Mozambique, a country on the Indian Ocean bordering South Africa, is one of the world’s leading victims of terrorism. This nation of 14 million people is trying to resist brutal attacks by the Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO), a South African-armed and supported group. A U.S. State Department official called it “one of the most brutal holocausts against ordinary human beings since World War II.”
The Mozambique government calls them `bandidos,’ but RENAMO, the 25,000-man army, says they are fighting to overthrow the predominantly black, socialist, one-party government in power.
The atrocities are so horrible many cannot even be imagined. So far, more than one million, mostly innocent men, women, and children, have died as a result of this barbaric war. 200,000 children have been orphaned or separated from their parents. In pre-dawn raids, RENAMO come into villages firing automatic weapons into the homes, indiscriminately killing everyone in their path.
Many of the atrocities of these attacks are committed against the children. The numbers of girls raped is incredible; reports say even girls as young as ten are becoming sexual slaves for soldiers, all in an effort to stay alive. There may be at least 100,000 children the RENAMO has trained and forced to kill. Children are kidnapped from their families and marched through the bush without food. They’re beaten. First they are trained to kill animals and then human beings. This process can start at the age of eight. One out of every three Mozambique children will die before they reach the age of five. In terms of loss of life, that’s equivalent to a jumbo jet filled with children crashing every week.
Children see their families killed. One child of nine, Franisse, related what happened when he was only six years old. RENAMO came to his village in the middle of the night and grabbed him. They pulled his arms up behind his back and forced him to light the house with his parents on fire. When they came running out, they were decapitated. They cut his parents into pieces and Franisse then was forced to pick up the pieces and put them into a pot to be cooked. Then his mother’s head was impaled on a post and they wrapped a government flag around her neck, to show what happens when you support the government.
Funding for RENAMO is believed to come from South African sources as well as conservative, right-wing groups in the United States and Europe. According to RENAMO watch groups, U.S. supporters of RENAMO include television evangelist Pat Robertson (Republican Party presidential candidate in 1988); U.S. Representatives Dan Burton (R-IN) and Philip Crane (R-IL); Jack Kemp, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Senators Bob Dole (R-KS), Bob Kasten (R-WI), and Jesse Helms (R-NC). Jesse Helms calls the RENAMO “freedom fighters.” He tried to get Washington change its policy on RENAMO but failed when the State Department reported that RENAMO was responsible for 94% of all the killings investigated.
While “20/20” broadcast a segment on the horrors of Mozambique early this year, it is still felt that the enormity of the holocaust there deserves far more media attention and public response.
SSU CENSORED RESEARCHER: HELLER WAIDTLOW
1330 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10019
TITLE: “CHILDREN OF TERROR” and “AGAINST ALL ODDS”
ABC-TV News: JANICE TOMLIN and TOM JARRIEL
SOURCE: RENAMO WATCH Mozambique Support Network 343 South Dearborn, Suite 314 Chicago, IL 60604
DATE: FEBRUARY 1990
TITLE: “RENAMO’S U.S. SUPPORT”
SOURCE: UTNE READER 1624 Harmon Place Minneapolis, MN 55403
DATE: November/December 1989
TITLE: “THE HIDDEN WAR IN MOZAMBIQUE”
AUTHOR: KALAMU YA SALAAM
COMMENTS: Joshua Lazerson, acting national coordinator for the Mozambique Support Network, in Chicago, said that the media coverage of the events in Mozambique has not improved in 1990. “The citation from Project Censored is still very fitting,” Lazerson said, “since the Mozambique holocaust is still an unknown story. When we tell people about what is happening, their reaction is one of shock –‘Why haven’t we heard about this?’- they ask.” Lazerson adds that the public’s sense of shock is amplified when it learns that “upstanding” citizens and organizations in the United States “have been responsible for funding and speaking for the terrorist RENAMO group.” Up-to-date information about what is happening in Mozambique is available from Lazerson at the support group cited above.