Weapon of War

Sexual violence in humanitarian emergencies, such as armed conflict and natural disasters, is a serious, even life-threatening, public health and human rights issue. Growing concern about the scale of the problem has led to increased efforts to learn more about the contexts in which this particular form of violence occurs, its prevalence, risk factors, its links to HIV infection, and also how best to prevent and respond to it. [see,
World Health Organization (WHO), WHO Ethical and Safety Recommendations for Researching, Documenting and Monitoring Sexual Violence in Emergencies (2007)].

“Silence No More: The untapped potential of the church in addressing sexual violence” (2011). Mr Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of UNAIDS, said: “UNAIDS will of course work the Church… It isn’t just breaking the silence that will help us, though that is essential, we also need societal change – so the Church will be critical for us.”

Medical-Legal Certificate

As a medical organisation, Medecin Sans Frontiere (MSF) has a clear role in issuing medical-legal certificates to victims of sexual violence. The medical-legal certificate can constitute important evidence in court – sometimes the only evidence beyond the victim’s own words. Even in conflict situations, where immediate legal action is impossible due to the collapse of judicial systems, patients still have the right to medical-legal certificates, as they may decide to pursue legal action once the conflict is over.

There are many boys on Show Me Your Life who have very difficult stories to hear. But we must hear them and we will listen. These kids really do want to SHOW US THEIR LIVES. But are we really ready to look at what is going to be — is being — sent to us.

Many people at the World Health Organization (WHO) and other NGOs have heard about Show Me Your Life. The reason for this is because our MO of putting cameras in the hands of kids is different. Kids in schools everywhere create video. Not a new idea. But doing this with children who are directly involved in wars and children living on the streets has never been done the way we are doing it.

This is the child ripping off the veil of his own existence.

Show Me Your Life: République Démocratique du Congo (January-March 2011).

Moise contacted Show Me Your Life from the République Démocratique du Congo, and wanted to know if he could tell his story. He wants to show us his life. “Il pourrait faire une différence. Je ne sais pas.”

Show Me Your Life's first student was Moise. His peer-mentors were from Russia and France. Moise died in the République Démocratique du Congo. He was eleven years old. **Many of Moise's videos were lost when the BlipTV deleted our account.

refuge cage de bande errantes de soldats rebelles by Moise

Sur la rivière. Ces vidéos sont dangereux à faire. Je dois arrêter de les faire pendant quelques jours. (On the River. These videos are dangerous to do. I have to stop them for a few days) by Moise.

March 2011: Moise died from his machete wounds. He might have lived, but his HIV status rendered him at-risk for infection. There were no antibiotics available that might have been able to deal with the infections.

Before he died, Moise disclosed. He had been raped repeatedly his entire life by soldiers; many from Rwanda & Uganda employed to use HIV as a weapon of war in the République Démocratique du Congo. Raping a boy will easily perforate his bowel, and he’s as good as dead. The war in République Démocratique du Congo is particularly vicious. We would argue that it is a crime against humanity to use rape as a weapon of war and as a mechanism to conduct biological warfare in the form of HIV.

Tonight, we had some video come in from Moise who filmed a beheading (with machetes) in a Congo village. This is HIS life. The Congo is at war with itself. Raymond, Moise’s peer-mentor, was shocked to his core. This time the less experienced boy is teaching the more experienced boy. The word experience implies a one-way street. Life is not like that. Real learning is an animal of some reciprocity. Raymond has decided to only show some stills. It is enough. The beheading is too horrific.

This is for Moise. I am Raymond. I am your peer-mentor. The video you have sent me is shocking. I have never seen a human being beheaded before. At first, I did not know what to say. I do not see how we can show a human being beheaded by soldiers. I am sorry. I am sorry you had to see this. I am sorry you are trying to run from these soldiers. Here is what I think we can do. I think we can try to get some still photography from your video. We can still tell the story that you are fleeing soldiers, who are raping and killing people village to village. I am praying for you to live. You need to know that I will always tell you the truth. This project was designed for something less than this. But we need to know this is happening in your part of the world. Please be as safe as possible. I am in awe of your ability to survive this. Your friend, Raymond

Moise was the one forced to rape and kill his mother in front of the family. Then Moise was gang raped in front of his family, while they were forced to watch. Or be killed. They were killed anyway. Moise was cut with machetes and left for dead by the males (some were boys themselves) who committed this crime.

