CABINDA - NOVEMBER 2007
A reign of terror intimidation arbitrary arrest torture rape and killings take part every day in Cabinda, further to this 70% of the population under Military occupation of the unelected MPLA lives under the poverty line 70% of the Cabinda population lives with less then US$1 per day.
Cabinda: The Invisible Genocide
by Cory Sine Sep 30, 2007There are places in this world we all know or have heard of, through film and newsprint, through the pleas of actors and Bono; places where something is happening that we can describe unblushingly, and without irony, only as evil. Take Darfur in the Sudan. With a little searching of the Internet, anyone can find a litany of atrocities. There are Paul Rusesabaginas and Romeo Dallaires, but they are few and far between. The question is always, what can we do?
Sometimes all we can do is try to tell the story of those who cannot. Wedged between the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) is a small, boot-shaped pocket of land. You will have to search for it with Google Earth, for it won’t be easily found on any maps. Within a few lakes and verdant green plains hidden under rows of wispy cloud, a word appears on the screen as you zoom in: Cabinda. There are no towns or cities to be found, just a network of roads across the plains. Its land area is just over 7,000 square kilometers and its current population is roughly 300,000. The idyllic African landscape of the small enclave belies dark secrets: the genocidal actions of an occupying military force; the complicity of a huge American oil conglomerate. A tiny African state vying for its freedom.
From the 15th century until 1975, Cabinda was a protectorate of Portuguese colonial forces in the Congo. The area, rich in petroleum, diamonds, gold, gas, phosphates, and a host of other resources, was a boon to any occupying force. In 1974, Portuguese colonial authorities allowed the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) to establish itself in the territory. FLEC had been fighting for independence since 1963. However, on the 11th of November, 1975, forces of the MPLA (National Union for the Liberation of Angola) invaded Cabinda. These soldiers were financially supported by American oil giant Chevron, who paid them to take over Cabindan oil fields.
Ever since this invasion, Cabinda has remained an enclave of Angola, though it is not geographically connected to Angola at any point and its culture remains distinct. The Angolan economy, flourishing since the recent end of their long civil war, is highly dependent on the Cabinda oil sector. It produces roughly half of their Gross Domestic Product and accounts for 90% of their export revenues. Oil production is currently between 700,000 and 900,000 barrels a day, generating approximately 8 million dollars daily for Angola and Chevron.
Since the invasion, a methodical and two-pronged genocide has occurred. At www.cabinda.net, some of the stories are told. Three pictures posted on the site are dated late January of this year. A dead pregnant woman with blood-soaked bandages on a mortuary slab; a mutilated corpse of a man who has clearly had his chest ripped open, the flesh around his teeth burned away; a body bound in bloodstained rags with burns on his arms. They are identified as examples of “killing of civilians by the MPLA”.
There is the story of a woman who, for two months last fall, was repeatedly gang-raped at gun-point by Angolan soldiers at a government military outpost in occupied Cabinda. The soldiers forced her to sleep outside in the rain in between assaults. The driver of the car from which she had been initially abducted had been shot point-blank and killed. There are stories of the destruction of food supplies in Cabindan villages, the burning of entire villages, summary executions, rape, torture, arrests, and beatings.
The website notes that Chevron-Texaco continues to do “good business” in the region with the assistance of the Angolan occupying forces. The President of Cabinda, his Excellency N’Zita Henriques Tiago, writes, “Chevron-Texaco and the evil MPLA regime are killing us. Please leave us alone, enough is enough. You are stealing our property, you are raping are women, you are killing our men, you are ending all future hope for the new generation, there is a genocide of the Cabindan people... If you can stop this, today do please help us.... We Cabindans live in misery because of the greed of an American oil company – Chevron–Texaco. We Cabindans have no quarrel with the American people but the greed and the exploitation of their American oil companies have brought death and misery to Cabinda.... We wish peace for Angola and for Angola to leave us in Peace.”
