Cabinda – Why does the jurisprudence of the forcible annexations of Cabinda by Angola and East Timor by Indonesia in 1975 not apply within the framework of the self-determination acquired by the Democratic Republic of East Timor on the 20th May 2002? Why do the Cabindais people like the Timorese people not have the right to a Nation which is characterized by the awareness of its unity (historical, social, cultural) and the will to live together ? The historical similarity between these two martyred peoples is obvious.

Indeed, Cabinda and East Timor were administered by Portugal for four centuries. From 1975, these two territories were annexed respectively by Angola and Indonesia. They both suffered from the atrocities and massive repressions that followed their annexation, resulting in numerous casualties, without really mobilizing the international community. These two territories have remained in complicit oblivion, marked by flagrant human rights violations. Certain striking facts show the perfect similarity of the tragedy and the martyrdom of these two peoples. In 1974, the new Portuguese government, resulting from a military coup, accepted the principle of independence for its colonies in Asia and Africa.

Regarding East Timor, in August 1975, the Portuguese administration withdrew from Dili, its capital. In December 1975, Indonesia invaded the territory which in July 1976 became the 27th province of the Republic of Indonesia. Annexation is not recognized by the UN. Since this annexation, several separatist demonstrations have been violently repressed by the army. The attribution of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996, to two figures of the Timorese resistance, consecrates the end of the indifference of the international community, until the abrupt revival of its process of self-determination in 1999. Indeed, in May 1999, an agreement is signed between the Indonesian and Portuguese governments on the organization of a referendum under the aegis of the UN. It must relate to autonomy within the Indonesian Republic or to the independence of East Timor. It resulted in a clear desire for independence within the framework of a referendum organized by the United Nations, where the “yes” won by nearly 80%. In more than twenty years, the policy of forced assimilation of the population, the repression of the armed insurrection and famines have left some 200,000 dead, or a quarter of the population of the territory, according to estimates from humanitarian and religious sources. .

Concerning Cabinda, in 1964 the Organization of African Unity (OAU) classifies Cabinda as the 39th state to decolonize (and Angola as the 35th), in 1975 the ambassadors of the former Zaire and Congo Brazzaville in Ethiopia, plead from the OAU platform in favor of the self-determination of Cabinda in reaction to the Alvor conference in Portugal in January 1975, which brought together the three Angolan liberation movements (UNITA, MPLA, FNLA) , with the exception of FLEC, and which legitimizes the attachment of Cabinda to Angola. Thus, in November 1975, occupied militarily by Angola with the help of the Soviet-Cuban armies, Cabinda was considered the 18th province of Angola. There will follow the daily lot of massacres, violation of human rights, deprivation of liberty. In September 1992, the presidential and legislative elections organized by the occupier were boycotted with massive abstention. It was the official refusal of assimilation (only voters: the occupation troops and Angolan officials, around 50,000 men). A violent punitive military repression causes thousands of deaths and rapes, without reaction and without condemnation from the international community.

The chaos that reigns in Cabinda and the very serious crimes that the people of Cabinda are currently undergoing are a reminder of the extent to which the international community continues to make a variable geometry interpretation of its obligation. She recently devoted herself to East Timor, bringing relief to a population in danger of death. The horror in which Cabinda is today plunged very much resembles the chronicle of very serious human rights violations and a foretold humanitarian catastrophe.

In recent years, the New York-based human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) has regularly called on the Angolan government to end abuses committed by the military it accuses of raping, torture and execute civilians in Cabinda. Several press releases were published in 2002, 2003 and 2004 to denounce the abuses and inhumane violations of human rights (rape, castration, torture, arbitrary arrests are the daily lot of civilians accused of helping the separatists) .

Notwithstanding, the Cabindais people are trying again to reorganize themselves in the face of the almost complicit indifference of the international community. The FLEC / FAC and the FLEC Rénové, two Cabindian politico-military organizations have decided to unite their strength. A meeting sealing the alliance was held in late August in the Netherlands in the presence of representatives of the Cabinda church. The new name of the movement is now: FLEC (Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda), this is the original name of the independence movement in 1963.

Beyond this merger, “and in order to respond to the imperative of the search for peace between the Cabindais people and the government of Angola“, according to the terms of the press release published at the end of the meeting, the FLEC and Civil Society created the Cabindais Forum for Dialogue. The Cabindais Forum for Dialogue now presents itself as the sole interlocutor “valid, representative and capable of leading the dialogue with the government of Angola“. He said he was ready to start negotiations with the Angolan government in order to seek a peaceful solution to the conflict. The powerful civil association Mpalabanda (fire resistant tree), which advocates the self-determination of Cabinda, is at the origin of this happy initiative. It recommends that the belligerents proclaim an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, open a dialogue and prepare to negotiate.

Finally, she asks the international community and the African Union (AU) to end their policy of apathy and participate in the search for peace in Cabinda, also calling on the UN to appoint a special rapporteur on human rights. of Man, whose violations are regularly denounced in this territory. The Cabindans must nevertheless show the international community their will to live together in unity and in national cohesion, sharing their history, culture and identity in order to reassure all economic and financial stakeholders present in Cabinda.

However, we are in the presence of double standards, East Timor is now independent and Cabinda is still under Angolan military occupation. The United Nations assumed its responsibilities in East Timor by putting this territory under its administration and by organizing the referendum which resulted in its self-determination. Why this degree of myopia and exceptional cynicism on the part of the international community towards the people of Cabinda? Would that be assimilated to an identity crime ?

Dr André Patrick TCHISSAMBOU

Article published in Jeune Afrique Économie, February 07, 2007