Throughout the Lusaka peace process, the number of incidents involving armed assaults and clashes gradually increased. UNITA rebels denied they were responsible, blaming uncontrolled bandits for much of the violence. Field investigations by Human Rights Watch in July and August 1998 found that although a number of these incidents may have been acts of banditry, the majority were organized and coordinated military operations by UNITA or by government forces.68
International Law Governing the Crisis
Although outright war began in December, military operations had been ongoing in Angola throughout 1998. The conflict in Angola constitutes an internal armed conflict under the laws of war, also known as international humanitarian law. Angola is a party to the Geneva Conventions and its two additional protocols.69 Article 3 common to all four Geneva Conventions sets out fundamental rules applicable to internal armed conflicts that are not subject to suspension under any circumstances, and that are widely accepted as constituting customary international law. Virtually a convention within a convention, common article 3 provides in relevant part:
In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:
(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of the armed forces who have had laid down their weapons and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely,without any adverse distinction founded on race, color, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.
To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(b) taking of hostages;
(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
The 1977 Protocol II additional to the Geneva Conventions is also directed at internal armed conflicts, and elaborates these fundamental guarantees of humane conduct and they should denote two areas of protection of civilians.70 In particular, article 4 of this protocol provides in relevant part:
(1) All persons who do not take a direct part or who have ceased to take part in hostilities, whether or not their liberty has been restricted, are entitled to respect for their person, honour and convictions and religious practices. They shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction. It is prohibited to order that there shall be no survivors.
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, the following acts against the persons referred to in paragraph 1 are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever:
(a) violence to life, health and physical or mental well-being of persons, in particular murder as well as cruel treatment such as torture, mutilation or any form of corporal punishment;
(b) collective punishments;
(c) taking of hostages;
(d) acts of terrorism
(e) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, rape, enforced prostitution and any form of indecent assault;
(f) slavery and the slave trade in all their forms;
(h) threats to commit any of the foregoing acts.
The principle of protection of civilians is at the core of both provisions, and indeed, is fundamental to all humanitarian law. A civilian is anyone who is not a member of the armed forces or of any armed group of a party to the conflict. Included as protected persons are also members of government or insurgent forces who are wounded, sick, seeking to surrender or in captivity. Both Common Article 3 and Protocol II bind all parties to the internal armed conflict, including the insurgent party.71
The government of Angola is also bound by the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the state is a party. That treaty, in article 4(1), provides that states parties may take measures derogating from certain rights "in time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation and the existence of which is officially proclaimed." The governmentof Angola has not declared a state of emergency, however, saying that it still wants its citizens to enjoy their full rights.
Even for rights the derogation of which is permitted, however, any derogation may be only "to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation" and must not "involve discrimination solely on the ground of race, color, sex, language, religion or social origin." Some of the rights that may not be derogated even during a state of emergency include the right to life (article 6), the prohibition of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (article 7), the ban on slavery in all its forms (article 8), and freedom of thought, conscience and religion (article 18).
Killings, Mutilation, Sexual Abuse, and Enslavement by UNITA
UNITA maintained tight control of the people in the areas it controlled and, even when state administration was expanded, continued to prevent the enjoyment of greater freedoms through arbitrary killings, threats, forced conscription, and sexual services. Human Rights Watch collected over one hundred testimonies from Angolans who had survived or witnessed atrocities by UNITA forces in areas ostensibly returned to government control.72 A few of the many examples we gathered follow.
VT was a farmer in Moxico province. He is thirty-two and fled to Zambia in 1998 because of UNITA attacks on villages near Lumbala N'guimbo. He described the following:
UNITA like killing too much. That is why I left Angola to sit here away from my ancestors and friends. UNITA came to our village in June and said it was time you all came with us. We refused and UNITA grabbed my father, wife and grandmother and said-see what we can do. The commander - Col. Consagrado then axed them, saying bullets were too precious. We then knew we would be butchered like goats unless we followed. So we were taken to a base for training in guns. I escaped and fled to Zambia-UNITA is too much of a problem.73
JS is a twenty-seven-year-old farmer. He fled from Cazombo with his wife and walked three days and nights to reach safety.
Before UNAVEM left in June things were good in Cazombo, we had a market and hospital and UNITA left us more or less alone as long as we did not talk about them. We liked the UNAVEM and even the MPLA because they meant the confusion was over. UNITA didn't like this and UNITA would kill if people talked. I know one Kayombo Kamutoka and two other people picked up by UNITA. Kayombo had been asking why UNITA continued to treat people badly. He was told that he was insulting UNITA and he was killed. This happened in April. Three of them were on the line to be killed but one of them, Kabe Branco was saved because his brother-in-law was a UNITA soldier.
