The Genocide Prevention Center publishes reports to highlight strong indicators
and dangers of potential genocide in remote areas. The Angola report is
an aberration because while there is a civil war, there are no strong indicators
of genocidal activity. It is useful, however, as a tool to note how civil
and human rights abuses and war crimes committed during a civil conflict
may still bear no ear markings of genocide.
of the Conflict
There has been a civil war raging in Angola since 1975. The origins of the
conflict can be traced to the 1960s when intellectuals organized liberation
movements to achieve independence from Portugal. The War of Independence
began on February 4, 1961 when the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation
of Angola) attacked the São Paulo fortress and police headquarters
in Luanda. The war spread throughout the country as two additional independence
movements, the FNLA (Frente Nacianal de Libertacao de Angola) and the UNITA
(Uniao Nacianal para a Independencia Total de Angola) fought in the north
and south, respectively. Following a prolonged armed struggle, Portugal
conceded independence to Angola on November 11, 1975.
Following the War of Independence, a civil war broke out between the MPLA
and the UNITA over control of the country and its abundant resources. Angola
became caught up in the Cold War as the United States and South Africa supported
the UNITA while the Soviet Union and Cuba supported the MPLA. The MPLA founded
the People’s Republic of Angola in Luanda while the UNITA and FNLA founded
the Popular Democratic Republic of Angola in Huambo.
During the 1970s and 80s, there was a low-intensity bush war. The end of
the Cold War had significant effect on the conflicting parties, as the external
actors stopped supporting the MPLA and the UNITA and engaged in negotiating.
After a series of meetings mediated by the US, Soviet Union, and Portugal,
a cease-fire was finally signed in 1991. The Estoril Peace Accord between
the government and UNITA governed ceasefire, mutual disarmament and elections.
Elections were held on September 29 and 30, 1992. The MPLA gained a parliamentary
majority but the presidential outcome was very close between MPLA leader
José Eduardo dos Santos and UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi, making a
second round necessary. Despite the fact that the United Nations observed
the first round of elections and declared them "basically free and
fair", Savimbi declared them to be fraudulent and left Luanda before
the second round of elections could take place. The fights resumed and between
April 1991 and May 1991 an estimated 100,000 to 350,000 people died in the
conflict. (www.oneworld. org/ globalwitness/reports/Angola)
Between late 1992 and 1994, the worst fighting took place in Angola. In
a period of 8 months 182,000 people died. By late 1993 the UNITA gained
control over 70% of the territory of Angola. (www.oneworld.org/ globalwitness/
reports/Angola) On November 20, 1994, the two sides signed the internationally
negotiated Lusaka Protocol. According to Human Rights Watch, the Lusaka
Protocol provided for a cease-fire, the integration of UNITA generals into
the government’s armed forces (which were to become nonpartisan and civilian
controlled), demobilization under U.N. supervision, the repatriation of
mercenaries, the incorporation of UNITA troops into the Angolan National
Police under the Interior Ministry, and the prohibition of any outside police
or surveillance organization.
After four years of uneasy peace Savimbi abandoned the peace accord and
the civil war resumed in 1998. Since 1998 localized guerilla warfare has
characterized the conflict. "Angola’s war, which resumed in earnest
in 1998, has claimed at least 500,000 lives and displaced some 4 million
people out of the total population of 12 million". (Mail and Guardian,
May 9, 2001) As of June 2001, "security conditions remain serious in
the provinces of Benguela, Bie, Huambo, Kuando Kubango, Kwanza Norte, Malanje,
Moxico, and Uige. The security situation in these provinces is characterized
by ambushes, attacks, kidnappings, mine explosions, looting of civilian
goods, and threats against humanitarian workers and organizations."
( U.S. Agency for International Development, Bureau for Humanitarian Response
Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance)
The civil war in Angola is fueled by a power struggle between the government
MPLA and the UNITA
1) Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (Movimento Popular de Libertaçao
de Angola – MPLA) led by José Eduardo dos Santos, the current president
of the state.
