Congolese Bishop Condemns Acts of Cannibalism

New Chapter in Civil War

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KINSHASA, Congo, FEB. 2, 2003 (ZENIT.orgFides).- Reports of cannibalism by militant rebels in Congo prompted a bishop’s strong response against the grisly practice.

«Everyone in Congo condemns cannibalism,» said Bishop Melchisedech Sikuli Paluku of Butembo-Beni. He was among the first to denounce violence and cannibalism against the Pygmy people on the part of militant rebels of the Movement for Liberation of Congo (MLC), led by Jean-Pierre Bemba.

«This was not a case of tribal rituals,» the bishop said. «The worst thing is that these crimes foment racism which paints Africa and Africans as primitive beings.»

«The United Nations is investigating reports and terrifying testimony,» he said. «It is affirmed that MLC warriors forced family members to eat their own relatives.»

He added: «Every day, new crimes are discovered, like the common graves found recently near Mambasa, the city attacked by Bemba’s militants.»

A Xaverian missionary, identified only as Father Silvio, told the Fides news service: «I have just returned from that area and everyone I spoke to was horrified by these inhuman acts.»

«I would underline that Congo is living a civil war which has caused at least 2 million deaths,» he added. «It is in this context where people lose their mind and all sense of ethics that the episode of cannibalism must be seen.»

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