The two were tied, blind-folded and stabbed in the neck. They were taken to the forest. People always find dead people in the forests. The soldier in charge of Cazombo is Mulyata. He is Mbundu. The soldiers kill at his orders.74
BC comes from Lovwa, Cazombo. He fled to Zambia in March 1996 after a UNITA attack on his village. He explained that:
In December 1995 the MPLA warned of more war. For us the war began in January 1996. UNITA came at night and surrounded the village, they then killed lots of people. Among those killed were my mother, my uncle, and six brothers and sisters. Those who were not killed were gathered and boys were recruited in the army, old people were shot dead and other boys and girls were asked to carry bullets. Their leader was named Tembetembe, a Mbundu. I was in the bush for four months dancing for UNITA. We used to walk long distances to go and dance at UNITA parties. While in the bush we heard there was war in Luena and UNITA told us that all men would be taken to the front. We escaped that night before we were going to be sent to Luena. It took us six months to get to Jimbe [on the Zambian border] because we didn't know the way.75
In 1998 accounts of UNITA killings increased. On January 4, 1998, a forty-nine-year-old priest, Albino Saluhaco, and two catechists were reportedly killed in Katchiungo, Huambo province. According to witnesses, UNITA burst into themission and abducted the priest and the two catechists, Agostinho Salambila and Sebastião Kalondongo. They allegedly took the three men a short distance, made them sit down on the road, shot them, and mutilated the bodies.76 The attack occurred on the day that the government took control of the village from UNITA.
Five persons were killed in a UNITA attack on Tschiponga on April 7 and a man was executed after being tortured in public on May 6 in Cunhinga.77 In May a worker associated with the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Caetano Kalembella, was axed to death by UNITA in Lumbala Nguimbo. UNITA claimed he had been guilty of witchcraft,78 but UNITA officials had apparently been suspicious of his good relationship with the humanitarian organization.
In Quale district of Malanje province, UNITA reportedly killed civilians on May 1, June 26, July 1, and July 6. Some bodies were reportedly thrown into the Mkuna river while others were left where they were killed.79 In December UNITA military forces briefly occupied the town of Cunje and killed twenty-five civilians; many more who were wounded took refuge in the town's train station.80 Alex Belida, an American journalist, interviewed an elderly man who was a survivor of the massacre. The old man recalled how he and other residents of the town who did not flee the rebel advance took shelter in a derelict railway maintenance facility as Cunje was being shelled by UNITA. The shelling lasted through the night. In the morning, rebel soldiers moved in and discovered the hidden civilians. People tried to tell the rebels they were just innocent civilians hoping to save themselves. He described the massacre:
They were saying we are just people, we are just people. We are not doing anything here. We are just hiding and they [UNITA] said, no, what you are doing here is giving up your life. And they [UNITA] took grenades and started throwing the grenades inside of the hole [the maintenance pit] where they were hiding.81
After the explosions, the man said the rebels opened fire with automatic weapons killing many people. He fled as the shooting began and was shot at,narrowly missing death or injury as a bullet went through his hat. He now lives in fear of another attack.
FF came from the village of Muconda, in Lunda Sul province. In June 1998 UNITA soldiers forced people out of their homes, telling them to leave Muconda. They spent a week walking to Saurimo, travelling by night so as not to get caught by soldiers. In April 1999 FF and thirty other villagers decided to try to go home to fetch food they had left in their fields. When they got home, UNITA caught them. "They beat us all with sticks and guns, then they sat down to eat. When they'd finished their meal their officer told them to kill us, but with knives and machetes, not guns, because he didn't want to waste ammunition."82 Twenty-five of the villagers were killed. FF escaped because he fainted and they thought he was dead.
On April 14, 1999, Save the Children/USA's Kuanza Sul manager António Ferreira and church NGO worker Pastor Manuel Gabriel were killed with axes during an ambush on the Gabela - Sumbe road. Fereira suffered heavy cuts on his jaw, neck, and spine and was pierced in the heart with a pointed instrument. Pastor Gabriel was murdered with sharp objects and his body mutilated. Fereira's body was found under a tree; his shoes, trousers, jacket, and wrist watch had been taken. His Save the Children card was cut into small pieces and his photo disfigured and the pieces spread around him. There was a small circle drawn around him to give the impression that his body was mined.83
Villagers reportedly found two mass graves containing more than ninety bodies in the village of Chipeta, near Kuito on July 19. The bodies, bound with nylon cords, were discovered by local villagers clearing four ditches.84 UNITA had occupied Chipeta for three months until recaptured by government forces in late April. This report, which has not been independently verified, came three days afterJornal de Angola reported an alleged massacre by UNITA of more than fifty people near Huambo.85
UNITA rebels on July 20 briefly occupied the town of Catete, sixty kilometers from Luanda. The rebels killed ten people, four of them civilians, looted possessions from local residents, and took several people hostage.86
Mutilations have not been commonplace in Angola's long history of conflict, but in 1998 an increasing number of reports of mutilation reached Human Rights Watch. The following are three accounts that we have verified. All mutilations have a clear political message: these practices were not gratuitous or the result of intoxication or poor discipline.
* February 27, 1998. The soba of Muenho was detained and tortured by UNITA personnel. Both of his ears were cut off by the attackers, reportedly who were enraged that he had allowed the government flag to fly over his village.87
* July 4, 1998. A Toyota Hilux, a bus, and a Nissan pickup were ambushed on the Saurimo-Lucapa road near the Luo river (Caxiaxia area) by fifty to sixty armed men with assault rifles and in FAA olive-green uniforms and red berets, who spoke Ovimbundu. Seventeen people were killed and seventeen injured. One FAA soldier in the convoy was executed on the spot and his head was deliberately pulverized. One woman was also stabbed with a knife and cut open from her crotch up to her stomach. Two other FAA soldiers and one Angolan National Police men were executed on the spot. One woman and an ANP officer also had their ears chopped off and were told to tell what happened.88
* December 5, 1998. Two men caught by UNITA who said they were FAA scouts had their ears cut off and were sent back to government areas to tell their "comrades" that "we mean business."89
Atrocities Against Children
Children are the frequent targets of brutal, indiscriminate acts of violence by UNITA. Children are murdered, beaten, raped, enslaved for sexual purposes, forced to work, and forced to become UNITA soldiers.
