Author ANN Staff Writer
The spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, said yesterday that the human rights office is concerned about what it called "alarming" reports of a massacre conducted by Angolan National Police units against the "Seventh Day Light of the World" religious group.
Colville said the U.N. has been working to gather more information about the incident, but the facts remain unclear, with wildly differing accounts of the number of casualties.
"According to the government, nine police officers and 13 civilians were killed in a confrontation in Serra Sumé when police attempted to arrest the leader of a religious sect called "Luz du Mundo" (Light of the World)," he said.
"But other accounts of the incident claim that hundreds of followers of the sect were killed. There are even accounts suggesting the number may exceed 1,000," Colville said at a U.N. press briefing.
He noted that recent comments made by the Angolan government through the state-controlled news media condemning the religious group "have been very worryingly virulent."
"We understand that a Government inquiry has been launched into the incident, and we urge the Government to ensure that a truly meaningful, independent, thorough investigation is conducted with a view to ensuring accountability," said Colville.
UNITA, Angola's largest opposition political party had called on the UN Human Rights Commission and other members of the international community to get involved in pressing the Angolan government for access to the sites of the killings to gather evidence to conduct a thorough and independent investigation into the killings.
After the police raid on the Christian sect's camp, the Angolan government banned as many as nine churches with members in Angola.
The Seventh Day Light of the World religious community is led by former Seventh-day Adventist Jose Kalupeteka, who has been arrested and is being held in jail by Angolan authorities.
The Christianity Today report noted that journalists have been denied access to the scene of the massacre.