This is horrible!
May 23 2003
May 23, 2003
Pygmies beg UN for aid to save them from Congo cannibals
By Michael Dynes, Africa Correspondent
PYGMY leaders have called on the UN to set up an international tribunal to put government and rebel fighters from the Democratic Republic of Congo on trial for acts of cannibalism against their people.
Sinafasi Makelo, a representative of Mbuti pygmies, told the UN's Indigenous People's Forum that during the four-year civil war his people had been hunted down and eaten.
"In living memory, we have seen cruelty, massacres, and genocide, but we have never seen human beings hunted down as though they were game animals," he said.
"Pygmies are being pursued in the forests. People have been eaten. This is nothing more, nothing less, than a crime against humanity."
More than 600,000 pygmies are believed to live in the Congo's vast jungles, where they eke out a subsistence existence. Both sides in the war regard them as "subhuman", and believe that their flesh can confer magical powers.
UN human rights activists reported this year that rebels had cooked and eaten at least a dozen pygmies. Some of the worst atrocities took place when the Congolese Liberation Movement, one of the main rebel groups, tried to take the town of Mambasa from the rival Congolese Rally for Democracy last year.
Mr Makelo called on the forum to ask the UN Security Council to recognise cannibalism as a crime against humanity and an act of genocide.
There were reports yesterday of cannibalism against other Congolese in the mineral-rich province of Ituri in the east. Fierce clashes between ethnic Hema and Lendu militias this month are know to have resulted in more than 300 deaths. A mass grave containing the remains of more than 30 men, women and children was found near the town, UN officials said.
Church leaders and residents have accused Lendu militiamen of killing civilians, cutting open their chests, removing hearts, lungs and livers, and eating them.
Father Joseph Deneckere, a Belgian priest who has lived in the Congo since 1970, said that traditional superstitious beliefs, entrenched hatreds and attempts to settle old scores lay behind the atrocities. "Some of the victims had their sexual organs missing after tribal fighters cut them off to use as charms," he said. Tribal fighters had also been seen wandering around the bush with human organs "draped from their weapons". Acquitto Kisembo, a resident of Bunia, the town at the centre of the fighting, said: "The sight of a corpse with a missing liver or heart is horrific, especially when you know those parts were eaten, and that the same could happen to you." UN officials have opened a formal investigation into the allegations, which they describe as credible.
The region remains dangerously tense, despite last week's ceasefire, the UN says. Gunmen with rocket-propelled grenades roam the streets of Bunia. Eighty per cent of the 350,000 inhabitants have fled.
About 750, mostly Uruguayan, UN peacekeepers are stationed there, but they do not have the authority to use lethal force. Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, has asked France to lead an emergency force to stabilise the region. It has agreed to do so, but has insisted that other countries join. Britain, which is considering contributing, says that it is a "stop-gap operation" to reinforce the existing UN contingent.
May 23, '03
There is an Mbuti professor of anthropology at UCLA. He is pictured as a toddler in Turnbulls book "The Forest People"
This is terrible. The book written in the 1950s describes the hatred between the Mbuti and the farmers surrounding the forest. He has insight into the history, but hates "Those Negros". He has no problem with American blacks, some of us have been his students.
I am glad the UN is sending help. Possibly modern civilisation contributed to the worsening of violence in the last 50 years.
The Mbuti are monogamous (by culture anyhow). They used to marry very young. Those who married outside one of the groups (there are groups other that Mbuti) were disowned and not allowed to return, ever. They had no HIV as of 1990. I haven't visited since then so may, if time allows visit my former teacher.
Last edit by pickledpepperRN on May 24, '03