An example of this type of violation is JC, a fifteen-year-old boy who was abducted by UNITA forces near Lubango in late 1997 with six school friends. They were taken through Huambo by UNITA late at night and driven to Bailundo, then to Mavinga and told he was going to Jamba for military training. Three of the boys were killed; Jonnie escaped and headed for Zambia, entering at Shangombo in July 1998. He is living with some distant family members in a refugee camp.
UNITA grabbed us when we were on a trip out of Lubango. We were at Quimba and were then forced into a truck and driven to Huambo and then to Bailundo. UNITA just paid the [government] officials to let us through despite our complaints. We were chained and locked up at night in Bailundo but were told we were to become soldiers. In Mavinga I and three friends, António (thirteen), João (fourteen) and José (fourteen) tried to escape but the other three were caught. I saw them killed with an axe in front of the other boys as a lesson. There must have been sixty of us in total in the truck from Lubangao and Huambo.90
Human Rights Watch obtained many accounts of children being abused in UNITA zones in southern, central, eastern, and northern Angola. A government soldier told Human Rights Watch how he was shocked to find child soldiers firing AK-47's at him in December 1998. He said the children appeared well trained and motivated.91
Women and girls are the primary targets of widespread rape, sexual slavery, and other forms of sexual violence. Although the exact number of those raped willnever be known, testimonies from survivors confirm that sexual violence has been widespread. There were several accounts of women and girls being brutally raped as an immediate punishment for refusing to follow instructions or in retaliation for the acts of others held in captivity.
These crimes, and other forms of sexual violence, are expressly condemned in international humanitarian law. The Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949 and the Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions prohibit rape in both international and internal conflicts.92
The crimes of sexual violence committed by UNITA against women and girls are often accompanied by other forms of violence. Many are forced to work as porters for UNITA and witness their children being abducted or abused.
UNITA's rape and enslavement of women and girls for sex is not only a vicious expression of power over the individual, but also a means of expressing dominance over the community and acts as a reward system for UNITA soldiers and commanders.
The following are some of the testimonies of Angolan and other women who survived or witnessed sexual violence in UNITA areas. MS is a nineteen-year-old woman. She escaped from UNITA areas in July 1998.
UNITA called me for "dancing" and I had to go in 1995. I then was given a dress and told to marry a soldier. He forced himself on me and told me that I would die if I ever complained. Since that time I've wanted to escape. There are many of us - UNITA takes girls from twelve onwards, gives them dresses and then has them cook, farm, love, and dance. We have no choice, if we complain we are beaten. If we try and escape we can be killed or our families suffer. I said I was getting firewood and then I walked to Zambia. I am free from daily abuse now and have choice in what I do.93
GM came to Zambia from Cavungo in 1995 because of the conflict. She explained:
In 1991 UNITA came and picked us up from home in Kayanda to Kameme in the bush. We were forced to carry bullets and if anyone refused they were beaten. We were also forced to dance for UNITA. After dancing we would go to farm. There was no freedom and whenpeople sat down to rest they were asked what they were thinking about. The favorite age group was between twelve and forty-five years. Girls were forced to marry soldiers and those who refused risked their lives. We had no choice. After four years of working with UNITA I finally managed to escape through Jimbe.94
Refugees as well as Angolan women were raped and forced into "marriages" with UNITA officials. A Burundian women, LC, was from September 1997 to June 1998 in the Luão refugee camp in Angola under UNHCR Protection. During this period UNITA soldiers "taxed" the refugees and took a number of women forcefully for sexual services. A Major Vikeya forced three Rwandan refugee women to "marry" him in early 1998.95
The abduction of civilians by UNITA is commonplace. People of all ages are abducted, but abductees and witnesses point to young men, women, and young girls and boys as preferred targets. The soldiers capture individuals and groups to add to their pool of labor for portering, food production, and general tasks. Women and girls are taken as "wives," or sexual slaves, to cook and perform other domestic tasks and for portering of weapons and supplies. One UNITA commander told Human Rights Watch that "[w]omen are our Toyota Hilux. They are four-wheel drive, are comfortable, and have stereo sound."96 Young men and boys are abducted for forced recruitment as soldiers.
In December 1998 two priests and six nuns were reportedly abducted after UNITA took control of Chinguar, Bié province.97 Foreign workers for commercial firms have also been abducted for forced labor or as a political tool to obtain protection or ransom payments or to close down commercial operations. Common Article 3 (1) of the Geneva Conventions forbids the taking of hostages.