Amnesty International corroborates accounts of extrajudicial executions, torture, beatings, and indiscriminate shootings by Angolan security forces. The organization identifies the violations of human rights in Cabinda as falling into three main categories: unarmed civilians who are tortured or deliberately killed following army raids on their villages as retribution against rebel attacks; people who are killed or wounded in random attacks by soldiers not acting under the instructions of their superiors; and, victims of torture, which is normally used for purposes of obtaining information or for punishment and crude intimidation. Amnesty continues, “reports of soldiers and other officials threatening to harm or kill people or actually carrying out beatings and killings are commonplace... One of the main causes of suffering in Cabinda is the illegal and unchecked actions of soldiers and other law enforcement personnel.” One account speaks of soldiers and police roaming the capital shooting civilians indiscriminately killing one woman and wounding several others. Yet another story tells of an army officer having killed seven people and wounding another eleven when a truck driver refused to give him a lift. Since the invasion by MPLA forces, nearly one third of the original Cabindan population has fled to neighboring countries to escape the violence. The number of Cabindan refugees living in exile is an estimated 950,000.
Human Rights Watch notes that since late 2002 approximately 30,000 Angolan troops were deployed in Cabinda. By mid-2003 the Angolan had virtually defeated FLEC. Regardless of this, a large number of Angolan forces remain in the territory. Peter Takirambudde, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Africa division, notes, “[T]he Angolan army continues to commit crimes against civilians in Cabinda... The Angolan government must put and end to impunity and bring the abusers to justice... Women and girls in Cabinda remain vulnerable to sexual violence by the Angolan army... Luanda cannot allow its soldiers to commit rape and other sexual violence with impunity.”
The Attorney General for the Republic of Cabinda, is collecting the stories of persecuted Cabindans for action in the International War Crimes Tribunal. In response to my inquiries, he writes “Genocide can be fast or slow. In the case of Cabinda, it is the extinguishment by Angola of the Cabindan national identity through an ongoing pattern of human rights violations including rape, torture, deportation, summary execution, and criminalizing the Cabindan identity. Cabinda is an enclave and was never part of Angola, its people were never Angolans and were administered separately by the former colonial power, Portugal, as a protectorate... Cabinda was recognized by the Organization of African States as a country to be granted independence instead it was invaded by Angolan MPLA troops with the connivance of Cabinda Gulf Oil... and illegally occupied thereafter."
He continues, “Instead of becoming the Kuwait of Africa with an educated population and teeming mineral and oil resources, Cabinda has become the crown jewel of the corrupt government in Luanda. Gulf Oil of course was more inclined to deal with the corrupt MPLA than face a Cabindan national government which might want access and a say in its own resources. The loser in all this has been not just the Cabindans but Africa as a whole. An independent Cabinda owing to its small but educated population would have been a centre for African finance and culture funded with its returns from its mineral and oil wealth. Instead of becoming Africa’s shining pearl, it is now just a pumping station for the international oil cartel.”
Chevron has played a role in African oil interest for forty years. Their Angolan operations of exploration, development and production of offshore oil interests in Cabinda represent their second largest oil operation in Africa. As shareholders in Cabinda Gulf Oil Company (an Angolan company), Chevron-Texaco has a great deal to lose should Cabindan independence become a reality. Their homepage mentions that they are the largest oil exploration and production company in Angola (under the auspices of Cabinda Gulf Oil). There is a brief paragraph referencing company scholarships to African students, the introduction of electricity to villages, and attempts to combat HIV/AIDS. There is no mention of any conflict and there is no mention of Cabinda except in the name of its subsidiary. Chevron was approached for comment on their Cabindan operations. They did not respond.
