Protest Raises Awareness About Violence in the DRC
Demonstrators gathered at the traffic circle at Emory Village in front of the main entrance to the University on Wednesday afternoon in order to raise awareness about the use of rape as a war tactic in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The event was the second in a series of demonstrations called the Atlanta Action for a Rape Free Congo, which Emory School of Medicine Associate Professor Neil Shulman organized in an attempt to engage the Emory community.
The demonstrators attracted the attention of drivers on North Decatur Road by holding signs calling for the U.S. government and United Nations to intervene in the Congo. Some of the signs listed statistics of the violence in the Congo, while other expressed demands such as “I want a better world” or “UN/US GOVT protect [women] and children in Congo.”
The goal of the protests is to attract media attention in the hopes of putting pressure on the U.S. and the United Nations to help stop the destruction in the Congo, according to Felix Tshimanga, a doctor at the Emory University Hospital who is from the Congo and was present at the demonstration. Although Wednesday’s protest was fairly local, the next Atlanta Action for a Rape Free Congo demonstration will be in downtown Atlanta in front of the CNN building.
Since neighboring countries invaded the DRC in 2000 in order to mine gold and other minerals used in modern technology, 8 million people have been killed, and 48 women are raped every hour in this war for resources, according to Tshimanga.
Despite this great injustice, international powers have taken little action to put an end to the violence, Tshimanga said.
Neil Shulman, who is the organizer of the demonstrations, said that he thought the event was very successful due to the diverse group of people in attendance, including students, faculty, University retirees as well as other concerned members of the Emory community.
Shulman also said he thought that targeting the traffic circle in front of the University entrance was effective because of the large number of cars that drove by the demonstration.
Shulman decided to organize the demonstrations after talking to two women from the Congo who work at the DUC. The women fear for their families who still live in the Congo, and they asked Shulman if there was anything anyone could do to help them.
After working at Emory for 45 years, Shulman said he is confident that the University can help be a leader in the world’s effort to end this tragedy.
“Nobody is for it,” he said. “But it’s a matter of getting people who are against it to be outspoken.”
Emory has recently been supportive of intervention in the Congo, joining the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative earlier this year. Emory’s new Conflict Materials Policy supports the purchase of electronics that are made without the minerals that are causing such turmoil in the Congo, according to a July 5 University press release.
— Elizabeth Howell