AuthorANN Staff Writer
The government of Angola suffered another serious blow to its credibility yesterday as photographic evidence of the massacre of hundreds of followers of the "Seventh Day Light of the World" religious group at the hands of the Angolan National Police was presented to the public.
Yesterday, Angola News Network obtained and published a video, believed to be taken by a member of an Angolan National Police unit, showing blood-soaked dead bodies of the victims and the devastation left behind by a police raid on the compound of a Christian church group led by Jose Kalupeteka who is now in police custody.
The video shows hundreds of members of the church group signing, praying and performing baptisms in a small body of water and quickly transitions to a group of police officers checking dead bodies and the empty makeshift homes of the church group members who had been encamped on the hills outside of Huambo before the police opened fire with military-style assault rifles, and belt-fed, high-powered machine guns.
One police officer in the video is seen beating one victim's lifeless body with a club to make sure it was dead. Another police officer is seen walking among the dead bodies and burned-out homes with his belt-fed machine gun. The police officers on the video are heard complaining that they are tired from shooting their weapons and setting fires all day.
Last weekend, Angolan government took the highly-unusual and ill-advised tack of issuing a direct challenge to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) concerning the massacre. On Saturday, the government of Angola demanded an apology from the United Nations following concerns expressed by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) that Angolan police murdered members of the church group. Last week, a spokesman for the UNHCR called for “a truly meaningful, independent, thorough investigation” into reports of a massacre of members of the Light of the World Seventh Day Church by the Angolan National Police in April.
In the prepared statement released on Saturday, the Angolan government said it regrets that “the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, an organ that promotes and protects human rights in the world, in relation to this case, has adopted a position of stirring speculations which are susceptible of threatening the Angolan state’s peace and security.”
“Thus, the Angolan government, on behalf of all its citizens, appeals to the UN High Commissioner to present evidences of its statements or retract by presenting official apologies,” said the statement.
It said the Angolan government deemed the statements by the UNHCR “groundless, devoid of any evidence and fuelled with false and irresponsible accusations” and made with the “intention of defaming not just the Angolan institutions but also of its citizens.”
“We find it difficult to believe that over one thousand people were killed and buried in one night, without leaving any traces.”
However, it now appears that at least video traces were left.
The Angolan government has cordoned-off the area around Sumé Hill in the central Huambo Province where many of the killings took place and no independent investigators or journalists have been allowed to visit the area. The Angolan government says the events are being investigated by the Angolan Attorney General's office.
The release of the video undercuts the goverrnment's claims of that only a small number of members of the church group were killed by the police and also puts to rest any claim by the Angolan government that no evidence exists to support the claims of eyewitnesses that perhaps more than a large number of members of the religious group were killed.
The release of the video has energized international human rights groups and others who plan to intensify pressure on the Angolan government until all of the facts are revealed and those responsible are brought to justice.