Document - Amnesty International News Service 95/93
NEWS SERVICE 95/93
TO: PRESS OFFICERSAI INDEX: NWS 11/95/93
FROM: IS PRESS OFFICEDISTR: SC/PO
DATE: 11 AUGUST 1993 NO OF WORDS: 1490
NEWS SERVICE ITEMS: EXTERNAL - SIERRA LEONE, SPAIN AND ANGOLA
NEWS INITIATIVES - INTERNAL
PLEASE NOTE: An Urgent Action was issued on Monday 9 August on the killing of more than 30 civilians by security forces in Chad. A note is being sent out to Campaign Coordinators asking them to use this for publicity - AI Index: AFR 20/26/93, UA 265/93.
INTERNATIONAL NEWS RELEASES
Saudi Arabia - 14 September - SEE NEWS SERVICE 88
Sudan - 29 September - SEE NEWS SERVICE 88
TARGETED AND LIMITED NEWS RELEASES
Sierra Leone - 12 August - SEE NEWS SERVICE 90
ICM - 14 or 15 August - We are expecting a brief news statement to be issued to the international media from Boston at the end of the ICM, over the weekend of 14-15 August 1993. The IS press office will immediately send it out to as many sections as possible by fax and/or e-mail so the text will be with you when you start work on Monday 16 August. The item will then be sent out in the News Service in the normal way
Angola - 20 August - Included in this news service. SEE NEWS SERVICE 90
Yemen - 26 August - A News Service item to accompany an external document on unfair trials and political detention - the IS will send it to limited regional media. This document accompanies a MERAN and a lawyers' action.
North Korea - 1 October - SEE NEWS SERVICE 88
FORTHCOMING NEWS INITIATIVES
Myanmar - 8 October PLEASE NOTE NEW DATE (international).
EJEs and "Disappearances" - 20 October (international)
Venezuela - 10 November (international, linked to EJEs & Disappearances)
News Service 95/93
AI INDEX: AFR 51/WU 05/93 EXTERNAL
11 AUGUST 1993
SIERRA LEONE: AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CONDEMNS DELIBERATE AND ARBITRARY KILLINGS BY ARMED OPPOSITION GROUP
Amnesty International is deeply concerned by reports of the deliberate and arbitrary killing, by forces of the armed opposition Revolutionary United Front (RUF), of 21 people in the rebel-occupied Kailahun district of Sierra Leone.
It is reported that 16 members of the RUF and five civilians were executed by firing squad after they were accused of plotting to overthrow the leader of the RUF, Foday Sankoh. The exact date of the killings is not known but they are believed to have taken place in the first week of August 1993. Amnesty International is investigating these allegations.
Armed conflict between the Revolutionary United Front and the Sierra Leone army began in March 1991 when the RUF invaded Sierra Leone from part of neighbouring Liberia with the support of a neighbouring Liberian rebel group. The conflict continued after the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC), headed by Captain Valentine Strasser, came to power in Sierra Leone following a coup in April 1992,
Amnesty International unreservedly condemns such deliberate and arbitrary killings and is calling on both sides in the conflict to respect human rights and to observe basic international humanitarian standards. In June 1993 Amnesty International published further information about the detention and deaths in custody of rebel suspects by government forces. It urged the government to ensure that their military forces have clear orders not to kill prisoners.
News Service 95/93
AI INDEX: EUR 41/WU 03/93 EXTERNAL
11 AUGUST 1993
SPAIN: AI CONDEMNS ETA FOR TAKING BASQUE INDUSTRIALIST HOSTAGE
Amnesty International is concerned about the kidnapping of Julio Iglesias Zamora on 5 July 1993 by the armed Basque group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA). On 3 August 1993 ETA issued a statement with a photograph of the hostage, a 42-year-old electronics engineer, in the Basque newspaper, Egin, in which it claimed responsibility for his "arrest" in San Sebastian in the Basque region in Northern Spain.
Julio Iglesias Zamora is the nephew of the founder of an electronics company, Ikusi, which makes television aerials and television systems. He disappeared on his way home from work on the night of 5 July 1993 and on 6 July 1993 the police found his abandoned car with the doors open and traces of a strong sleeping drug in it. It is believed that he was kidnapped from inside his garage.
