Dominican Month for Peace 2018
Prot. 50/18/506 Promoter of J&P
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Warm greetings again from Rome!
You may remember the letter we sent last year in which we proposed that every December be a Dominican Month for Peace in order to promote a global Dominican solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are trying to bring hope in situations of violence and war. We are now writing to you to inform you that the focus of our Dominican Month for Peace for 2018 will be on the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Our focus last year on Colombia inspired Dominican communities in all parts of the world to demonstrate solidarity with the suffering of the Colombian people and with the efforts of Dominicans there to be advocates of peace. We received many reports of Masses celebrated, prayers offered, awareness of Colombia raised, Colombian embassies contacted and a number of financial contributions made for the training of peacemakers in the Diocese of Tibú, Catatumbo. Some of these activities were reported on our websites. We thank all those communities who made such a commendable effort, and we are especially grateful to those who sent us reports and photos of their initiatives. We will be very grateful still to receive such information from others who took initiatives, but who have not yet informed us of their solidarity efforts!
This positive global response has encouraged us to arrange this second Dominican Month for Peace in 2018. After considering several suggestions, we have decided that the focus this year will be on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The people of this country have been living through decades of devastating wars with ongoing massacres and human rights violations perpetrated by government forces and scores of opposing armed groups who, along with many foreign powers and companies, are scrambling to extract the rich natural resources of the country.
In this seemingly hopeless context where millions of people are rendered extremely vulnerable, our Dominican brothers and sisters are trying to bring hope by strengthening the capacity of the people to become agents of sustainable development and peace. In this 2018 Month for Peace, therefore, we hope that the whole Order will find ways to encourage and support them in these valuable efforts. As in 2017, the period of this focus will be Advent, when we are all waiting for the celebration of the mystery of the incarnation of the Prince of Peace. Our focus on peace in the DRC will therefore start on the First Sunday of Advent (2 December), run for the whole of December, and culminate on the Church’s World Day of Peace on 1 January.
As we did in 2017, we encourage you to consider any or all of the following suggestions of ways to express your solidarity with our Dominican brothers and sisters in the DRC:
- Each entity is asked to organise at least one Prayer Vigil and Solemn Eucharist for Peace, Reconciliation and Development in the DR Congo.
- This can be done creatively to raise awareness about the situation of violence in the DRC and how it relates to your local reality.
- One idea given is to create a space for a labyrinth in your church or chapel or convent which can be identified with the search for peace in the DR Congo. We include details of this suggestion in the attached materials.
- Our monasteries of nuns are especially requested to strengthen the project through their prayers throughout the month.
- We are all asked to incorporate this focus on peace in the DRC into our ordinary Advent preaching and to diffuse this as far as possible through the media of your entity. Wherever possible, it would be useful to invite a member of the Order in the DRC who is present in your entity to speak.
- Collection of Works of Art:
- All artists within the Order (painters, photographers, poets, musicians, …) are invited to contribute towards the process of peace and reconciliation by producing a work of art that can either be
- published in the Order’s media, or
- offered to our sisters and brothers in the DRC, or
- sent to Santa Sabina, or
- placed in local symbolic spaces in your home country to raise local and global awareness of the need for peace and reconciliation.
- In 2017, hardly any works of art were produced. However, one that was received a bit late was a beautiful photograph taken for the occasion by our brother, Adam Rokosz, from the Province of South Germany and Austria. We have decided to use this photograph as the logo for this year’s Month for Peace. You can see a reflection on the photo attached. We hope that it will also encourage other artists in the Order to share their talents for this good cause!
- A Collection or Financial Contribution:
- In the University of Uélé, which is a Dominican initiative in Isiro, in the Haut- Uélé Province, a Civic Education Program “Le Programme d’éducation civique (PEDUC)”, has been established. The university and this project are largely run by members of the Dominican Family. The project aims to help the people of the Uélé region to know, promote and defend their rights and fundamental freedoms long ignored and flouted after decades of dictatorship followed by abusive “wars of liberation” in the country. We are asked to make financial contributions that will be used to support and strengthen this vital project for a better civic and electoral education of the Congolese people through:
- Awareness-raising campaigns (including the setting up of a radio/television station) and training sessions on the human rights and duties of citizens, on the nature of democracy and on a culture of tolerance; and
- Offering conflict resolution services to ensure the prevention and management of tribal or interethnic conflicts in these processes.
- Contact with the local DR Congo Embassy:
- Ensure that the local embassy of DR Congo is informed about the Order’s focus on solidarity with the struggle for sustainable development and peace in the DRC.
- Invite the ambassador and other embassy officials to participate in any activities organised.
- The embassy is encouraged to address the concerns raised by Dominicans in the DRC.
If you have other suggestions on ways to express solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the DRC, please
do share them with us.
How to send contributions?
For information as to where to send gifts, please contact : fr Roger GAISE, firstname.lastname@example.org; Tél: +243 81 81 40 679 or contact your Promoter of Justice and Peace.)
