May 12, 2001
Amsterdam, 11 May 2001
"To bring about peace you must first admit there is a war".
The second NIZA conference on peace building in Angola, held in Amsterdam on 11 May 2001, brought together a number of Angolan NGOs and international organizations to review the situation of civil society initiatives in Angola. Frei José Sebastião Manuel, Director of the Centro Cultural Mosaiko, and Mr. Fernando Pacheco, president of the NGO ADRA, spoke about the current challenges facing NGO activities in Angola, and some of the progress achieved.
It was apparent, however, that whereas the struggle between the MPLA and UNITA was on the agenda, the 25-year old war in Cabinda was once again to be ignored. One of the often-mentioned issues were the diamond embargo enforced on UNITA. However, one should realise that war is perpetrated by (at least) two sides and in this case, the Angolan government is freely exploiting the oil reserves of the occupied nation of Cabinda to pursue its war not only with UNITA, but also to fight FLEC/FAC, who control the territory of Cabinda outside the coast and the major cities.
A peace conference on Angola that does not take into consideration the situation of all parties and omits the grave situation of Cabinda, can only be seen as a cynical attempt to draw more aid to that country, while its government continues to waste the natural resources to wage war and keep itself in power.
Mr Franciso Builo of Cabinda drew participants' attention to the deteriorating situation in Cabinda, now that Angola has joined the war in the two Congos, and informed the audience of the recent massacre of civilians in the villages of Seke Mbanza, Sanda Masala, Londe Lubunji, and Maluango. At Konde Lubunji, the Angolan army took hostage the family of the village chief and forced the chief to call the inhabitants hiding in the forest. On their arrival, the women were raped, followed by the killing of the whole village population.
At the closing of the conference, the formation of Angola Watch, a new human rights monitor NGO, was announced. UNPO hopes this new entity will also keep a watchful eye on Cabinda.