The ETA statement of 3 August 1993 refers to the "arrest" of Julio Iglesias Zamora and criticizes those persons who try to blame ETA for the economic crisis in the Basque country. ETA also claim responsibility for the murder of Ángel María González, a young drug addict, whom it accuses of being engaged in drug trafficking.
There are no reports of a ransom request having been made yet and it is against the law to pay ransoms to kidnappers or hostage-takers. It is not against the law to negotiate with them. Eight years ago the founder of Ikusi, Ángel Iglesias, reportedly refused to pay ETA a sum of what is known as "revolutionary taxation".
The last kidnapping by ETA was of an industrialist, Adolfo Villoslada Martín, in November 1989. He was released after payment of a ransom in February 1990. A further attempted hostage-taking in March 1991 was aborted when ETA realized they had seized the wrong man. He was released immediately.
Amnesty International unreservedly condemns such abuses by armed political opposition groups as hostage-taking and deliberate and arbitrary killings, which contravene international humanitarian standards. Amnesty International therefore urges the immediate and unconditional release of Julio Iglesias Zamora.
News Service 95/93
AI INDEX: AFR 12/WU 01/93 EXTERNAL
EMBARGOED FOR 20 AUGUST 1993
ANGOLA: ACTION NEEDED TO STOP HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE IN BLOODY CIVIL WAR
With an estimated 1,000 people dying every day in the Angolan civil war, it is time for decisive action to end human rights abuses there, said Amnesty International launching a report today. The organization added: "Both sides should accept their responsibility to end human rights abuses and the United Nations should appoint a human rights commissioner for the beleaguered country."
Both government forces and UNITA (União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola) have been guilty of gross human rights abuses - both sides have repeatedly targeted civilians for killing and prisoners have "disappeared" from their custody. In addition, tens of thousands of people have died as a result of fighting and hundreds more are dying every day.
A fragile peace was achieved after Peace Accords were signed in May 1991 - but war resumed when UNITA rejected the results of elections held in September 1992. Now, says Amnesty International, the human rights situation is far worse than it was even before the peace accords, with reports coming in all the time of targeted killings by both sides.
Although accurate information is difficult to get from Angola, Amnesty International believes there is a pattern of abuse by both government forces and UNITA. While much of the information in the organization's current report deals with abuses at the end of 1992 and early 1993, it is clear that the killings are still going on.
Amnesty International itself has details of hundreds of people believed to have been extrajudicially executed by government forces. At first, the government maintained that the killings were carried out spontaneously by civilians angry at UNITA, but it is now clear that government officials were handing out weapons and taking part in the killings themselves.
There are also many reports of prisoners "disappearing" from their cells. Some prisoners tell how a roll-call of prisoners was read out and those whose names were called were taken away, never to be seen again, other witnesses tell of seeing dead bodies in prison compounds. At the front line those captured have also been murdered - in the words of one soldier: "there are very few prisoners in this war."
And behind UNITA lines similar abuses were also going on, with reports that UNITA had hunted down suspected government supporters and killed them. Even children have not been spared - one report tells of children being killed because UNITA soldiers could not find their father.
The situation is now so grim that Amnesty International is calling on the United Nations to appoint a human rights commissioner for Angola to work with the Secretary General's special representative and monitor the human rights situation. "It is absolutely imperative that human rights are given priority in any moves towards peace in Angola," said the international human rights organization. "The last peace accords failed to bridge the gulf of fear and hatred between the two sides and did not take human rights seriously enough. That failure must not be allowed to happen again."
The United Nations recognises the serious human rights problem in Angola - UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has himself said explicitly that respect for human rights is a "critical component" of peace in the country.
But, says Amnesty International, words aren't enough and it is time for the international community to insist on respect for human rights. "Human rights have been in crisis in Angola for 18 years," said the organization, "and the world has to recognise the significance of human rights abuse in a country torn apart by fear and hatred.
"We would like to see a special human rights commissioner for Angola tackling the problems as soon as possible, and we must see human rights at the top of the agenda in any new peace talks. Only then can we hope to see any progress towards lasting peace."