The MPLA, a Marxist party, was founded by Africans and mixed-race mesticos
in 1956 and had a strong following in the Angolan capital among the Creole
population. This was to be crucial in the MPLA’s seizure of power in 1975.
The MPLA was at first led by Antonio Neto and, after his death, by Eduardo
2) Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Uniao Nacional para a Independencia
Total de Angola – UNITA) led by Jonas Savimbi.
The UNITA was formed in 1966 by Jonas Savimbi. The UNITA is supported by
illiterate peasants and emphasizes ethnic (Ovimbundo) and rural rights in
contrast with the urbanized Marxism of the MPLA. The UNITA was also considered
to be ‘Maoist’ in the sense that Savimbi used Mao’s techniques to fight
a guerrilla war.
1) National Front for the Liberation of Angola (Frente Nacional de Libertacao
de Angola- FNLA)
The FNLA was formed in 1957 by Holden Roberto and a group of Bakongo nationalists.
It was predominantly a northern-based party, with an ethnic base among the
Bakongo people. The FNLA formed an alliance with the UNITA, announcing the
formation of the Democratic Republic of Angola.
2) Unita Renovada led by Eugenio Manuvakola
3) Platform for Understanding led by Abel Chivukuvuku
4) Frente para a Libertacao do Enclave de Cabinda (FLEC)
5) Angolan Party for Democratic Support (PADPA)
Frequent Civilian Casualties
The 25-year Angolan civil war has caused the death of numerous civilians.
The US. Committee for Refugees estimates that 1 million people have been
killed since the mid-1970s. (USAID, Complex Emergency Situation Report)
Civilians have died as a result of indiscriminate shelling and both arbitrary
and deliberate killings. Human Rights Watch argues that the UNITA has been
primarily responsible for civilian casualties, whereas Amnesty International
maintains that both the government and UNITA have carried out atrocities.
Since the resumption of fighting in 1998, the war has been reported to take
"a heavy toll on the civilian population." (Amnesty International
2000 World Report) In concert with this statement, Edwin Van Der Borght,
of Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) reports: "And
if you speak to the people … they will tell you that the conflict has
never been so violent against them as over the past two years." (CNN,
April 6 2001) Hence, the Genocide Prevention Center decided to examine the
present state of the Angolan civil war and determine whether the atrocities
committed against civilians are of a genocidal nature.
The following are examples of civilian casualties during the civil war due
largely to warfare. These do not bear strong indicators of genocide.
Casualties in 2001
Date: March 14, 2001
Seven people were killed and six wounded during an attack by the UNITA on
the outskirts of the city Benguela. The report did not mention if the casualties
constituted civilians or soldiers.(IRIN, Wednesday 14 March, 2001)
Date: March 16, 2001
At least sixteen people were killed when the UNITA attacked the town of
Calomboloca, about 80 km from Luanda. According to the report, a number
of rebels died among civilians in the fighting. (IRIN, Friday 16 March,
Date: May 5, 2001
Victims: over 100
UNITA forces attacked the town of Caxito, near Luanda, killing over 100
people and kidnapping 60 children, who were later released. The report did
not specify if the victims were all civilians or soldiers. (IRIN, Friday
11 May, 2001)
Place: Namibian border
Date: May 11, 2001
UNITA rebels attacked an Angolan military base near the Namibian border.
As a result, one civilian was killed and two government soldiers injured.
