Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rape Conviction in Congo

Thirty persons converged on IJM Cobra Club to attend the Taman Indrahana Toastmasters meeting yesterday – in spite of a heavy downpour scarcely two hours before the start of the meeting. Of this big group, nineteen were Indrahanians, which tells you of the enthusiastic support members give to their club. I did my final CC speech that evening – and again, it was very much impromptu. I only came up with the speech title (i.e. "The Impossible Dream") barely an hour before the meeting, and even then, I did not manage to flesh out my speech. Still, I soldiered on and managed to win the Best Speaker ribbon. Certainly, I know I could have done better – I always think I can do better – but anyway, I did reasonably well, considering my last-minute, self-inflicted predicament. Oh well… And as always, it was a wonderful meeting. By the way, it was great to see colleague Madeline Tan dropping by to check out what Toastmasters are all about.

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In Baraka, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a military court has sentenced Lt Col Mutware Daniel Kibibi to 20 years in jail. He was found guilty of crimes against humanity for sending his troops to attack the population of Fizi on New Year's Day where doctors later treated 62 women who had been raped. One woman testified that Kibibi had raped her for 40 minutes.

Three of Kibibi's officers received the same sentences. Five others got between 10 and 15 years. One was acquitted and another, a minor, will be tried in juvenile court.

The BBC's Thomas Hubert says it is the first conviction of a commanding officer for rape in eastern DR Congo. Humanitarian agencies regularly cite government troops as the largest single group of perpetrators of widespread sexual violence in that country’s Kivu region. The UN recorded some 11,000 rapes in 2010 – the true figure is believed to be much higher. At least, the law caught up with the perpetrators!

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