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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 July, 2004, 09:02 GMT 10:02 UK
DR Congo pygmies 'exterminated'
A pygmy
Pygmies are regarded as less than human by some Congolese
The International Criminal Court is being urged to investigate "a campaign of extermination" against pygmies in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

An international human rights group, says it is presenting a dossier to the ICC in The Hague on Tuesday containing compelling witness statements.

Minority Rights Group International say they have gathered evidence of mass killings, cannibalism and rape.

The ICC say their most urgent task is to pursue DR Congo's war criminals.

More than 600,000 pygmies are believed to live in the DR Congo's huge forests, where they survive by hunting wild animals and gathering fruits.

However, many Congolese regard them as "subhuman" with some believing their flesh can confer magical powers.

Horror

"There have been systemic rapes and killings on a huge scale," the group's director, Mark Latimer, told the BBC's Network Africa.

He is calling on ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo to charge those responsible.

One witness they spoke to survived the late night massacre of an entire village. He said that everyone was shot and hacked to death and the huts were burnt.

"This level of quite horrific violence which has been perpetrated against the pygmies is part, or was part, of a campaign aimed at exterminating them," he said.

He identified the rebel group, the Movement for the Liberation of Congo, which is part of the transitional government and still controls much of the north, and their allies, as being behind much of the violence against the pygmies.




SEE ALSO:
DR Congo pygmies appeal to UN
23 May 03  |  Africa
'Flesh-eating bug' hits pygmies
06 May 04  |  Africa


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