UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Deteriorating crisis largely ignored - Amnesty
NAIROBI, 25 March (IRIN) - In response to what it calls a deteriorating human rights crisis largely ignored by the international community, Amnesty International on Thursday urged governments and intergovernmental organisations to "wake up to the gravity of the crisis" in Congo-Brazzaville and to take "immediate measures to bring it to an end".
In a report received by IRIN, Amnesty said government forces and armed opposition groups in the Republic of Congo had perpetrated grave human rights abuses, with hundreds of unarmed civilians killed from late 1998 to early 1999 alone. Most of the civilian victims of the abuses - which also include abductions, torture and arbitrary arrests - were targeted on the basis of their political or ethnic affiliation, it said.
Amnesty said more than 10,000 unarmed civilians had been executed since 1992 by government forces and armed groups. The abuses were largely the result of power struggles between the country's political leaders, including President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, former president Pascal Lissouba and former prime minister Bernard Kolelas.
Over the past few months, combatants have also raped women and deliberately wounded civilians, the report said. Since late 1998, thousands of civilians have fled into the forests where they have been exposed to further human rights abuses as well as to disease and hunger, it said. Troops from Angola and Chad as well ex-Forces armees rwandaises (FAR) elements supporting government forces were also responsible for abuses against civilians, Amnesty said.
In the Pool region, Kolelas-allied Ninja militia were reportedly preventing displaced civilians from returning to Brazzaville, the report added. UNHCR on Wednesday cited sources in the area as saying the Ninja were pressuring displaced people not to cross the border into the DRC. About 20-30 people a day were now arriving in the DRC from the Pool region, many in poor physical health, UNHCR said in its latest Great Lakes update received by IRIN.
Meanwhile, news agencies said almost all the 80,000-100,000 inhabitants of Dolisie in the Bouensa region of southern Congo had fled the town as a result of a January conflict between government forces and Lissouba-allied Cocoye militia. An army spokesman told Reuters on Wednesday that a team of firemen and civil protection workers had begun cleaning up the town, including removing the remains of people and animals killed in the fighting.
Date: Thu, 25 Mar 1999 17:41:26 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Congo-brazzaville: Deteriorating crisis largely ignored-Amnesty
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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