Kinshasa - The surgeon who is the subject of an acclaimed film about efforts to help women raped by the military and militia in the Democratic Republic of Congo has hit out at its banning.
Denis Mukwege, who has treated thousands of women sexually abused during conflict, said a decision by censors to veto "The Man Who Mends Women" was indicative of the "climate of oppression" in the DRC.
It "demonstrates the willingness of the government to deny the Congolese people the right of access to information... in order to better manipulate and control," Mukwege said in a statement issued Thursday.
"In the DR Congo, we live in a climate of oppression, diminishing human rights and a shrinking space for fundamental freedoms," he said.
A number of opposition and civil society activists have been arrested in recent months in the wake of a deadly January crackdown on demonstrations against President Joseph Kabila.
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Belgian film maker Thierry Michel's movie follows Mukwege's efforts to repair the physical and psychological injuries of the victims of sexual violence.
Banning the film this week, DRC media minister Lambert Mende said: "There is a clear intent to harm and sully the image of our army and no country in the world could tolerate it.
"That is why we have banned the showing of the film here."
The film follows the activity of gynaecologist Mukwege in the Panzi Hospital he founded in 1999, and which he has run in the South Kivu city Bukavu while operating on several rape victims each day.
The militants vying for control of the region's mineral wealth use rape to terrorise the local population, though members of the army are also known to have undertaken regular waves of mass sexual assault.
Mukwege was awarded the European Parliament's Sakharov rights prize last November.