Statement made on 11 June 2009 by Senator Eymard Corbin (retired)
Hon. Eymard G. Corbin:
Honourable senators, in 2005, I had the distinct honour of visiting a health clinic in Goma, North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of the Congo, with other members of the foreign affairs committee. Most of the work at the clinic involved caring for the battered bodies of adult and teenage women and very young girls who had been brutally raped by rebel soldiers, bands of roving militia, other teenagers and child soldiers.
As I said, it was an honour to visit the clinic so that I could witness the exemplary dedication of the African doctors and medical staff to their humanitarian work. They are utterly devoted to putting their professional knowledge and experience into practice, often in innovative ways. Unfortunately, most of the women who had been assaulted died in appalling conditions before they could even make it to the clinic.
Today, I want to emphasize how terrible I felt when I saw the degree to which that particular region of the Congo is still suffering from violence, savagery and the complete absence of respect for the law. Some say that 5 million have died. That number does not even begin to tell the story of the suffering, the physical and mental cruelty that people have been subjected to, and the trauma that will last a lifetime.
The tens of thousands of foreign UN troops on the ground on a peace mission could have intervened and would have intervened had they been authorized to do so. That is what a high-ranking commander told me. It goes without saying that he was frustrated. Why have they not been instructed to intervene? What are all of these countries waiting for? Why allow such cruelty and misery to persist?
I have the utmost respect and admiration for those martyred women. Never will I forget the monstrous criminal acts perpetrated against them and the suffering of the people in general. It is difficult, if not impossible, to find the words to speak of the unspeakable.
Never will I forget the battered women of the Congo. Never will the memory of the people of the Congo be erased from my mind.