As to why Cabinda has avoided global attention, UBC anthropologist David Ryniker states, “I think Cabinda is outside of our consciousness... Angola was prominent in the 1980s with Castro’s support of the MPLA and Reagan’s support of [Unita rebel leader] Jonas Savimbi but Cabinda was not prominent. Add to the fact that Zaire has been in civil war, that’s two major distractions next to it. Cabinda never became the poster-boy for African relief... there’s a case of charity-fatigue in the West, there’s only so much people want to know, people just don’t want to hear about it.”In a world where oil and petroleum are quickly becoming valuable and disappearing commodities, the plight of a small African enclave is deemed minor in comparison with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The world adopted a similar cynical position nearly ten years ago, and nearly 1 million Rwandans were massacred as a result. The cultural and physical genocide in Cabinda is methodical and relentless. The Cabindans ask only to be left in peace and to have their voices heard on the world stage. For his part, Jonathan Levy is positive: “The independence of Cabinda is not just likely but it is a historical inevitability. The battle will be fought not just in cities and hinterlands of Cabinda but now in the world legal courts.” For his sake, and the sake of all Cabindans, let us hope that the West does not fail Africa yet again.
CABINDA AND ITS FATE:
FREEDOM AND THE NEED OF AN INTERNATIONAL INTERVENTION
The Front of the Liberation of the State of Cabinda (Flec) sends its compliments and congratulations to all attendants to the EU-AU Summit, especially to Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government of Europe and Africa, and seizes the opportunity to make a strong appeal to the International community for an international, fair and democratic solution for the conflict of Cabinda grounded basically on a Law breach, a misunderstanding, a political error (Alvor agreement of 15 January 1975) and a blind military solution of the MPLA state unable and unwilling to cope with the problem with Justice, intelligence and humanity.
This paper has been prepared to help the Heads of state and government invited to the Europe and Africa Summit to be held in Lisbon on 8 and 9 of December 2007, for a better understanding of the core of the question as well to make a new evaluation of the situation in Cabinda for an effective approach of the critical and lasting conflict of Cabinda, a territory under angolan occupation since the invasion occurred on 02 November 1974, where the current war of aggression provokes a numerous cases of Human and Peoples rights violations, some of which objectively reported by loco and international independent and credible Human Rights organizations as well as by the Front of Liberation of the state of Cabinda, the legitimate representative of the People of Cabinda, the independentist movement leadind the historic armed resistance (an ultimate expression of legitimate defense that should not be labelled as terrorism just for the benefit of the aggressor: MPLA).
Our main request: The Front of Liberation of the state of Cabinda should be recognized as the international partner and the credible interlocutor for effective political talks under the scope of international community in order to implement an effective political process and achieve a true peace to replace the memorandum of understanding and peace doomed to collapse.
When the memorandum of understanding between the Mpla and the ex-Flec-Renovada under the cover of Forum Cabindês p/ o Diálogo, was concluded, two questions came up across to a reflection: first, how would the ex-Flec-Renovada implement the so said peace deal without the support of the majority of the Cabindan people, the international community and the main faction of Flec-Facu of the Cabindan struggle? Second, how would the Flec-Facu, rejecting faction of the peace deal will continue to maintain the momentum of the struggle without any external support and the recognition from African States especially the two Congos bordering Cabinda, the international community, and to convince Angola to come to the table for the end of the conflict in the region?
After the conclusion of the so called memorandum of understanding, Angola made an official declaration via its Ministry of Defence that: “all those rejecting the peace deal must be hunted and captured wherever they are” (Angonoticias). A month later, the Angolan government increased a number of thousands of well equipped troops, polices, secret agents and had created new military bases in Cabinda to ensure that the peace deal with the surrendered group is implemented by all means.
The brutality against the Cabindan people has worsted and in all its forms. The attaches of Mpla forces are increasing day by day against the positions of the Movements of National Liberation in all territory of Cabinda and now the Angolan forces are operating from the two Congos so that the two boarders can be well controlled to impede the Movements of National Liberation (Flec) to escape the incursion which is underway to finish the resistance of Cabinda people.
