News and Information

Angolan army 'abuses Cabindans'
February 2, 2005

By Zoe Eisenstein
BBC correspondent in Luanda

Angolan army soldiers
The Angolan army has tried to suppress the Flec separatist movement
The Angolan army is continuing to commit widespread abuses against civilians in the separatist enclave of Cabinda, a human rights group has said.

The Mpalabanda Civic Association says since September 2003 there have been numerous instances of rape, murder and detentions in the oil-rich province.

The Angolan army has sent thousands of troops to subdue the Flec separatist movement, which calls for independence.

Last weekend thousands of Cabindans took to the streets demanding autonomy.

It is the first such demonstration to be allowed by the Angolan government in the province.

Culturally distinct

"We're talking about killings, mainly by the armed forces but also by the police," Mpalabanda spokesman Raul Danda told the BBC.

The fact that these abuses are still going on shows that the situation in Cabinda has not improved
Raul Danda
Mpalabanda civic group
"We're talking about women and children being raped, we're talking about putting people in jail only because they are from Cabinda," he said.

The report called The Reign of Impunity details a series of alleged human rights abuses since September 2003, and it says the violations are continuing.

The government was not immediately available for comment.

Mpalabanda has widespread support from Cabindan civilians, most of whom want independence.

The province does not share a border with the rest of Angola - it is sandwiched between Congo Brazzaville and the Democratic Republic of Congo on Africa's west coast.

Cabindans insist they are also culturally and historically distinct.

Peace solution

And what is also at stake is oil, with Cabinda's crude production accounting for almost half of Angola's total output.

Cabindans say they are culturally and historically distinct

The government has said it wants to keep the province in the fold and it has sent thousands of troops to try to quash the separatist rebellion.

The Mpalabanda report is the third of its kind to be released in the last couple of years, with US lobby group Human Rights Watch also alleging similar abuses last December.

As Mr Danda said: "The fact that these abuses are still going on shows that the situation in Cabinda has not improved".

He called on the government to find a peaceful solution for the province and said that "instead of talking with guns", they should "speak with their mouths".


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