(IRIN, Friday 11 May, 2001)
Date: May 15, 2001
20 civilians were killed and 12 were injured on Friday in an ambush near
the northern town of Cacuso during a UNITA attack. (IRIN , Tuesday 15 May,
Place: Golungo Alto
Date: May 22, 2001
The UNITA attacked the town of Golungo Alto, which triggered a stream of
refugees. (BBC, Tuesday 22 May 2001)
Date: June 11, 2001
22 civilians were killed and 17 injured when their vehicle ran over an anti-tank
mine, which exploded near Catala in Angola’s northern Malanje province.(IRIN,
Monday 11 June, 2001)
Place: Buengas, Buenga Sul, Cuilo Cambozo, Malanje, Cuanze Sul, Huambo
Date: June 19, 2001
UNITA forces captured several towns – Buengas, Buenga Sul, Cuilo Camobzo
– and attacked the northern provinces of Bengo, Malanje, Cuanze Sul and
Huambo. (IRIN, Tuesday 19 June, 2001)
Date: June 26, 2001
Victims: 34 injured
The UNITA attacked the provincial capital of Uige and injured 34 people
during a five-hour gun battle with government troops. The report did not
clarify if the victims were civilians or soldiers. (BBC, Tuesday 26 June,
Date: June 29, 2001
UNITA rebels killed 12 civilians and injured 10 others in an attack on a
supply convoy near the city of Malanje, east of the capital Luanda. (IRIN,
Friday 29 June, 2001)
Place: near Jungo
Date: July 12, 2001
A commercial truck was attacked near Jungo, which resulted in the death
of 11 civilians. (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs,
July 25, 2001)
Place: between Ukua and Quibaxe
Date: July 12, 2001
Armed groups attacked another commercial vehicle 20 km from Ukua in the
direction of Quibaxe, killing six civilians. (UN Office for the Coordination
of Humanitarian Affairs, July 25, 2001)
Place: between Caluquembe and Matala and Quibaxe
Date: July 16, 2001
During an ambush on the road between Chipipa and Bailundo three civilians
were killed and five wounded. (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs, July 25, 2001)
Date: July 17, 2001
According to IRIN, 70 civilians were killed and 15 wounded in an armed attack
in the diamond-mining town of Chinguvu. The attackers were identified as
members of the UNITA. (IRIN, Tuesday July 17, 2001)
Additional Human Rights Violations Present in the Civil War
Forcible recruitments of adults and children
According to the Amnesty International 2000 Report, the UNITA continued
its forced recruitment of children and adults. The UNITA reportedly kidnapped
8 tribal chiefs from Quimozengou and Quichiona because they failed to recruit
soldiers for the rebels. Human Rights Watch reported that the UNITA abducted
80 children from Mbanza Congo in order to train them as soldiers. (Human
Rights Watch Report, 2001)
Although deliberate mutilations have not been widespread, the number of
incidents has increased during 2001. (Human Rights Watch Report, 2001) It
is hard to confirm the identity of the perpetrators, however UNITA allegedly
has been responsible for cutting off ears and hands. Amnesty International
reported that in March 2000, UNITA members mutilated the ears, arms and
legs of 12 independent miners in Tchinguvo, Lunda Norte province, and murdered
40 others. (Amnesty International, Human Rights Abuses with Small Arms)
"Accounts of torture were not commonplace but were sufficient to suggest
that the rebels used torture to attempt to extract information, especially
from individuals thought to have military knowledge about the government’s
intentions." (Human Rights Watch World Report, 2001)
Although the Angolan government advocated the international landmine treaty
it has never ratified it. The BBC reported that Angola was at greater risk
than ever as both the government and UNITA engaged in deploying landmines
early this year. (BBC, May 3 2001) There are different estimates regarding
the number of landmines and amputees. According to John Prendergast, Angola
has an estimated 10 million land mines and up to 100,000 amputees. (Prendergast,
Angola’s Deadly War: Dealing with Savimbi’s Hell on Earth) The UN estimated
the number of landmines to be 7 million.(BBC, May 6, 2000) The presence
of landmine victims in Angola is very striking as David Shukman observed
"..during the next 10 minutes I saw no fewer than nine disabled people.
Nearly one a minute, on an ordinary street on a typical weekday morning.
No wonder the total number of landmine victims in Angola is unknown – it’s
beyond counting." (BBC, May 6 2000)
As a consequence of resumed fighting, waves of refugees were fleeing Angola
in 2001. UNITA rebel attacks in Uige province have driven as many as 7,400
people into the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo. (IRIN, March
5 2001) Between 60 and 70 Angolan refugees were entering Zambia every day
through the border town of Mwinilunga. (IRIN, April 19 2001).