A form of violence specifically perpetrated against males is forcing them to rape family members, a practice known as forced incest, where both the rapist and the victim suffer the violence. (SHATTERED LIVES: Immediate medical care vital for sexual violence victims. A report by Médecins Sans Frontières. March 2009).

CORNERED by Jasha (SMYL peer-mentor; survivor). "This video is for Moise. I learned a lot from you."

I am always feeling cornered. By death. By the life that encircles me with walls and cubicles and boxes and the weight of history and the gravitas (translator’s word) of definitions and old dead bones. I feel trapped in languages and with Tim translating; Tim writing it down as we attempt to work together and bridge what is human to the two of us
— Tim, what does this mean please write it down I do not understand —

What death means and what life means, now. And me hearing but I do not know what anyone means anymore. Moise died. Why, Tim, why. And not from AIDS but from his infected machete wound, so in the end it was AIDS that became a warzone. I know he felt trapped. By the virus that is violence. By his survival and running. By seeing his family killed like that. By soldiers on one side and soldiers on the other side.

This video is for Moise. I learned a lot from you.

Tim says learn one. Do one. Teach one. This is the doing.

I do not know what “Cornered” says. The video is my voice. The images themselves are only stories. Narratives like the Russian doll inside the doll inside the doll inside the smiling doll. It’s all a prison. We are imprisoned. We all have bars that keep us caged. I grew up disassembling all those dolls. Now, I only want to reconstruct them so I can understand what was actually on the inside.

It doesn’t really matter if Tim screws up with translations. It’s only important that we see what was on the inside of the doll is the doll. There are no answers to a Russian mystery. That is what HIV and AIDS are to most Russians. Another mystery and maybe it is not real. We suspect everything. To only reveal a litany of dolls that that are pulled from my bad dreams of being chased and scars and outer shells.

I told Moise he would have great scars when he healed. But then he said, “They will kill me.”

Yes. I have searched among the ragged sycamores.

I have pushed the memories away into the forgotten blue room.

The real war is to learn to cherish whatever moments we have whether we are running from a group of soldiers or escaping the prison inside the prison inside the prison’s walls.

It is all a trap.

There is no escape but one.

I do hope Moise found his.

English Translation

Arise, Congolese,
United by fate,
United in the struggle for independence,
Let us hold up our heads, so long bowed,
And now, for good, let us keep moving boldly ahead, in peace.
Oh, ardent people, by hard work we shall build,
In peace, a country more beautiful than before.

Countrymen, sing the sacred hymn of your solidarity,
Proudly salute the golden emblem of your sovereignty, Congo.

Blessed gift (Congo) of our forefathers (Congo),
Oh beloved (Congo) country,
We shall people your soil and ensure your greatness.
(30 June) Oh gentle sun (30 June) of 30 June,
(Holy day) Be witness (holy day) of the immortal oath of freedom
That we pass on to our children forever.

Note: The words in parentheses are to be sung by a choir; the rest are to be sung by soloists.

National Anthem: Debout Congolais (Arise Congolese) by Joseph Lutumba

Debout Congolais,

Unis par le sort,
Unis dans l'effort pour l'indépendance,
Dressons nos fronts, longtemps courbés
Et pour de bon prenons le plus bel élan, dans la paix,
O peuple ardent, par le labeur, nous bâtirons un pays plus beau qu'avant, dans la paix.

Citoyens, entonnez, l'hymne sacré de votre solidarité,
Fièrement, saluez, l'emblème d'or de votre souveraineté, Congo.

Don béni (Congo) des aïeux (Congo),
O pays (Congo) bien aimé (Congo),
Nous peuplerons ton sol et nous assurerons ta grandeur.
(Trente juin) O doux soleil (trente juin) du trente juin,
(Jour sacré) Sois le témoin (jour sacré) de l'immortel, serment de liberté
Que nous léguons, à notre postérité, pour toujours.

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