On November 8, 1998 UNITA rebels attacked the Yetwene diamond mine which is partly owned by the Canadian company Diamond Works. Eight people were killed, including two British citizens and one Brazilian citizen, and ten people were also abducted. Those who are still missing include: South Africa Doug Larsen, Briton Jason Pope, Wilfred Amoges and Roberto Baptista (both Filipinos),as well as six Angolan workers.98 Initially UNITA categorically denied any involvement, but on December 22, Paulo Lukamba Gato, secretary general of UNITA told Reuters that "[w]e attacked the position but we did not take any hostages."99
In February 1999, UNITA was reported to have kidnapped four foreign employees of a construction company in Mbanza Congo: two Portuguese and two Spaniards.100 On May 12 near Luzamba UNITA claimed to have shot down an Antonov AN-26 and captured its three Russian crew, Alexander Zaitsev, Sergai Chestyakov and Sergei Zakharov, which the rebels claim are in good health but were "mercenaries."101 The U.N. Security Council on May 19 condemned the shooting down of the plane and demanded the release of the captured Russian crew and other foreigners who might have also been taken hostage.102
On July 1 an Antonov-12 aircraft belonging to the private company Savanair crashed in northeastern Angola. According to international press reports the plane was a commercial flight carrying "chicken" and was trying to make an emergency landing when it crashed at Capenda-Camulemba, a town in the diamond-rich Cuango valley of Lunda Norte province. However, UNITA on July 2, claimed that it had shot down the plane, which it said was carrying a "high-level military delegation" and war material and that it was shot down near Xa-Muteba. UNITA also claimed to have captured four Russian crewmen from the flight and a fifth Russian died of severe burns.103
In response to these actions the Russian Foreign Ministry on July 6 urged UNITA to release the crew members of two Russian planes shot down. "We call upon UNITA, its leadership and personally Doctor Savimbi to show a humane approach toward our people and take urgent measures to release them," Vladimir Rakhmanin told a news conference.104
Forced Labor and Forced Recruitment
The distinction between forced labor and recruitment is blurred in UNITA as all services serve a military purpose. ET, a nineteen-year-old described being forced to work for UNITA:
I left UNITA in September 1997. UNITA were taking people to go and dance. I was picked up as one of the dancers and they were teaching us war dances. Those who refused to go for dances were beaten. Then they would enslave them and they would be forced to draw water, collect firewood, and build huts for UNITA.
After dancing they would teach us military things like how to handle a gun and politics. They also taught us to speak Mbundu. If one did not turn up for the Mbundu lessons, they would be beaten up. UNITA picked young people from about twelve years old to go into the bush and dance at UNITA parties and perform any other duties assigned to them. Girls were given dresses and forced to marry UNITA soldiers. They started doing this in 1996 and I decided to leave in December 1996. I lied that I was going to collect firewood. It took nine months to reach the border because I was very hungry and my feet kept swelling due to the walking.
Others I know who were recruited to dance were Kayombo, Kahilu, Muzula, Chinyama and Chiwundu.105
UNITA's initial punishment for lack of obedience was beating. EM ,a twenty-six-year old, described it:
They take off your clothes and make you lie on cement, then they pour water on you and start beating you. They use a hippo's tail to whip andwhen they say you will be given fifty strokes, what they mean is one hundred and so on. They have a building within the camp which they call their prison and after the strokes you are taken to the prison where you are used as slave labor.106
EL also said people were forced to learn the Mbundu language in the base:
They do not want people to use any other language apart from Mbundu. They have schools where Mbundu is taught and all young people are requested to attend lessons. Those who miss, are "taught" a lesson. If one misses for two days, they are picked up together with the family and whipped.107
Imprisonment by UNITA is often in appalling conditions. MC was a former MPLA soldier who was freed on condition that he live in UNITA zones. He had lived in these zones from 1991 to 1997 with no problems. However in July 1997 UNITA came to his hut and accused him of hiding weapons on behalf of the MPLA.
They picked me up with five others and imprisoned us. The prison took the form of a dis-used water tank. We were locked in the tank for seven days without food. There was only a small opening for air. After seven days, they wanted to take us to Cazombo, but we escaped on the way while UNITA were sleeping. They had tied our hands with rope but we untied it with our teeth.108
Eugenio Manuvakola was the UNITA secretary general who was made the scapegoat for having signed the Lusaka Protocol by Jonas Savimbi. Manuvakola was arrested by UNITA troops in February 1995 and handcuffed for a week. He was then sent into a kind of internal exile in what he described as a "camouflaged prison," a hamlet surrounded by policemen. He believes he was kept alive because of the need to be seen occasionally by diplomatic visitors to Bailundo. In December 1995 he was put under house arrest in Andulo and in August 1996 transferred to Bailundo. A year later he escaped with his family to Luanda and described why he left.
