Angola's Overlooked War in Cabinda

Army Abusing the Population, Say Church Figures

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CABINDA, Angola, JAN. 15, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Civilians of Cabinda, an enclave separated from the rest of Angola by Congo, continue to suffer grave abuses by the Luanda government’s armed forces, Church sources say.

Cabinda has been the scene of a years-long civil war between the army and the guerrillas of the Cabinda Enclave Liberation Front, which is fighting for independence from Angola.

The conflict in this southern African nation of 10.7 million has caused at least 30,000 deaths since 1975, when Angola gained independence from Portugal.

Speaking on Radio Ecclesia, Father Raul Tati, vicar general of the Cabinda Diocese, said that the military forces continue to act with impunity.

“Since this war began, we have been reporting flagrant violations of human rights,” he said. “There has been not a single case in which those responsible have been charged.”

According to the priest, tension in the region rises together with a “significant increase in the armed forces.”

“This means that the war continues in Cabinda, contrary to what the government’s official speeches lead one to believe,” he said.

Father Tati’s statements were confirmed by Father George Casimir Congo of Immaculate Conception Parish. In an interview with Lisbon-based Radio Renascenca, the priest said: “The Angolan government is quiet before the international community, but keeps its iron fist on the back of Cabinda’s population.”

Last year, the charity Aid to the Church in Need launched a campaign in Portugal entitled “Indifference Is a Crime,” to highlight the situation in Cabinda, where there are “summary executions, violence, tortures, destruction and lootings.”

Cabinda became a Portuguese protectorate in 1885 with the Treaty of Simulambuco. The territory is rich in oil; it produces 700,000 barrels a day and brings in two-thirds of the country’s total earnings.

The enclave was annexed to Angola when the country became independent from Portugal. In claiming special status for Cabinda, the existing liberation movements have engaged in open conflict with the Luanda government, which does not recognize the Treaty of Simulambuco.

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ZENIT Staff

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