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Victims’ voices: a survivor of gun violence speaks out

Victor Amisi, is a survivor of gun violence and the head of Project GRAM which works in the Democratic Republic of Congo to promote human rights in defending the rights of children and women, speak to AOAV.  These are his words.  

Experience growing up
Since 1996,  I have worked on the promotion and protection of the rights of children and women affected by armed violence in Eastern DR Congo. This has been my focus: to give new life to ex-combatants, women and girls. Meanwhile, I was very involved in monitoring violations of human rights and the flow of arms into the region. I contacted local warlords and other fighters in order to secure the release of children from their armed groups and conducting outreach for non-recruitment. I initiated, with colleagues, the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers in DR Congo. This work put my family and myself at risk and exposed me to arrests, threats and intimidation, but no threat would thwart my passion for peace. Gun violence was at a maximum.

As a survivor
On June 04, 2005, I was attacked in my home. We hid under our beds in order to avoid the bullets. All at once, the house was surrounded and a rocket smashed into the door. I was forced to my knees with a gun pointed at my head. They demanded money and our phones; they threatened to kill us and attempted to rape my sister who was only a child. Furious, I fought against the rebels, because I did not want this situation to continue in front of my eyes and in front of my two-year-old daughter. I was severely beaten with the butt end of a rifle. After a short fight, the commander ordered the men to stop hitting me and leave me because I was hurt.

One soldier knelt down pointing his gun at me. He looked to his right where my two-year-old daughter, carrying her doll, was. Their eyes met and he stopped and asked if it was my child.

That’s when he told me: “If I do not kill you, it’s because of this child. But you will probably be less lucky with the next. ”

What I do now
What did not kill me made ​​me stronger. I emigrated and in Canada created the Canadian branch of my organization, Vision GRAM- International. Wanting to understand and educate others in regards to the situation of armed violence that had lasted in the region and why I am a victim, I continued my work in the office of Amnesty International, Africa regional office in Kampala, Uganda.

I am actively engaged in the Control Arms campaign, the IANSA network while strengthening my actions against the use of child soldiers. I joined several networking and coalitions calling for international justice and the recognition of the rights of survivors of gun violence and the Responsibility to Protect. I participate in international meetings and discussions at the United Nations in order to give my voice, as a survivor in the process of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), disarmament and the UN program on Small Arms to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small, and the abolition of nuclear weapons.

As a survivor of gun violence, I continue to seek funds to help other survivors, to raise their voices and to support any action to prevent armed violence. I focus my attention on the future of young people who need to build their communities and contribute to the world peace.

I will continue to fight for justice and rights of survivors and as blood flows through my veins, I will not give up this fight.