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31 March 2009

Congolese human rights activist receives the Bremen Solidarity Prize

On March 16, 2009, Immaculée Birhaheka, founder of the Congolese women’s rights organization PAIF (Promotion et Appui aux Initiatives Féminines), was awarded the 11th Bremen Solidarity Prize. As the Senate of Bremen explained: With this award, “we are honoring one of the leading human rights defenders of the Democratic Republic of Congo, for her tireless efforts on behalf of women’s rights.“

As one of the few activists in the Congo, for years Immaculée Birhaheka has shown and continues to show the courage to confront the Congolese government and people with subjects such as (wartime) rape. Over the past years, she has repeatedly and openly protested against the severe human rights violations against women in her country. Because of her involvement, the human rights champion receives constant threats from both government authorities and various militias.                         

Since 2004, medica mondiale has been following and supporting Immaculée Birhaheka's tireless efforts in the face of the overwhelmingly difficult and dangerous reality of working and living in the never-ending climate of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. With the support of medica mondiale, PAIF built a center for women rape victims in Goma. At his center, the severely traumatized women, most of whom who have also been ostracized by their families, find shelter and receive direct help in the form of medical support and psychosocial counseling. The center also provides start-up aid so that the women can build new livelihoods for themselves with a small marketing business, seeds, or goats.

medica mondiale specifically nominated Immaculée Birhaheka for the prize, in recognition of her courageous commitment and the important work of PAIF. The prize comes with a 5000 Euro endowment and is awarded by the Senate of Bremen every other year to persons, groups, and initiatives who resist colonialism and racism, who defend freedom and self-determination, and who are committed to ending oppression, violence, and social ostracism. The entire medica mondiale team heartily congratulates the awardee!