I must say nobody can say anything in UNITA. There are many who suffer in silence. That is the truth. In Bailundo I would not be able to say what I am saying here. That is why I am saying that not even I could demand that Dr. Savimbi talk to me...We are just like chickens in the coop that do not know whether the next day they will be taken to the frying pan or whether something else will happen. However chickens contentedly eat their corn every day because they do not know what will happen tomorrow, nor do they care. For human beings this is impossible, we cannot live with the knowledge that tomorrow we will be killed.109
Other Human Rights Abuses
The private property of civilians was frequently pillaged and their homes intentionally burned in violations of the wars of law.110 For example, UNITA killed one civilian and stole forty-eight head of cattle during an attack on Tchilata on March 4. Another such attack by UNITA forces on a village near Chongoroi on March 15 resulted in one killed, two others abducted, and the burning of thirty-five houses and the areas under cultivation.111
UNITA forces also attacked Santa Ana on March 16 and killed five persons, stole livestock, and destroyed the village's crops. On March 18, UNITA forces killed one person and stole 400 head of cattle in Catata. This pattern continued throughout 1998, as did looting of humanitarian aid agencies. An example was the looting of the Lutheran World Federation's (LWF) office in Lumbala Nguimbo. State administration was restored to Lumbala in February 1998, but only lasted until June 16, when the police fled claiming their lives were at risk. JJ who worked for LWF, then described what happened:
On June 23 UNITA announced a meeting for the following morning at 0700. The meeting was chaired by the UNITA secretary. He told people not to run away, that UNITA would select a group of people to work with, and that something would happen soon. This sounded like a threat to many people. On my way home, I met my friends from LWF and they said things were not all right. UNITA had come to demand thekeys for MONUA's compound from LWF. We informed our regional office in Luena that we would soon be cut off.
UNITA put their own armed guard on LWF. I was called into the compound and I was told by UNITA that they were going to work with me and that they were working under the authority of a higher command. They asked me about the radio and I lied to them that it had gone for repair. On June 24, they removed the solar plate, a typewriter and map and asked for the keys to the diesel room. I was scared. On June 25 they forcibly opened nineteen drums of diesel and two drums of oil. I secretly met MONUA and told them we were fleeing. They offered to take us to Cangamba, but we felt we would be at greater risk there.
MONUA itself withdrew by air taking all its assets on June 26. Following their departure UNITA closed the airstrip by putting logs and other obstacles on it. UNITA then continued to loot LWF's premises in Lumbala. On June 28 the radio, door, and window frame was taken and on June 29 the roof, leaving an empty shell - everything was transported out of town. By June 30 Lumbala had become a ghost town, with skeleton buildings. I fled on June 30 knowing that UNITA planned to take me with them to their base.112
Many acts of looting included violence. In Kalenga, a small town near Huambo, UNITA attacked in early November killing six soldiers, taking all the resident's clothes and food and a sixteen-year-old girl.113 When full-scale war resumed in December looting continued and towns like Vila Nova were cleared of any assets by UNITA and booby traps and landmines were left behind.114
In response to a government military offensive against it in early December UNITA launched a counteroffensive. This resulted in the cities of Huambo, Kuito, and Malanje coming under indiscriminate shelling by UNITA. There is no sign that in any of these artillery barrages UNITA was just targeting military positions, butrather the shelling appeared intended to sow fear and demoralize in addition to closing the airports and the access they provided for relief aid. Civilian houses lost roofs, and one church was hit in these attacks. UNITA appears to have used 120mm artillery in these bombardments.
In December 1998 UNITA shelled Huambo sporadically till early January 1999, killing at least eight people. UNITA began shelling Huambo again in mid-June 1999, killing three civilians and forcing its airport to close for some days.115 In December UNITA also besieged Kuito and occupied three small towns, Cantão, Catama, and Chilonda from which the rebels bombarded Kuito with long-range artillery. UNITA artillery opened up on Kuito on December 8. The shelling became more intensive over Christmas, on December 24 and 25, and on December 26 a shell hit a Roman Catholic Church in the suburb of Cangoti, killing thirty-one people and injuring thirty-six who had been in the church seeking refuge.116 The twenty-three day shelling of Kuito ended on January 1 when government forces pushed UNITA out of Cantão, Catama, and Chilonda. By the time the siege had ended, 150 civilians were reported to have been killed and hundreds injured in Kuito, and the city had been cutoff from aid supplies, relying on government airdrops of medical and emergency supplies to keep going.117 UNITA resumed its shelling of Kuito in late March with an average of three shells a day being fired at Kuito.118 This halted aid flights to the besieged city, and food supplies in the city remain low.119
On January 4, 1999 UNITA started shelling Malanje and throughout February and March UNITA's shelling of the city intensified, with heavy shelling almost on a daily basis in March. This shelling initially appeared aimed to be at the city's heavily populated market places in an attempt to force civilians to flee.120 On February 23 and 24 UNITA shelling of Malanje resulted in four people killed and eight wounded.121 The bishop of Malanje has reported that more than 1000 people have been killed and 700 injured in Malanje by the shelling. On one occasion inlate March over a hundred shells landed in the city.122 Because of UNITA's siege, Malanje has suffered from a lack of food, with supplies only for 94,000 of the more than 200,000 people displaced by the fighting elsewhere who have swelled its population. The city had a population of 400,000 prior to the renewed fighting. After a government offensive, shelling of Malanje practically stopped for a period after April 9, but resumed again later in the month.
Reuters and BBC World Service journalist Lara Pawson visited Malanje in late April and was an eyewitness to the shelling. She described to Human Rights Watch what she saw:
The next morning [April 23] around 11 a.m. shelling started again, targeted at the northern suburb of Bairro Rotunda. Eleven or twelve shells were fired over the next forty minutes. After the shelling finished I went up to Rotunda with an Angolan journalist, Herculano. The first house we got to was completely flattened by one of these shells. As it was made of wood and mud brick, there was little left of it and I saw remains of a women of forty. I'm told she was mother to eight children. A cousin of hers (twenty-five- year old man) was also killed by this shell - his right leg had been blown right off. In Rotunda as we walked around people kept popping their heads up from holes they had dug in the ground. People in Rotunda were so used to UNITA's shelling that they had become like rabbits digging out a rabbit warren of holes to try to protect themselves from the shells. We went to the hospital and found twenty civilians badly injured by this shelling - most would not survive as there was no blood for them.