In the church it has been forcefully imposed an Angolan priest to lead the Cabindan Catholic Church in the exclusion of the local ones who are suspended and expelled from the local Church and threaten to death.
The only Human Rights organization operating in Cabinda called Mpalabanda Civic Association of Cabinda (MACC) was immediately banned after the conclusion of the peace deal. Many activists are under house arrest, others imprisoned and, some others are now Asylum seekers elsewhere in Africa, Europe and America.
Journalist and Non-Governmental organizations are forbidden of travelling to the region. Sara Wikes cares the scars on behalf of Cabindans for travelling to Cabinda without the permission from Luanda to interfere with the local politics. She was detained for couple of months and she would be the better person to tell the world how bad the situation of Cabinda is for the Cabindan people (www.ibinda.com).
Peasants are forbidden to crop their fields which are the most basic source of food for the local people, while the 90% of 2 millions barrels of oil produced in Angola is coming from Cabinda (Cabindamonde). It is mostly used to buy weapons to fight against the Cabindan Movements of National Liberation, and the remaining is to be shared by the elite with the army Generals and in return Cabindan people receive discrimination, marginalization, exclusion, arbitrary arrests, detention without trial, torture, imprisonment, disappearance, abductions in foreign lands and summary execution, all of this, because of their right to self-determination and the access to their own resources, a matter that is an issue of International Instruments of Human Rights such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (GA Res 217 A(III) of 10 Dec 1948, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (24 ILM 535), the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples 1960 (GA Res 1514 (XV) 1960, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (GA Res 260 (III); 78 UNITS277) and the Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources (GA Res 1803 (XVII)1962).
Freedom of movement is restricted. A pass system, the so called guia de marcha is being used to control the movement of persons from one point to another. In every almost 10 kilometers there is a check point. People travelling, their parcels have to be checked for twenty times or more, depending where they are going to. The most drastic situations occur when the little car the people travel with has to be shared by force with the MPLA troops.
In both Congos, Angola and the surrendered group are making a forceful return of refugees in violation of Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees - (Art 33 of GA RES 429 (V) 1950; 189 NITS 137), and many leaders in those camps have been disappearing because of abductions that they are subjected from the regime of Luanda.
Women – mothers and girls – are brutally raped and forced to marry Angola soldiers, means the dignity of the Cabindan Woman is being violated and is against the back ground of the International Convention on the elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (GA Res 34/180 1979; 19ILM 33 (1980)).
Angolan occupant uses the strategy that in every village one military base of MPLA troops. Daily this troops brutally commit crimes which the perpetrators have immunity from the authorities and once the battalion or whatever structure is popular for its crime activities the authorities transfers it to south of Angola.
However, Flec (integrated mainly by the Flec-Fac) has reactivated its peaceful struggle against the 33 years of illegal occupation of Cabinda by the Mpla and its forces. It has reorganized its structures, its Arm forces and including the formation of the Cabindan Provisory Government in Exile (GPCE) whereby it has extended its diplomatic missions in the most key countries of Europe, Africa and America. The Pte of the Provisory Government of the Republic of the Cabinda Nzita Henriques Tiago has stated several times that: “the conflict of Cabinda should be ended by peaceful means and in terms of rules and principles of International Law that conceded Cabinda the Status of International Person and MPLA must have the Bona fide political will of respecting the Nation of Cabinda and its people so that their dignity can be restored”.
The interpretation of these words is very simple. As Albert Einstein stated, “We can’t solve problems using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”. This means that for 33 years Angola uses an old trick of wars of Kwata – Kwata in Cabinda to intimidate and to kill thinking that it will legalize its presence in that territory, forgetting that there is general rule which stipulates that: only the legal which makes the person to acquire the right. The legitimacy of Angola as it has been stated once and again will always be questionable in that territory until the occupation comes to an end.
