Analysis: The popular glorification of terrorism in Cabo Delgado - By Marcelo Mosse
Pemba City street, [File photo: DW]
Alleged arbitrary arrests by the Defence and Security Forces (FDS) during operations against violent extremism may be fuelling the wave of violence in northern Mozambique, according to Human Right Watch (HRW).
Citing the number of acquittals in trials connected with the armed attacks, Zenaida Machado, an expert at the international human rights watchdog, says that “arbitrary arrests are not only a violation of human rights – they are also counterproductive. The truth is that innocent citizens have been confined in cells alongside insurgents for months at a time. What the government is doing is getting people radicalised in state cells. [Then,] when they leave the cells, nobody knows where they are.”
The armed repression used by the government to combat the insurgency phenomenon was another agenda item at a seminar on “Human Conflict in the Exploitation of Natural Resources” organised by several non-governmental organisations in Pemba last Friday (23.08).
João Feijó, a researcher at the Rural Observatory (OMR), doubts that any military solution will restore peace in the north of Cabo Delgado.
“It is necessary to rethink this military solution of eliminating the problem by force. […] I do not think it will solve the problem. In fact, I think it will further inflame the situation,” Feijó says.
Tomas Vieira Mário, from the NGO Sekelekani, the Centre for Communication Studies and Research, agrees.
“The military response is excessive. A more socially responsible reaction would be greater economic investment so that the very evident natural resources are not a shock to poverty,” Mário says.
Promises not fulfilled
Feijó offers various hypotheses to account for the violence in Cabo Delgado since 2017. One of these is the frustration of expectations that living conditions would improve as a result of the discovery of natural resources.
“We have a scenario of big investment announcements, and exaggerated promises of employment and well-being that which are not fulfilled. Usually, in such a mix of high expectations and social inequality, just one spark can set off an explosion. This spark could be a populist political party or someone from a very radical religious movement, or it could be some Che Guevara type with a very radical discourse speaking in a populist way.”
HRW also finds it worrying that the government is still not providing shelter to people displaced by the Cabo Delgado attacks, who remain billeted in the homes of relatives and friends at the district headquarters villages in conditions of increasing vulnerability.
“Regardless of the amount of force that is used by insurgents and the government’s need to contain these activities, the government cannot exempt itself from its responsibilities to take care of its citizens,” HRW’s Zenaida Machado says.
Violation of community rights
The way communities in areas affected by the exploitation of natural resources are resettled has also attracted researchers’ attention. This is a critical area, as it almost always results in violation of community rights,Clelia Pondja of the Public Integrity Centre (CIP) says, arguing that there should be a law regulating the matter.
“The community has to be part of the new resettlement process. The policy is not very clear, and the resettlement process varies from place to place and industry to industry. There has to be serious legislation covering resettlement comprehensively and not in ways which vary from context to context,” she says.
The provincial government representative at the event, Arlindo Djedje recommended that everyone look for ways to end the violence in Cabo Delgado, saying: “We are all called upon to invest in the construction and consolidation of this precious thing, peace. We believe that the richness of natural resources with which we are endowed must revert to the benefit of all Mozambicans, generating wealth and strengthening cohesion and national unity.”Source: Deutsche Welle
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