As of May 2001, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
reported that 430,781 Angolans were refugees in other countries. (USAID
Angola – Complex Emergency Situation Report )
Democratic Republic of the Congo: 179,550
Republic of Congo 18,515
South Africa 3,902
in other countries 839
Internally displaced people
Continued warfare forced Angolans to flee from their homes and set up residence
in IDP camps. At present, it is impossible to estimate accurately the number
of IDPs. The US Committee for Refugees reported that the number of internally
displaced Angolans ranged from 1 million to 3.5 million people. (USCR: Country
Report) According to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, the number
of internally displaced persons grew to an estimated 2.5 million, approximately
20 percent of the total population of Angola.
In 2001, ongoing military activity has led to displacements from the areas
of Cambandua, Chicala, Nhareia, Camacupa and Kuninga (Belo Horizonte) into
the provincial capital, Kuito. As a result, an additional 15,500 displaced
families arrived from December to February in Kuito.(IRIN, March 7 2001)
Targeting humanitarian assistance
The UNITA has been reportedly targeting humanitarian assistance in Angola.
On April 30, 2000 a U.N. World Food Program convoy was attacked 85 kilometers
from Lobito. On August 9, 2000 the U.N. denounced an armed attack on Catete
that resulted in the deaths of a humanitarian worker and three other civilians.
(Human Rights Watch, World Report, 2000)
Assaults against humanitarian assistance continued in 2001. In the middle
of June 2001, the UN warned that humanitarian operation in Angola were at
risk. The UN food agency cancelled humanitarian flights to Angola after
its aircraft was attacked by UNITA missiles in early June. The spokesman
for UNITA, Joffre Justino, initially maintained that " the planes were
legitimate targets," but later said it " was not deliberately
targeting humanitarian flights". Despite a lack of safety guarantees
for its planes, the UN has since resumed its flights in order to avoid a
humanitarian catastrophe. The UN food agency helps about one million people
in Angola whose lives would be endangered without food aid. (BBC, June 21,
Violation of the Freedom of the Press
Violation of the freedom of the press has been characteristic in Angola.
The government passed a law in August 1999 that advocates harsh punishment
for defamation. In consequence the government has repeatedly threatened
independent journalists criticizing the MPLA. Isaias Soares, correspondent
of Voice of America (VoA) and the independent Catholic radio station ‘Radio
Ecclesia’ in the northern Malange province was attacked by two men on February
22 at his home. Soares was not injured in the assault. Soares has been harassed
on several occasions for his critical writings. In 1999, he was arrested
after he denounced the security forces’ practices. In 2000, local authorities
in Malange forbade the journalist access to official buildings. (IRIN, February
The latest reported incident occurred on July 14, when Rafael Marques was
arrested by police in Luanda while visiting people who had been forcibly
removed from their homes. Marques has argued that media freedom has deteriorated,
citing examples of government pressure on the Catholic radio station ‘Radio
Ecclesia’ and interrogations of journalists who denounce the government.
(CNN, July 14, 2001)
Not Genocidal in
This preliminary research focused on possible precursors of genocide present
in the region due to the civil war in Angola. The Genocide Prevention Center
has defined four standards that must be met for human rights abuses and
violence to constitute genocide:
The Center recognizes the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment
of the Crime of Genocide definition of genocide, Article 2(a)(c)
The GPC must determine that the occurrence of massacres of unarmed civilian
groups is habitual
The Center must determine that the crimes are intentional
Numerous and repeated acts of murder of a UN-recognized group must be the
primary characteristic of the abuse
In concert with the first criteria, the Genocide Prevention Center acknowledges
the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of
Genocide as key to identifying genocide. The UN Convention Article II classifies
genocide as intentional actions aimed at destroying "in whole or in
part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group."
