SAR, Vol 15 No 1, December 1999
THE ANGOLAN PEACE MANIFESTO
Luanda, 27 September, 1999 (AIA/Mercedes Sayagues)
Peace activists have launched a campaign calling for an immediate ceasefire in Angola's civil war and the opening of corridors to deliver humanitarian aid countrywide.
The group includes church people, trade unionists, human rights activists, journalists, academics and others. Their loose coalition, the Angolan Group to Reflect on Peace (GARP, from its Portuguese acronym), is led by a respected theologian, Pastor Daniel Ntoni-Nzinga. About 500 people have adhered to its manifesto since July.
"I know my people well and I see how exhausted they are with war. In villages and cities, people from all walks of life want to do something to stop this madness," says Ntoni-Nzinga. "This is an important determination for the Angolan people."
"We have to organize civil society to pressure the warmongers, to stop this culture of war and violence," says Professor Carlinhos Zassala, secretary-general of the trade union of university professors and a GARP member.
One key ally will be the churches, both Catholic and Protestant denominations, quite strong in Angola. Until recently, the hierarchy of the Catholic church enjoyed a cosy relationship with the ruling party. But in July the bishops of Angola issued a pastoral letter. In no uncertain terms, they condemned "this war that has become a double assassin: it kills with weapons and it kills with starvation."
The bishops deplored attacks against civilians, shelling of cities and ambushes of civilian cars. That is pretty much Unita. But they also condemned "those who make a profitable business out of war. To stash accounts in foreign banks and to make a profit out of the hunger, the suffering, the blood and the death of your own brothers is a repugnant infamy that should not occur in the heart of any Angolan." This clearly applies to the MPLA.
The government ignored the letter. But every Sunday, from the pulpits across Angola, priests preach against the culture of war, violence and profiteering. Says the bishop of Malange, Luis Perez de Onraita: "Humbly, we believe we speak as the voice of the voiceless, and we say war cannot solve Angola's problem. The solution lies in negotiations and dialogue."
GARP is meeting with the bishops to explore an alliance that would boost the peace movement. Next will be a commission of eminent people tasked with beginning negotiations.
Perhaps the time has come for an Angolan mediation and an Angolan solution. "Foreign countries are unable to see the roots of the problem, that you can't build a nation on politics of exclusion and marginalisation," says Zassala. This time, Angolan peace activists want a home-made solution.
[Excerpted from Africa Information Afrique]
The Angolan people desire a lasting peace, social justice, good Governance, and the rights of citizenship and mutual respect for the diverse peoples and cultures that form the Angolan nation. These fundamental principles are essential for establishing mutual understanding among the Angolan people. Ultimately, they will serve as the basis for a profound revision of the concept of the Nation, and, while promoting respect for the rights of Angolan citizens as individuals, help to create a popular vision for Angola and its direction in the future.
Unfortunately, war is still being used against the Angolan people, as those who hold power plunder the country's wealth, in partnership with adventurous outsiders and foreign countries. Oil, diamonds and their revenues are the major foci of the greed of the government, the armed opposition and the multinationals, especially the oil companies. All are being aided by the complacency of countries like the United States, France, England, Brazil, Russia, Portugal and South Africa. Instead of pursuing their immediate economic and political interests, these countries should elevate their efforts in the plane of moral values, so as to contribute to reconciliation among Angolans.
The war in Angola will only come to an end when civil society, encompassing the people as a whole, accepts that there is no definitive military solution to the Angolan conflict. Angolans must be aware of the process of destruction in which they are targets, and assume the responsibility of reclaiming their lives and dignity.
What is even more perilous, in this regard, is that the silencing of guns will not by any means signify the end of the war. Angolan mentalities, especially those of the politicians, ruled as they are by selfish interests, are more aggressive than the armies under their command. In Angola, peace has always been seen as the end of fighting, followed by the process of the disarming and demobilization of soldiers. This vision, while reflecting internal sentiments, is especially favoured by some foreign institutions. In reality, however, it provides little more than a tranquilizing illusion for those who desperately seek true peace. Meanwhile, it supplies attractive cover to those who plan to exploit an immediate settlement as the means to position themselves strategically and geopolitically in the race for Angolan riches.
We have reached the extremity of suffering, social humiliation and the total perversion of the use of power. Hence, we have come to the conclusion - a difficult one, because it is so fundamental and evident, though one of consensus - that we, the Angolan people, should establish a common understanding of the causes as well as the consequences of the military and political conflict that we are facing, if we are to find definitive solutions and arrive at a national reconciliation. It is fundamental that we, the Angolan people, recognize with courage and determination, that we are all accountable, whether actively or passively, for the political and military devastation as well as the social and economic chaos of the country. As well, we must recognize the serious mistakes and abuses committed by ourselves during our historic journey.
We, the Angolan people, should take full responsibility for the solution of our own problems. We should not keep on blaming the colonial heritage and/or third parties for our grievances. It is a testament to our own immaturity that we so systematically transfer responsibility for the resolution of the national conflict to the intervention of foreigners.
Faced as we are with the suffocation of what still remains of Angolan society, the moment has come for us to act persistently, in a peaceful, courageous and moderate manner, in order to rescue the treasure that Angolans most desire and deserve: Peace through Dialogue. It is the Angolan people who defend peace in this way, while the belligerents assume that war is the way to reach peace, even if this means the humiliation of one part of the nation by the other. Such a war, however, makes no sense to true patriots.
Therefore, we, Angolan citizens, demand :
1. that the government, UNITA and FLEC observe an immediate cease-fire, throughout the national territory;
2. the urgent opening of formal communication lines between the belligerents, through the mediation of organized civil society;
3. the immediate opening of humanitarian corridors to assist the people affected by the war, especially in the countryside;
4. that the government and UNITA, in co-responsibility, include in their military budgets assistance to deprived people, instead of transferring the burden of their war against the Angolan nation to the international community;
5. the definition of an agenda and schedule for peace talks, by the government (MPLA), the armed opposition (UNITA and FLEC) and organized civil society, for the definitive resolution of the causes of the Angolan conflict;
6. the establishment of conditions for the inclusiveness and safe participation of Angolans in the Process of National Dialogue for Peace, throughout the country;
7. that the government and UNITA include in their military budgets the necessary funds to make peace, with patriotism and dignity, because, if there is enough money to sustain the war, then there should as well be enough money to achieve Peace effectively.
We have decided to fight with persistence and determination for the full accomplishment of our demands and to work actively for the achievement of a lasting peace in Angola, through a patriotic vision of social justice and national equity.
Luanda, July 15, 1999
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