Works of Art: Write to the General Curia: Promoter for Justice and Peace email@example.com
General Information: fr Roger GAISE, firstname.lastname@example.org; Tél: +243 81 81 40 679
Attached please find a flyer with information about the reality in the DRC, including some testimonies of local people, to assist you in your planning of local events for the Month of Peace this year. So, as a next step, we urge you:
- to appoint a coordinator for the Month for Peace for your entity,
- to inform our promoters of Justice and Peace, fr Mike Deeb email@example.com and Sr Cecilia Espenilla firstname.lastname@example.org of the name of the coordinator appointed for your entity, and
- to allocate time for possible events in your regular programme for that month.
Thank you very much for your cooperation! We pray that, through this small action, solidarity amongst us all
can continue to grow and, in turn, enable our preaching mission to have a greater impact in bringing Good
News to our world.
Finally, we urge you to reflect on the efforts for peace of your own entity that would benefit from a global Dominican solidarity. We then invite you to develop a concrete project and to make a request to be the focus of our Dominican Month for Peace in the years to come. This request can be made through the Order’s General Promoter for Justice and Peace or the DSI International Promoter for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation.
In St Dominic,
br Bruno Cadoré
Master of the Order
sr Cecilia Espenilla
DSI International Promoter for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation
br Mike Deeb
General Promoter for Justice and Peace
Third Sunday of Advent:
Democratic Republic of Congo: world-famous producer of cell phone components
As we remember the Dominican Month for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo….
- The DRC is among the most resource-rich countries on the planet, with an abundance of gold, tantalum, tungsten, and tin - all minerals used in electronics such as cell phones and laptops - yet it continues to have an extremely poor population.
- In the DRC, only 1.8% of existing roads are tarred and less than 10% of the population has access to electricity today.
- Tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold have been dubbed "conflict minerals." Armed groups use the profits from sales for campaigns of widespread violence.
In the gospel today we hear the voice of John the Baptist, the messenger of Christ's birth rebuke the corruption and extortion of the soldiers and tax collectors, we are called to remember the corruption and abuse of the mining of minerals for the benefit of our cell phone and laptop computer industry in our country. May we open our eyes to recognize the abusive practices in the Democratic Republic of Congo. May we be inspired by the prophetic voice of John the Baptist, to find our voice of solidarity to stand with the miners for safety and dignity.
THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
"A MULTIFACETED COUNTRY ON A LONG ROAD TO PEACE"
1. THE STATE OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN DR CONGO
With a surface area of 2,345,000 square kilometers, 4 times the size of France, and 80 times the size of Belgium, the DRC is unfortunately characterised by a poor administration of justice, massive and systematic violations of human rights, and a crumbling economy resulting in poverty, misery, a high unemployment rate, illegal exploitation of its resources and especially armed conflicts of all kinds.
Indeed, out of the 26 provinces in the country, 6 are particularly affected and bruised by the activity of these armed groups. These are the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu, Maniema, Ituri, Bas-Uélé and Haut-Uélé. According to the Kivu security barometer established by the Congo Study Group (GEC) of New York University and Human Rights Watch, more than 140 armed groups are operating in the eastern DRC. Some of these groups are part of foreign conflicts that have raged in the DRC for several decades, including the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF / Uganda), the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDL / Rwanda), the Lord's Resistance Army ( LRA / Uganda and South Sudan) or the National Liberation Forces of Burundi (FNL / Burundi). Among the local groups, some of the most well-known are the Alliance of Patriots for a free and sovereign Congo (APCLS / since 2008) Raia Mutomboki (2005), Mai-Mai Yakutumba (2007), and the Patriotic Resistance Forces of Ituri (FPRPI / 2002).
According to several reports that are in agreement, the factors causing the proliferation of these armed groups are the fragmentation of several key groups through struggles for leadership, the persistence of interethnic conflicts, tensions with neighbouring countries, the political crisis (particularly provoked by the extension of the mandate of the current president, the postponement of elections, the duplication of political parties, the closing of spaces of free expression…) as well as the illicit trafficking of minerals.
Additional factors are the crisis in Kasai (in the Centre) where the conflict resulted in more than 5,000 deaths (2013-2016) and the Bantu / Pygmy conflict in Tanganyika (in the South-East). Thousands of children are recruited and used every year by these armed groups. According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Mission in the Congo (MONUSCO), in 2017, violations against children reached alarming proportions, with a total of 3 883 cases of serious violations of the rights of the child, an increase of 66% from 2016. In fact, children were directly targeted, recruited and used as fetishes, soldiers, spies, messengers, human shields, sex slaves, etc. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Norwegian Refugee Council, all these armed groups have instigated violence that led in 2016 and 2017 to the largest internal displacement of people in the world, affecting more people than in Syria, Iraq or Yemen. Thus, according to these two sources, besides the tens of thousands of Congolese refugees in Zambia and Angola, and without mentioning the Burundians, Central Africans and South Sudanese who have fled to the DRC, the latter currently has 4 million displaced people, with an increase of 1.7 million in 2018. Moreover, the UN agency, FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), after an analysis conducted in 2017 in 138 of 145 territories (rural districts), concluded that 11% of the Congolese rural population were experiencing an acute food crisis, an increase of 30% from 2016.