The civil war in Angola is a struggle for control and power between the
government MPLA and the UNITA. Although both parties are supported by different
ethnic groups (the MPLA by Africans and mixed race mesticos and the UNITA
by the peasants and ethnic Ovimbundo population), ethnicity has never been
of significance in the war. Civilians have not been targeted due to their
national, ethnical, racial or religious beliefs. Hence, the Angolan civil
war does not meet this portion of the UN definition of genocide and does
not meet the first standard.
According to Article 2 (e) of the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide, "Forcibly
transferring children of the group to another group" is a genocidal
act. This is taking place in Angola, as we have mentioned in the section
above entitled "Forcible Recruitments of Adults and Children".
Although the forced transfer of children does meet a portion of Article
2 from the UN Convention, the Genocide Prevention Center does not utilize
this as a criteria for genocide as it does not share the characteristic
In order to meet the second standard for genocide, the killings in Angola
must be shown to be habitual. In looking at the recent violence within the
country, it is possible to make a case that the killing of civilians is
in fact habitual, as there have been numerous cases in which civilians have
lost their lives in the conflict. Examples include 16 killed in Calomboloca
on March 16, 2001; 20 killed in Cacuso on May 15, 2001; 22 killed in Catala
on July 11, 2001; and 70 killed in Chinguvu on July 17, 2001. However, a
distinction must be made between the specific targeting of civilians and
incidental civilian wartime casualties. In the case of incidental casualties,
civilian deaths result primarily as an effect of the overall warfare and
not due to the specific targeting and exterminating of the population. It
is clear that in the case of Angola, the civilian victims are incidental
casualties and not the primary targets of the violence. These killings do
constitute war crimes, however, they are not genocidal in nature. Therefore,
the violence and killing in Angola do not meet the second standard for genocide.
The third standard involves the intent behind the killings. The Genocide
Prevention Center distinguishes between massive human rights abuses that
have an aspect of manslaughter versus those that have an aspect of murder.
In a case of murder, the action is considered to be intentional while in
the case of manslaughter, the killing of civilians is a bi-product of warfare
and is not the intended goal. Directly related to the above analysis of
the second standard, the case of Angola does not involve the intentional
targeting and extermination of the civilian population. Massacres are primarily
incidental civilian wartime casualties, and therefore are more closely associated
with manslaughter then they are with murder. Because there is no strong
indication that the killing of civilians in Angola is intentional, it therefore
does not meet the third standard for genocide.
According to the fourth criteria the primary characteristic of the human
rights violations must be the killing of civilians. Again, this is not the
case in Angola. Angola has been suffering from two decades of civil war
in which large numbers of civilians have been killed. However, the killing
of civilians is not the primary characteristic of the violence. The primary
characteristic of the conflict is warfare, with famine and incidental wartime
casualties existing as secondary characteristics. The case of Angola is
one of a civil war in which the two main sides are fighting over territory,
not targeting the population for extermination. Because the killing of civilians
is not the primary characteristic of the war in Angola, this case does not
meet the fourth standard for genocide.
In conclusion, the Genocide Prevention Center has determined that the pattern
of violence in Angola does not meet the four standards for genocide. Nevertheless,
based on reports published in 2001, the UNITA is responsible for committing
both war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is difficult to make a judgment
on the actions of the government, as there is a lack of evidence on the
nature of the violence it has committed. It is possible that the strict
control the government has over the media has been responsible for this
lack of information. However, as cited earlier in the report, Amnesty International
has stated that both the UNITA and government MPLA have been responsible
for actions against civilians.
In concert with the reported casualties, we can only conclude that it appears
the atrocities committed against civilians this year have been inflicted
by the UNITA. Based on the evidence, the UNITA has violated Article 3 Common
to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Protocol Additional to
the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949.
According to Article 3, "the following acts are and shall remain prohibited
at any time and in any place…: (a) Violence to life and person, in particular
murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; (b) Taking
of hostages; (www.unhchr.ch)
According to Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and numerous news
articles cited in this report, the UNITA is responsible for committing murder,
mutilation, and kidnapping, hence violating Article 3 a and b.
