Pygmies 'are hunted and eaten' in Congo

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PYGMY activists from Congo today demanded that the United Nations set up a tribunal to try government and rebel fighters accused of slaughtering and eating Pygmies during fighting in the northeastern corner of the country.

Army, rebel and tribal fighters - some believing the Pygmies are less than human or that eating their flesh would give them magic power - have been pursuing them in forests, killing them and eating their flesh, according to claims. There have even been reports of market stalls for Pygmy flesh, being set up.

Sinafasi Makelo, a representative of the Mbuti Pygmies in Congo, said: "In living memory, we have seen cruelty, massacres, genocide, but we have never seen human beings hunted and eaten literally as though they were game animals, as has recently happened.

"Pygmies are being pursued in the forests . . . people have been eaten," said Makelo, a delegate to the UN permanent forum on indigenous issues, which is meeting at UN headquarters.

About 600,000 Pygmies are believed to live in Congo. Africa’s third-largest country is emerging from a four-year civil war.

Among the original inhabitants of Congo, the Pygmies live deep in northeastern forests, eking out an existence as hunter gatherers.

Earlier this year, human rights activists and UN investigators confirmed that tribal fighters and members of one rebel group killed, cooked and ate at least a dozen Pygmies during fighting.