I tried to leave Malanje the next day but my departure was delayed because UNITA shelled a market place, killing a number of people. UNITA knows where the civilians are and targets them.123
UNITA's shelling of Malanje has continued in July. Heavy shelling by UNITA on June 22 and 23 resulted in forty people killed and sixty wounded.124 The residential districts of Maxinde and Kassala were targeted. According to Catholicpriest Manuel Viana the shelling started at five in the afternoon on June 22 and was targeted at residential areas.125 The catholic bishop of Malanje on June 24 urged the government and rebels to enter into dialogue to stop the shelling.126 It seems that UNITA has made a effort not to damage the city's infrastructure, as residential suburbs appear to be the main target.
In northern Angola, the provincial capital Mbanza Congo fell to UNITA forces on January 26, although the government claimed it was recaptured in mid-February. Mbanza Congo contains a UNESCO World Heritage Monument, the 500-year old Church of São Salvador, which has reportedly been badly damaged by rebel shelling and bombing by the government's airforce.127 There have been an undisclosed number of civilian casualties.
The killing and wounding of unarmed civilians through indiscriminate shelling is a breach of article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.
Killing of Government Officials
Government officials increasingly became a target for UNITA attacks in 1998. According to Amnesty International, at least forty people, including more than twenty unarmed police officers, were killed in May, with dozens of others injured or missing. These figures represented an alarming 50 percent increase since January 1998.128
For example, UNITA attacked the villages of Tchicoco and Lussoloe on February 28, killing four policemen, three of whom were burned alive in their grass huts. On March 28, 1998 UNITA killed fourteen policemen in Base Porto, possibly as part of a campaign that resulted in approximately 200 known killings of police officers by UNITA forces, including one incident near Cuito Cuanavale in which eighteen officers were seized and executed. In July in Bié, three policemen "disappeared," and UNITA warned that more would be targeted if they tried to educate people about the government.129
In December UNITA forces began the occupation of the towns of Camapuca, Catabola and Chiguar and reportedly killed numerous government officials andsuspected government "collaborators," in some cases by driving over them with tanks.130
Killings of Traditional Chiefs
During the Lusaka peace process, Sobas, the traditional chiefs, began in some rural areas to play a more prominent role in community affairs as the government's military and UNITA loosened their grip. These gains were short-lived. By late 1997 sobas were once more under immense pressure to be compliant with UNITA's military. Any show of independence often resulted in punishment and even death. The U.N. reported having confirmed that at least twenty sobas were killed in a four month period in 1998. UNITA killed the soba of Caninguil on June 27 in a public execution in which fourteen men between the ages of twenty-five and twenty-seven were killed. Soba Albert Tome was killed on August 26 in Njimbo when UNITA forces kidnapped sixteen military-age males.131 UNITA forces killed the soba of Chimbili Luciano Cagnala on July 17. Sobas in Chimbaca, Yeyele, Cassoma, and Camaue also were killed, reportedly by UNITA forces, in the same period. The soba of Cota was killed on June 12, allegedly by the local UNITA military commander, Mulemba, who forced him to lie on the ground, beat him, and then shot him nine times. Five civilians were abducted following the execution; one of them escaped and reported that the killing was an act of revenge for the soba's disarming of local UNITA sympathizers in December 1997.132 The sobas of Poluesque, Kitumba, Samba Lucala, Lomaun, and Santa Teresa reportedly were abducted and killed between June and August.
In 1999 UNITA reportedly continues to target sobas. For example, in April UNITA troops reportedly killed a soba in the village of Gimba Filiji, thirteen kilometers east of Kuito, for refusing to help draft local youths into UNITA ranks.133
Lack of Freedom of Movement
Some 4,000 people remained trapped by UNITA in its former headquarters in Jamba in the south, where conditions were very bad, with food and medicine scarce. Although UNITA claimed it had invited the international community toevacuate them, in effect UNITA refused to allow civilians to move out of UNITA zones. There was increasing evidence during 1997 that UNITA was also using Jamba for military training and that illegal flights carrying weapons and other supplies were landing there. The Namibian authorities exacerbated the plight of Jamba civilians by keeping its border near Jamba closed, fearful that an open border would permit a mass exodus of Jamba residents onto Namibian soil. However, in December 1997 there were some signs of progress on the Jamba issue and several hundred people were handed over to International Organization for Migration (OIM) for repatriation to their home areas.
Freedom of movement remained rare. Free circulation of people and goods continued to be restricted through the maintenance of illegal checkpoints and the escalation of acts of banditry in various areas of the country.
As a result of delays in implementing the peace process and insecurity, some 300,000 Angolan refugees in neighboring countries were not repatriated, although several thousand returned to Angola independently. An estimated million or more people displaced people inside Angola were also unable or unwilling to return to their homes, particularly in rural areas, because of insecurity although the U.N. estimates that a further 1 million internally displaced people had returned home since the Lusaka Protocol.
