Dr Denis Mukwege, 2018 Nobel Peace Laureate* and gynecologist from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) visited Hiroshima during his recent stay in Japan as part of his ongoing global campaign for “Peace, Justice and Women’s Rights,” invited by the Association on Sexual Violence and Conflict in Congo (ASVCC) and the University of Tokyo.
During the Nobel Laureate's two-day stay in Hiroshima, he visited the peace memorial park and museum, met with atomic bomb survivor Ms Kasaoka Sadae, and paid a courtesy visit to Mayor Matsui Kazumi. Upon learning of the horrors of nuclear war, Dr Mukwege left his message in the guest book of the museum, that "I experienced total horror in this place. Nuclear weapons simply must be abolished. We must protect our humanity from such horrors."
Dr Mukwege gave a public lecture on October 6, to over 300 local citizens. This date also marks the anniversary of October 6 1996, the date when 30 people tragically lost their lives in an attack on the hospital in Lemera in which Dr Mukwege worked. As Dr Mukwege mentioned in the opening of his Nobel Lecture, "patients were slaughtered in their beds point blank. Unable to flee, the staff were killed in cold blood. I could not have imagined that it was only the beginning."
Both the experience of Hiroshima and the violence in the DRC are great tragedies of humanity, which remind us of the urgent need to work for peace. The lecture was opened by a minute's silence in remembrance of the victims of violence in the DRC, and Dr Mukwege also offered silence in honour of the Hibakusha of Hiroshima.
Through his lecture and encounters with Hibakusha and citizens in Hiroshima, Dr Mukwege conveyed the strong message that consideration for others and universal emphaty is indeed the path towards building real, lasting peace. He also pointed out the fact that the uranium used in the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was from Congo, and warned that the lasting war over mineral resources is making uranium in Congo uncontrollable, potentially promoting nuclear proliferation.
Peace Boat was honored for the privilige to coordinate Dr Mukwege's stay in Hiroshima, together with local partner ANT-Hiroshima (Asian Network of Trust – Hiroshima) and supported by the Niwano Peace Foundation. We pledge to continue to work together in the campaign to raise awareness of the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, and together build a world free from such violence and also from nuclear weapons.