead. ” said Candice Knezevic, manager of the RAISE Hope for Congo Campaign at the Enough Project, the anti-genocide project at the Center for American Progress.
“Tens of thousands of Americans have spoken loudly and clearly,” said John Norris, Executive Director of the Enough Project. “The conflict in Congo is not intractable. Smart diplomacy from Washington can make a real difference.”
Enough’s partner organizations in the petition drive include Oxfam America, Amnesty International, Bureau pour le Volontariat au Service de l’Enfance et de la Santé (BVES), Campus Progress at the Center for American Progress, Congo Global Action, CONGO/Women, Genocide Intervention Network, HEAL Africa, Human Rights Watch, Family Violence Prevention Fund, PAIF (Promotion et appui aux initiatives feminines), STAND, Synergie des Femmes pour les Victimes de Violences Sexuelles, The United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society, V-Day, and Women Thrive Worldwide.
Since 1996, eastern Congo has been the epicenter of the deadliest war since World War II, and it remains a place where combatants on all sides routinely use rape and sexual violence as a weapon to destroy women, families, and communities. RAISE Hope for Congo’s petition seeks a comprehensive policy that promotes peace, protects people and punishes perpetrators. Specifically, it asks for the U.S. government to “lead aggressive diplomatic efforts to forge an inclusive peace deal between the Congolese government and rebel groups, remove Rwandan rebels from eastern Congo, and end the illegal exploitation of Congolese natural resources — a major driver of the conflict and violence; ensure that UN peacekeepers aggressively patrol areas where women are most vulnerable, increase support for UN and charitable programs responding to sexual violence, and urge Congress to pass the International Violence Against Women Act; and call for the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into rape as a war crime in eastern Congo.
Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on crises in Sudan, Chad, eastern Congo, northern Uganda, Somalia, and Zimbabwe. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a “3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. To learn more about Enough and what you can do to help, visit www.enoughproject.org.
The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is "of the people, by the people, and for the people."
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