Cabinda is becoming the new Rwanda

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Africa Program

Washington D.C., April 5

Yesterday, Angola celebrated the second year of peace against the backdrop of ongoing military conflict in Angolan occupied Cabinda, and the worrisome rising levels of political intolerance in the southern part of Angola.

On my way to Washington D.C., I spent a morning, in Johannesburg, assisting, with medical arrangements, for a young Cabinda lady, Judite Mavungo. For two months up to last November, she was routinely gang-raped, usually at gun point, by Angolan soldiers at a government military outpost in occupied Cabinda. During that time, the Angolan soldiers kept her sleeping outside on the grass enduring rainfalls, with no shelter at all. Judite’s case is one of many, which exposes the criminality of war in the oil-rich occupied Cabinda. The driver of the private car she was in had been executed on the spot when she was first kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery.

Chevron-Texaco continues to collaborate with the Angolan invaders, steeling the oil of Cabinda, destroying the future of the next Cabindan generations.

In March, state-controlled radio called on soldiers and members of the paramilitary Rapid Intervention Police to "mercilessly annihilate" FLEC fighters, claiming that they had murdered, maimed and tortured civilians, and "press-ganged" and "used them as slaves".

Amnesty International received reports of human rights violations by Angolan government forces. Angolan Government soldiers reportedly destroyed at least 15 villages in the Buco Zau, Necuto and Belize areas, displacing and killing villagers. Soldiers posted in villages formerly under FLEC control allegedly accompanied villagers to their fields, impeding their work and increasing food shortage.

A Angolan government soldier shot dead two Cabindan teenage girls in a village in Belize municipality during the temporary absence of their father in February. The soldier had been staying in their home and the girls had cooked his meals. Villagers said that he fired three shots at the younger girl, then shot her sister as she was running away.

Angolan soldiers arrested Eduardo Brás while he was fishing near Caio Caliado village in October. The following day they entered Caio Caliado and arrested and beat his brother and four other men. Days later, seven soldiers arrested José Capita, also from Caio Caliado, at his home in Cabinda city. At the end of 2003 their families had no news of the seven men.

In a report in November, local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Cabinda detailed over 100 cases of arbitrary arrest, torture, rape, extra judicial execution and "disappearance" in 2003. There is no adequate response from the Angolan military or civilian authorities in central government to the reports of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by military personnel committed against the Cabindan people.

On a recent visit to the province, the UN Special Representative for Human Rights Defenders, Hina Jilani, raised concern over the high number of government troops in the enclave, commenting that human rights violations continued to occur because of the close proximity of the military to civilian populations.

An ad-hoc commission for human rights in Cabinda published a report in November 2003 detailing accounts of violence, abuse, torture, summary killings, rape and illegal detentions against the civilian population

James Hobart