‘Cry for Peace’ to raise awareness of crisis affecting the Congo

On Friday, Nov. 2, ARTSwego will present a benefit screening of “Cry For Peace: Voices of the Congo” as part of the annual Global Awareness Conference. Created by faculty of the Newhouse School at Syracuse University, the new video documents a timely and powerful theatrical production at Syracuse Stage earlier this fall.

Director Ping Chong and playwright Kyle Bass will be on hand to introduce the screening at SUNY Oswego’s Waterman Theatre at 7 p.m. “Cry for Peace” tells personal tales of tragedy, healing and perseverance of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a nation violently affected by the war in the neighboring country of Rwanda and the ceaseless civil wars on their own front. Instead of professional actors, refugees now living in Syracuse tell their own stories.

Following the fall of the genocidal Hutu regime in Rwanda, many militia members fled to the Congo. The influx of Hutu militia members in the region led Rwanda’s military to fight the Congolese troops, which had allied with the Hutu militia. From 1994 until 2003, more than five million people were killed in the regional conflicts.

The Congo has remained mired in genocide, civil war and political instability, struggling to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The country remains dangerous to many of its inhabitants, in particular women and children, as rape has become a constant and primary weapon of war.

In an effort to raise awareness of the global crisis affecting the Congo and to aid victims of the ongoing violence, proceeds from the benefit screening of “Cry for Peace: Voices” from the Congo will be donated to the Panzi Foundation USA.

According to an American Journal of Public Health report, nearly 1,100 women and children were raped daily in 2006-07 alone. Victims typically lived hundreds of miles from the nearest medical facilities and many die from their injuries.

In response, Dr. Dennis Mukwege founded the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, Congo, which specializes in treating victims of sexual violence. The Panzi Foundation USA, created in 2008, supports the primary work of the Panzi Hospital as well as outreach projects to rural clinics and communities. Tickets to the benefit screening are $5 and may be obtained at any campus box office, tickets.oswego.edu or by calling (315)312-2141.