Cazombo Case Study
The experience of Cazombo illustrates the way in which U.N. and NGO assistance can bring about improvements in respect for human rights. In Cazombo people were fatigued of conflict, many had returned from exile as refugees, and there was an abundance of energy to rebuild their lives and community. In 1998 there were some positive signs that even UNITA officials saw this and were beginning to relax their control.134
Cazombo is in eastern Moxico province near the Zambian border. UNITA had mined all the incoming roads and blown up the bridges over nearby rivers making the town completely isolated. After the Lusaka Accords, UNHCR established a program in the town to encourage the return of refugees who had fled to Zambia. The road to Zambia was demined, the municipal hospital and several schools rehabilitated, and Lutheran World Federation and the Jesuit Refugee Service set up joint programs. As a result the town doubled in population and a lively trade in fish and game meat developed with Zambia.
In February 1998 the Angolan government extended its control to Cazombo town under the terms of the peace process, but the government never attempted to administer the rest of the district. The municipal administrator left in March, and the teachers and nurses and newly installed national police went unpaid. The town de-facto reverted to UNITA control. The vice- administrator, Romeu Canhemba, who had been de-facto administrating the town for UNITA for the last twenty years took over. An initial stand-off with the Angola National Police was resolved when they peacefully agreed to hand over their guns to the U.N. for safekeeping. Even so, they surrounded their premises with landmines.
By May, the only sign that Cazombo was under government control was inside the administrator's office, where a portrait of President dos Santos hung next to the one of Jonas Savimbi. The only national flag in Cazombo was kept in the same office out of sight, while on the streets UNITA symbols, flags and murals with UNITA pronouncements were everywhere. The police kept to their police station and UNITA in effect continued to administer the town, taxing trade in money or in kind. Young people were sent for UNITA military training and UNITA was in firm control. The police on arrival had distributed some T-shirts with "Republica Popular de Moxico" written on them: those who wore them were immediately punished by UNITA - made to porter military supplies.
The February to May period was, however, seen by many residents as a time of liberalization and greater tolerance, although freedom of expression remained a dead letter. A number of people interviewed by Human Rights Watch attested to a decline in authoritarian demands upon them by UNITA's military which they attributed to the presence of outside witnesses and strong popular support for liberalization.
This period was short-lived. The ANP received reports of a UNITA attack on Luau and decided to flee Cazombo on June 14. On June 22 violence erupted: UNITA militants encouraged the looting of the Lutheran World Federation warehouse and the home of the agency's coordinator was burnt down. In this looting a lot of cooking oil was stolen which was trucked by UNITA's military commander to Solwezi in Zambia on two trips and sold in the markets there.135 Shortly afterwards the U.N. withdrew its Cazombo team. In this period many people fled to the bush and a number decided to go to Zambia. One women said she fled because she had registered her name with the police for permission to flee with her family to Luanda. She had heard that UNITA would kill all people whose names were on the register, which the police had left behind when they fled.Another person felt at risk and fled to Zambia because she had been a cleaner for the police.
In early July UNITA's military became more aggressive, demanding more people for training and confiscating possessions such as bicycles, causing more people to flee. However, the UNITA administrator bravely criticized the military and called people to return. In late July the administrator declared Cazombo town a peace zone and was assisted by Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in keeping the hospital and schools running; the UNITA military just ignored him, continuing to prey upon a ready pool of recruits for their labor demands.
A government Su-23 dropped one bomb outside the town in early November intended to make the population disperse. It achieved its objective, as people fled to Zambia once again. In early December UNITA's military looted what was left and Cazombo again became a ghost town.
69 The Republic of Angola has ratified the following principal human rights, humanitarian law, and refugee law treaties: the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (and its first Optional Protocol), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child, the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and its first Additional Protocol, and the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
70 In early 1999 a colonel from the Angolan armed forces working with the FAA's Division of Doctrine and Training traveled to Geneva to attend a two-week ICRC course in international humanitarian law and a one-week seminar on curriculum development. The ICRC hopes he will collaborate in incorporating international humanitarian law into within the training of the Angolan armed forces."Update No.99/03 on ICRC activities in Angola," June 22, 1999.
71 The commitment of a state to these provisions applies also to private individuals in that state's territory who are thereby bound by the same rights and obligations. International Committee of the Red Cross, Commentary on the Additional Protocols of 1977 (Geneva: International Committee of the Red Cross, 1987) p.1345, para.4444.The government's application of these provisions does not confer on the insurgents any international recognition on the insurgent party. Nor do Common Article 3 and Protocol II provide any special status for insurgents in internal armed conflict such as the combatants privilege to kill or capture enemy troops, or prisoner-of-war status when captured. Ibid, p.1344, paras 4439, 4440.
72 The names of all refugees interviewed have been changed in order to protect their safety and privacy.
73 Human Rights Watch interview, Zambia, July 26, 1998.
74 Human Rights Watch interview, Zambia, July 25, 1998.
75 Human Rights Watch interview, Zambia, July 25, 1998.
76 Human Rights Watch interview, Luanda, August 26, 1998.
77 Human Rights Watch interview, Luanda, August 24, 1998.
78 Human Rights Watch interview, Zambia, July 25, 1998.
79 Human Rights Watch interview with UNITA, Luanda, August 27, 1998.
80 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with eye witness, January 15, 1999.