The Cabindan person is no longer an object of abuses but a legal subject who has autonomous rights and duties to defend the integrity of its nation, territory and its people to whoever is in possession of it. In this moment the entire leadership of Cabinda men and women, black and white are engaged in finding a peaceful solution for Cabindan conflict which in last 33 years the world had been ignoring the Cabindan pain, suffering and death in a cruel and inhuman manner in the hands of Angolan authorities and its soldiers.
Cabindan people appeal to the world for an emergence political and humanitarian intervention;
Now, there is a need that the United Nations should intervene to end the Cabindan fate and to persuade the MPLA to stop the hegemony of war to the small State like Cabinda.
There is a need that the world should intervene to convince the Security Council to create a resolution which will force the MPLA to withdraw peacefully in that territory.
There is a need that the African Union should start considering the Colonialism of Angola over Cabinda which is a fact and in detriment of Cabinda and its helpless people because the situation can no longer be tolerated.
There is a need that the S.A.D.C should pay special attention to the issue of Cabinda.
Cabinda is never Southern Africa, Cabinda played a very important role for stability of this Sub-region of Africa because the leadership of Luanda trusted the huge resources of Cabinda to support the liberation struggle in the region and Angola never said the truth before the political leadership of this organization that the issue of Cabinda is real and serious and in return Cabinda request a very quick intervention soon than later.
There is an urgent need that the European Union should come up with character that will involve Portugal with the new attitude that will risk the situation of what it is now because Cabinda knows nothing about Angola but Portugal that accepted to protect Cabinda in 1885.
There is an essential need that the Central Africa Regional Community should intervene in defense of Cabinda which is a member of the Community and the presence of Angola in Cabinda threaten the peace and stability of the region including the two Congos
Cabinda on its lonely journey the struggle continues. It made an announcement that the territory of Cabinda shall no longer be called an enclave it must simply be called the ‘State of Cabinda’. The reason behind the change must not be questionable to no one, because Cabinda is a sui generis territory with its peculiarities which needs to be restored, renewed or rehabilitated so that it can retain its Status of a quo. But why? This is why Cabinda is sui generis.
Portugal acquired the territory of Cabinda through a treaty of Simulambuco concluded between the local people and Portugal in 01/02 /1885 recognized by the third party of Berlin Conference (Russia, France, Great Britain, Italy and etc) in the same year. The same conference conceded Portugal the right to rule the territory in the exclusion of others who were the real contenders to the territory.
Although many mentally, disturbed Portuguese writers have written that: Cabinda had been integrated into Angola after Portugal had concluded the deal with the traditional authorities of Cabinda, that Cabinda was integrated in 1954 and that the Alvor Agreement integrated Cabinda. We must not talk of integration without the consent of Cabindan who created the treaty of Protectorate for themselves with Portugal.
It is ambiguous or contradictory what many Portuguese writers are telling that the integration occurred three times without an Act of integration, without the recognition of the third party and without the consent of the people who requested protection from the Portuguese authority. This is a bland application of the rules; and the international law requires the interpretation of the old friend of jus Cogens. It is peremptory norm that is obligatory that states owes to the international community as a whole and in the enforcement of which all states have an interest (Art 53 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties).
Therefore, as the “State of Cabinda” enters in its 34 year of violence perpetrated by an official terrorist (MPLA) we need to remind the International Community, International Organizations and Independent Individuals that Cabinda needs not to be waiting for 34 years again to be recognized as a “STATE” on its own and not as province brutally annexed for unjust enrichment for the elite and generals from Luanda. This we think should be the right time to give us your helping hands because Cabinda forms part of the global village and is not in heaven where no one will reach.
In summary Cabinda is in state of war, the peace is a fake, gross human right violation, unjust enrichment to those countries forming partnership with the MPLA to appropriate the resources of Cabinda in the exclusion of the real owners, corruption in the international circles to avoid a debate of the issue of Cabinda and the lies of the MPLA leadership before the international community that the issue of Cabinda is merely the betterment of the social conditions and NOT POLITICAL ONE.
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