“Conflict in Congo” – speaker event on March 13

Join Amnesty International USA Group 48 and the Congolese Community of Oregon to Raise Awareness for the Conflict in the Congo

February 27, 2009

Portland, OR.    Amnesty International USA Group 48 and the Congolese Community of Oregon (CCO) are to present a panel discussion about the conflict in the Congo on Friday, March 13, 2009 at 7:30 PM at the First Unitarian Church, 1011 SW 12th Avenue, Portland, OR. 

Led by Portland area residents from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the panel will highlight the human rights abuses from the ongoing conflict in the DRC, such as displacements of thousands, violence against women and children, and the role of natural resources in the conflict.

This presentation launches a campaign of the Congolese Community of Oregon and Group 48 to raise awareness of the human suffering in the Congo and to educate Portlanders about how they can help bring peace to the region.

The program, co-sponsored by the First Unitarian Church, is free and open to the public.  For more information, call Amnesty International USA Group 48: 503-227-1878 or the Congolese Community of Oregon: 503-954-1656.

ABOUT THE PANELISTS:

Vincent Chirimwami, a native Congolese, is the secretary and spokesperson for the Congolese Community of Oregon.  A student at Portland State University, Mr. Chirimwami will address the role of natural resources and economics in the conflict.

Jeremy Ruvunangiza, a native Congolese and a student at the College of Legal Arts, will discuss the effect of the conflict on individuals and families.

Masikini Maguy Kavira, a native Congolese, is a health and human rights professional and co-founder of Amani, a Portland-based NGO devoted to the promotion of peace and global citizenship internationally. A former medical doctor in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who recently returned from the region, she will discuss the effect of the conflict on civilians, especially women and children.

WHY:

The human toll of the ten-year conflict in the Congo has been the loss of more than 5 million innocent lives, more than 250,000 women raped with some brutally killed, 1.2 million children dead, and about 2 million people displaced from their homes.

Early in 2009, there was a dramatic turn of events in the conflict in eastern DRC. The DRC government reached agreements with its often-hostile neighbors, Uganda and Rwanda, to conduct joint military operations to pursue mutual enemies on Congolese soil. Hundreds of civilians were killed, and thousands displaced.

The situation in the eastern DRC is very dangerous. Systematic abduction of women and children and attacks on civilians and peacekeepers remain widespread. Such attacks are war crimes and can constitute crimes against humanity. They are punishable under international law.

The decade-long ongoing war in the Congo has been misinterpreted as a civil war, ethnic conflict, or a tribal war. The Portland public needs to recognize that this war is about Congo’s natural resources and minerals.

ABOUT THE ORGANIZERS:

Organized in 1973, Group 48 is a local chapter of Amnesty International USA, an international human rights organization headquartered in London, UK. Its work began with a focus on civil and political violations of the rights of individuals and expanded to generate awareness for human rights abuses in regions of the world. Its current focuses are the death penalty in Oregon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes region in Africa, China, Central America, Indonesia, East Timor, and Darfur. Individual cases include Shi-Tao of China and Guantanamo detainees. 

Congolese Community of Oregon (CCO) is a nonprofit organization of former Congolese natives in the Portland area organized to raise awareness for the suffering of the people of the Congo and to help bring peace and stability to the region.

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