Therefore, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), all the signs are pointing to a major humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2018 and in the years to come: "The situation in the DRC is likely to be ignored as it is set to become the most urgent emergency in 2018" said IOM executive Mohammed Abdiker after a trip to the country whose instability threatens the heart of the continent.
2. WHAT ARE THE DOMINICANS DOING?
In the light of the context described above, several members of the Dominican family are involved alongside the most vulnerable and underprivileged with a view to accompanying them both in the promotion of human rights (Dominican Missionaries of the Rosary, Dominicans of Santo Domingo, St Dominic’s Parish in Kinshasa) and through civic and electoral education (Civic Education Program – PEDUC - of the University of Uélé). There is also an Observatory for the Exploitation of Natural Resources and Investments in the Uélé Basin (OBERIUELE) set up by the University of Uélé (which is largely managed by members of the Dominican family) in order, not only to accompany the small-scale miners, but also to to ensure the social benefits of the exploitation of natural resources by multinationals which are increasingly establishing themselves in the Uélé region.
3. APPEAL TO THE DOMINICAN FAMILY TO CONTRIBUTE TOWARDS A DR CONGO THAT IS RECONCILED AND AT PEACE
To support our brothers and sisters committed to promoting peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the members of the Dominican Family are urged to take the following actions:
- To organise at least one Prayer Vigil and Solemn Eucharist for Peace, Reconciliation and Development in the DR Congo.
- To incorporate this focus on peace in the DRC into our ordinary Advent preaching and to diffuse this as far as possible through the media of your entity.
- To invite and encourage all artists within the Order (painters, photographers, poets, musicians, …) to contribute towards the process of peace and reconciliation at the local and global levels by producing a work of art.
- To contact the local DR Congo Embassy to inform them about the Dominican Family’s focus on solidarity with the struggle for sustainable development and peace in the DRC.
- To make a financial contribution to PEDUC to support and strengthen the promotion and defence of fundamental rights and freedoms as well as civic and electoral education of the Congolese people.
4. CIVIC EDUCATION PROGRAM (PEDUC)
Directed by a Dominican sister of the Congrégation des Dominicaines filles de Sainte Catherine de Sienne, the Civic Education Programme (PEDUC - Programme d’Education Civique), with a proven track record of more than a decade, aims to help the people of the Congo to know, promote and defend their fundamental rights and freedoms. Through it, the University of Uélé also wants to contribute to the growth of a democratic spirit and culture as well as to the promotion of positive values that will lead to a conversion of mentalities. And PEDUC has chosen as its motto: "For a population aware of its rights and duties. "
Between 3 and 4 million Congolese people have benefited from projects initiated or led by PEDUC, which is part of a consortium at the national level of observers of the electoral process (known as SYMOCEL; Election Observation Missions).
5. SOME TESTIMONIES ABOUT PEDUC
“At the end of these days of training and evaluation of the postelection situation of 2006, I am very satisfied with the support of PEDUC which enabled us to know our responsibilities and especially our rights. I am very encouraged to see how PEDUC worked and fostered the emergence of enlightened and empowered women's leadership, so that we succeeded in getting a woman from the city of Isiro elected to be a member of the provincial legislature.” (JOSE LONYOBUNA, peer educator, Isiro, January 23, 2007).
"I am delighted to see the people of PEDUC come to us especially as we feel a little discriminated and marginalized by others. We do not even know if others see us as human beings. Last week, one of us was almost beaten to death. Had it not been for the intervention of PEDUC, he would still be languishing in the police cell. Please also respect us, especially since we are the first inhabitants of this region". (Frédéric AKPEZILA (Pygmy), Isiro July 26, 2018).
"Since I started following the broadcasts that PEDUC is organising, I feel more and more that the population of the city of Isiro has become very critical, and even more mature. The public discussion platforms that they organise enable the people increasingly to refuse to be deceived by politicians and their supporters. This is why certain speeches and remarks are no longer acceptable in the city of Isiro" (Léon BIGANA, Civil Society Activist and Coordinator of the NGO Voice of the Oppressed).
HOW TO SEND CONTRIBUTIONS
Name of Bank: BCDC (Code Swift : BCDCCDKI)
Intermediary Bank: Citi Bank New York (Swift : CITIUS33)
Address of Bank: Agence d’Isiro (Province Haut-Uélé)
Account Holder: Université de l’Uélé
Name of Account: UNIUELE/PROJETS
Account Number: 00154-00001331825-61 USD