Mr. HELMS. Mr. President, the disinformation campaign against Dr. Jonas Savimbi, President of the Union for the Total Independence of Angola [UNITA] rests on a number of incorrect assertions. Among the most persistent is the allegation that UNITA violates internationally recognized human rights, or that it brutalizes or intimidates its members.
Ambassador Herman Cohen, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, succinctly answered these charges during his confirmation hearings. Yet the crusade by supporters of the Communist Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola [MPLA] regime in Luanda continues to malign UNITA and Dr. Savimbi personally. The goal is to suggest that neither the movement or its leader are worthy of United States or African support or assistance.
An excellent article appeared recently in Human Events of October 28. The article is another important contribution to the overwhelming preponderance of evidence that exposes allegations of human rights violations as fabrications and falsifications.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that this fine article be printed in the Record in the hope that it will be a useful adjunct to ongoing debate.
There being no objection, the article was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
When Dr. Jonas Savimbi came to the United States to shore up his support in Congress and the Administration in early October, he was met with dependable opposition from the usual gaggle of left-wing groups and leaders, including Trans-Africa's Randall Robinson and Rep. Howard Wolpe (D.-Mich.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs' Africa subcommittee.
The chief weapon used to try to discredit the Angolan rebel leader was the charge--aired earlier this year by the New York Times and the London papers--that Savimbi has systematically engaged in human rights violations in the territory he controls, including the torture and murder of innocent victims.
Robinson, Wolpe and the Marxist-Leninist government of Angola, the MPLA, also circulated with great gusto an August 18 article from National Review, which mainly rehashed many of the allegations against UNITA's charismatic leader, but, coming from a conservative magazine, was viewed as particularly damaging.
When we interviewed Savimbi at his headquarters at The Grand Hotel in Washington on October 7, he emphatically denied all the accusations. But it turns out he has support from two more impartial entities: both the Senate and House Intelligence committees.
Rep. John Rowland (R.-Conn.), a member of the House Intelligence panel, told us that when the charges against Savimbi surfaced earlier this year, the committee was briefed by the intelligence community and that the allegations just `didn't hold up.'
Rowland imparted the same information to his colleagues on the House floor October 12. The Intelligence panel, he stressed, had looked at the various allegations against Savimbi `in depth' and that it had `found no information that substantiated allegations that have surfaced both in Europe and the United States that Dr. Savimbi has tortured or killed close associates.'
An allegation had popped up that he had killed Gen. Anthony Fernandez, for instance, but as fate would have it, said Rowland, `Fernandez appeared with Savimbi' on his October trip to the U.S.
Another charge is that Tito Chingunji was tortured by Savimbi, a charge `categorically denied' by Chingunji himself. In fact, said Rowland, several Republican lawmakers, including Reps. Dan Burton (Ind.), David Dreier (Calif.) and Norman Shumway (Calif.), `met with Tito shortly after the allegations surfaced. They found him to be in good health and very indignant that anyone would insinuate that he had been tortured.'
`Finally,' Rowland said, `there is an often repeated allegation that Dr. Savimbi had several individuals burned at the stake in 1983. This story also has not been substantiated.'
Rowland stressed to us that no member of the House Intelligence Committee, which includes such leftward tilting lawmakers as Rep. Stephen Solarz (D.-N.Y.) and Robert Kastenmeier (D.-Wis.), stood up to challenge his remarks in Savimbi's defense.
David Holliday, a special assistant to David Boren (D.-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Inteligence panel, echoed what Rowland told us. Over the past several years, he informed us, there have been `periodic charges against UNITA in general and Savimbi in particular, alleging everything from torture to murder.
`And the latest spate of them was several months ago. We did look at [the charges], as we had looked at them before. And we came to the same conclusion which was that we could not uncover any evidence that supported the charges.'
Holliday added, `We talked to everyone who we thought might have knowledge of such things, or who others brought to our attention as having such knowledge. We talked to people in this country and in Angola. And we simply did not come up with anything that supported them.'
The Senate Intelligence panel also has a passel of left-wingers, including Sen. Alan Cranston (D.-Calif.) and Howard Metzenbaum (D.-Ohio), but even they have not contradicted their own panel's findings.
There seems, in short, no reason anyone should buy into the theory that Savimbi is nothing but a totalitarian cutthroat unless far more persuasive evidence is presented.