The UNITA has violated Part Two, Article 4, 3c of Protocol Additional to
the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 which states " children who
have not attained the age of fifteen years shall neither be recruited in
the armed forces or groups nor allowed to take part in hostilities."
Further, the UNITA is responsible for violating Part Four, Article 13, 2
of Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 which
says: " The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians,
shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary
purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited."
Although the Genocide Prevention Center concludes that the Angolan civil
war does not constitute genocide, the civil war does constitute the above
mentioned war crimes. Therefore, the abuses in Angola require further attention
and action to bring about an end to the violence.
of the Civil War
1961-1975 War of Independence, Angolans wage guerilla war for independence
1975 Portugal grants independence
1975-1991 War of the Bush, Civil war among two rival groups
1976 Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) organizes Marxist
1992-1994 War of the Cities
1994 Government and UNITA sign peace treaty (Lusaka Protocol)
1998 Peace Protocol fails, civil war restarts
Amnesty International Report 2001: Angola
Annan, Kofi: S/1998/1110 REPORT to the Security Council on the United Nations
Mission on Angola (MONUA)
Angola: A Brief Outline
Angola Peace Monitor: Issue No.10, Vol.VII, 4 July 2001
Angola Peace Monitor: Issue No.9, Vol.VII, 7 June 2001
CIA The World Fact Book: Angola
GBGM: Angola: General Information and History
Human Rights Watch World Report 2000: Angola
Library of Congress: Angola, a country study
Prendergast, John: Angola’s Deadly War:Dealing with Savimbi’sHell on Earth
UNCHR Country Profile, Angola
U.S. Agency for International Development, Bureau for Humanitarian Response
(BHR) Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)
Angola: Complex Emergency , Situation Report #2, Fiscal Year(FY) 2001 July
US Committee for Refugees: Worldwide Refugee Information, Country Report:
Online News Resources
BBC:"Angola aid flights resume." June 21, 2001.
CNN:"Ongoing war a grim reality in Angola." April 6, 2001.
Guardian and Mail:"Angola." May 9, 2001
IRIN:"ANGOLA: Journalist assaulted in Malange province." February
28, 2001. http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN/sa/countrystories/angola/20010228b.phtml
IRIN:"ANGOLA: Town’s population ‘missing’." March 7, 2001.
IRIN: "ANGOLA: UNITA attack on Benguela." March 14, 2001.
IRIN:"ANGOLA: Angolan rebels attack strategic town." March
16 2001. http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN/sa/countrystories/angola/20010316a.phtml
IRIN:"ANGOLA-ZAMBIA: More Angolan refugees arrive in Zambia."
April 19, 2001. http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN/sa/countrystories/angola/20010419.phtml
IRIN:" ANGOLA: Angolan children recount raid." May 11, 2001.
IRIN:"ANGOLA: UNITA attacks military base near Namibian border."
May 11, 2001. http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN/sa/countrystories/angola/20010511b.phtml
IRIN:"ANGOLA: 20 dead in ambush by Angolan rebels." May 15,
IRIN: "ANGOLA: Landmine kills 22. " June, 11, 2001.
IRIN:"ANGOLA: Government, UNITA claim victories as president calls
for tougher action." June 19, 2001. http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN/sa/countrystories/angola/20010619a.phtml
IRIN:"ANGOLA: Twelve killed in rebel attack." June 29, 2001.
IRIN: "ANGOLA: Attack on diamond town." July 17, 2001.
Pearce, Justin: "UNITA attack east of Luanda." May 22, 2001.BBC
Pearce, Justin: "Angola rebels attack Uige." June 26, 2001.
Shukman, David:"Deadly landmine threat stalks Angola." May
3, 2001. BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/africa/newsid_735000/735287.stm
Shukman, David: "Victims of Angola’s landmines." May 6, 2001.BBC
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: Humanitarian
Angola: Reporting period 09 – 15 Jul 2001, July 25 2001.
Article 3 Common to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Protocol
Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949.