"And with all the horrors shown in the film, it is important to me not to lose sight of hope. If ‘The Congo Tribunal' has proved one thing, it is that the truth can be found, no matter how complicated the connections are. And justice is possible, here and now. We just have to establish it."
Milo Rau, Director „THE CONGO TRIBUNAL“
When Milo Rau realized the "Congo Tribunal" in Bukavu in 2015, the country was shocked: two ministers were dismissed, with its motto "Vérité et Justice" ("Truth and Justice"), the theatre tribunal became the hope for change in a region suffering from a civil war that had lasted for over 20 years. And when the epinomous documentary was presented to the Congolese population in the summer of 2017, the reactions were overwhelming: thousands of Congolese had come to see the film. "This film is the latest cry for help: Rise! What are you waiting for?" said a spectator to one of the accompanying journalists. For Denis Mukwege, winner of the Alternative Nobel Prize, director of the Pansi Hospital (Bukavu), it is a film "invaluable to our country."
Now, the "Congo Tribunal" is the first art project ever to become an institution: Together with a group of Congolese and international lawyers, human rights activists and journalists (e. g. Sylvestre Bisimwa, Solange Lusiku, Jean-Louis Gilissen, Colette Braeckman, Harald Welzer, Wolfgang Kaleck), we are continuing the fight against impunity in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which began with Milo Rau's international touring film & installation "The Congo Tribunal". The aim is to set up and establish an institution in Eastern Congo that will deal with mass and economic crimes in the region using a series of local civil society tribunals along the lines of the "Congo Tribunal" (2015/2017). In order to support the planned tribunals financially, in terms of content, organisation and logistics, the association DOCTIVISM collects donations. This NGO was founded by Fruitmarket, Langfilm and the IIPM.
The campaign "Let's Create Two, Three, Many Congo Tribunals" will officially be launched on March 9th at the Academy of Arts (Berlin) in the presence of the chief investigator Sylvestre Bisimwa, jury member Wolfgang Kaleck and director Milo Rau.
The campaign is supported by numerous institutions and personalities, among them the Swiss secretary of justice, Mrs. Simonetta Sommaruga and the German federal Judge, Dr. Nikolaus Berger.
Ending impunity in Eastern Congo is an exhausting, tedious process. A comprehensive investigation of the mass crimes committed during the civil war has to date been undertaken neither by national nor by international courts. Exploitation of the raw materials, which are irreplaceable for Western industries, continues to be accompanied by resettlement, conflict and violence.
For The Congo Tribunal, Milo Rau has assembled the victims, perpetrators, witnesses and analysts of the Congolese war in a unique civilian tribunal in eastern Congo. And what seemed impossible was achieved: All parties involved – the government, the opposition, the military, rebels, international mining groups, local miners, farmers, victims, perpetrators/culprits, human rights activists and experts on globalization – took part and testified in the publicly held tribunal.
The success of these symbolic hearings was resounding because for the first time in two decades, a protected public space was created in which the victims of displacement, expropriation, rape and murder were able to raise their concerns and accusations and have been heard by regional and national governments as well as by a local and international audience.
Since the first Congo Tribunal, the victims of mass crimes and the civil society in the provinces of North and South Kivu continue to demand justice and an independent and impartial tribunal. In 2018, the internationally renowned lawyers Jean-Louis Gilissen, criminal defence lawyer and victim’s representative at the International Criminal Court, and Sylvestre Bisimwa, Congolese human rights lawyer, intend to establish a form of continuous civil society legal investigation of human rights violations at local level in order to support the plea against impunity on a national and international level.
Several local tribunals (five are currently planned) are being set up at various locations of past mass and economic crimes in eastern Congo. Their task is to collect credible evidence of the crimes and to call for prosecution of the perpetrators. So that the victims of the civil war in eastern Congo can have a voice and the truth about past crimes can be heard.
We want to support the planned tribunals financially, in terms of content, organisation and logistics, because we are convinced that they will help pave the way for peace.