81 Voice of America, report number 2-246178, March 3, 1999.
82 Independent (London), May 13, 1999.
83 SCF/USA, "The Incident of the Ambush on Save the Children Vehicle on April 14, 1999 Kuanza Sul, Angola," SCF/USA report. Four other Angolans were shot on the spot. The report concludes that UNITA had been responsible for this massacre.
84 Reuters, July 19, 1999. The U.N. secretary-general issued a statement following the report of this massacre saying: "The Secretary-General is deeply distressed by press reports concerning the discovery of two mass graves in the Chipeta village in Cuito province in Angola. Due to the deterioration of the security situation, the United Nations does not have any presence in the area and it cannot, at this stage, confirm these reports. The Secretariat is attempting to obtain further information or confirmation before making any other comment." M2 PRESSWIRE, 07/21/1999.
85 Jornal de Angola (Luanda), July 16, 1999.
86 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with eyewitness from Catete, July 27, 1999.
87 Human Rights Watch interview, Luanda, August 26, 1998.
89 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with eyewitness in Huambo hospital, January 10, 1999.
90 Human Rights Watch interview, Zambia, July 23, 1998.
91 Human Rights Watch interview, London January 16, 1999.
92 Rape in internal armed conflict is prohibited under article 3, subparagraph (c), common to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and by Article 4(e) of Protocol II.
93 Human Rights Watch interview, Zambia, July 26, 1998.
94 Human Rights Watch interview, Zambia, July 25, 1998.
95 Human Rights Watch interview, Zambia, July 25, 1998.
96 Human Rights Watch interview, Angola, August 1998.
97 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Catholic church source, Luanda, January 5, 1999.
98 Daily Telegraph (London), January 8, 1999.
99 The British and South African governments have tried to contact UNITA in an attempt to obtain the release of the hostages. On December 2, 1998 Njuguna Mahugu, then chairman of the U.N.'s Angola Sanctions Committee responded to a note verbale (No.485) from Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's Permanent Representative to the U.N. by approving an exemption for contact with UNITA by Britain. South Africa sought an exemption in July 1999 from the U.N.
100 BBC online network, February 20, 1999, available at:
101 Anna Richardson of the DPA newsagency in Luanda reported that an investigation of this plane crash had shown that it had crash landed after engine failure, London, July 2, 1999.
102 See, S/PRST/1999/14 and press release SC 6681 of May 19, 1999.
103 Agence France-Presse news agency, July 1, 1999; Diário de Noticias (Lisbon), July 3, 1999. According to the UNITA statement the five Russians were Toudov Alexandre, Gmyziney Italia, Lattesko Maxim, Kaxine Vladimir and Trogo Vpos Alexi - who died from burns.
104 AP, July 6, 1999.
105 Human Rights Watch interview, Zambia, July 25, 1998.
106 Human Rights Watch interview, Zambia, July 26, 1998.
107 Human Rights Watch interview, Zambia, July 25, 1998.
108 Human Rights Watch interview, Zambia, July 25, 1998.
109 Jornal de Angola (Luanda), August 28, 1997.
110 Geneva Convention Protocol II, Article 4 (2) (g), of June 8, 1977.
111 Human Rights Watch interviews, Luanda, August 27, 1998.
112 Human Rights Watch interview, Zambia, July 23, 1998.
113 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with journalist Bram Posthumus, who interviewed the administrator, Amsterdam, January 5, 1999.
114 Jornal de Noticias (Lisbon), January 21, 1999.
115 Lusa (Macão), June 23, 1999.
116 Lusa (Macão) , December 26, 1998; Human Rights Watch telephone interview, Kuito, January 3, 1999.
117 Guardian (London), February 25, 1999.
118 United Nations Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Unit (UCAH), Humanitarian Situation in Angola: Reporting period: 8 to 15 April 1999,p.1 at www.reliefweb.int, April 22, 1999.
119 AP, March 26, 1999.
120 Human Rights Watch telephone interview, Malanje, February 3, 1999; RAP International TV, Lisbon, in Portuguese 1830 get, January 6, 1999.
121 Lusa (Macão), February 24, 1999.
122 Human Rights Watch interview with Lara Pawson, London, June 16, 1999.
124 According to Jorge Sasassa, coordinator of the Committee of Solidarity with Malanje (CSAM), 600 patients were admitted to Malanje hospitals with wounds from shelling between June 20 and 25. Agence France Presse, June 29, 1999.
125 Público (Lisbon), June 24, 1999.
126 Agence France Presse, June 24, 1999
127 Público (Lisbon), February 13, 1999.
128 Amnesty International, "Public Statement: Angola: Hopes of reconciliation jeopardized as cycle of violence spirals," AI Index: AFR 12/06/98. June 1, 1998.
129 Human Rights Watch interview, Luanda, August 27, 1998.
130 U.S. Department of State, "Angola," Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1998.
131 Human Rights Watch interview, Luanda, August 26, 1998.
132 Domingos Fernando, José Hawango, Domingos Kubindame, Luís Bande were reported killed.
133 Lusa (Macão), April 21, 1999.
134 Human Rights Watch interviews in Zambia in July and Luanda in August with additional telephone interviews in Zambia in December 1998.
135 Human Rights Watch saw the cooking oil for sale in Solwezi main market in July 1998.