In a presentation about human rights from Angola at Elon University School of Law in North Carolina, Rafael Marques de Morais, the director of Maka Angola concluded that the diamond-rich region of the Lundas is still not at peace. There has been a steady rise of extra-judicial killings and the daily torture of villagers and artisanal miners, who often pan for diamonds along the river bed.
The abuses also include the destruction of subsistence farming, the main source of survival for Lundas’ citizens, and other measures, the author noted. Read the entire report in PDF.
Angola is rich in minerals and oil and since the onset of peace in 2002 the country has increased its GDP tenfold. In contrast, more than half the population lives below the poverty line, on less than $1.25 per day, Marques de Morais said.
The presentation attempted to explain how profitable diamond mining, in a peaceful country with such a fast-growing economy, could become the source of so much violence.
“By the same measure, it presents a case study of a legal initiative to reverse the trend, and foster a culture of respect for human rights and justice. It does so by analyzing the political and socio-economic narratives that have sustained the diamond trade in Angola,” according to the document.
Marques de Morais filed criminal complaints against nine Angolan military generals and made arrangements for 10 victims and witness of alleged crimes to travel to Luanda for a hearing on human rights, which began March 5. “Litigation, in the Angolan courts of law, is a promising course of action. It is a surefire way to challenge the current state of affairs, and help society distinguish between the evils of a number of public officials and the state institutions that must be safeguarded from the wrong hands,” the author noted.
The criminal complaints allege that military generals committed crimes against humanity through the country’s armed forces by using a private security company they owned called Teleservice.
Marques de Morais’ alleges that most of the perpetrators of these crimes are from the army’s 75th infantry Brigade, which is tasked with fighting illegal mining and immigration in Cuango, a town in the Lunda Norte province in Angola.