Chiefs Denounce Human Rights Abuses in Angola’s Diamond Areas

A delegation of four traditional leaders representing the northeastern provinces of Lunda-Norte and Lunda-Sul provinces delivered today a petition to the Attorney-General of the Republic, general João Maria Moreira de Sousa, denouncing systematic violations of human rights in the diamond areas.

The petition asks for the re-opening of a preliminary investigation, archived by the Attorney-General’s office last June, on human rights violations exposed by journalist Rafael Marques in his book Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola. The author lodged a criminal complaint against nine generals of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) as moral authors of systematic crimes of torture and assassination committed by guards of their private security company Teleservice. The generals, including the minister of State and head of Intelligence, general Manuel Hélder Vieira Dias “Kopelipa”, are also the owners of private company Lumanhe, the partner of the diamond mining joint-venture Sociedade Mineira do Cuango, in which concession areas much of the crimes take place.

For several years, Rafael Marques has been investigating human rights abuses in the diamond areas. His recent book focuses on the Cuango and Xá-Muteba municipalities, in the Lunda-Norte province, and it details more than 500 torture cases, as well as over 100 assassination cases by members of the Angolan Armed Forces and Teleservice.

“For years we have been terrified by the succession of deaths, the torture of our children and the ever-deepening poverty in our communities, as a result of diamond mining,” the chiefs write in the petition, signed by MwaCapenda Camulemba, Nzovo, Mwanitete and Mwambumba.

The traditional authorities also denounce the main generals’ witness heard by the Attorney General’s Office. “That witness, Mr. Dianhenga Cambamba Ngingi, introduced himself as the King of the Kassanje Lowlands, and the highest traditional authority in the Lundas. He is not a king, and he lied on behalf of the legitimate chiefs. We came forth to denounce him,” said MwaCapenda Camulemba.

In retaliation to the criminal complaint lodged in Angola, the generals filed a criminal complaint against the journalist and his publisher, Tinta da China, for slander and defamation. But the generals, rather than pursuing the case in national courts against their own fellow countryman, flew to Portugal, where the book was published, to persecute the journalist abroad.

“The generals of Teleservice and Sociedade Mineira do Cuango also took that false King to Portugal, to lie in our name. We are also writing to the Portuguese authorities,” the chiefs added.