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COMOROS: Anti-separatists allegedly tortured

JOHANNESBURG, 14 September 2000 (IRIN) - At least 24 opponents of the separatist administration on the island of Anjouan have been tortured, with eight among them sustaining serious injuries, local human rights groups charged on Thursday. According to an AFP dispatch which was not independently confirmed, most of the detainees belong to the GIRMA movement opposed to the secession of Anjouan, one of three Comoro Islands in the troubled Indian Ocean archipelago.

Quoting sources which requested anonymity for for fear of reprisals, it said the 24 had been rounded up between 28-31 August after four days of clashes between opponents and supporters of Anjouan’s separtist leader, Said Abeid Abderemane. The human rights groups told AFP that eight of the prisoners were in a “critical state.” They said that two of them, Antuaba Mohamed Latuf and her brother Abdallah Mohamed Latuf, had been admitted to hospital. Antuaba, who had been “beaten, shaved and raped,” tried to commit suicide in detention. The detainees also included Said Omar Chamasse, a leading opposition figure who wants Anjouan to become a French colony again.

Chamasse and his supporters strongly opposed a recent deal signed by Anjouan’s leader and the military government in the federal capital, Moroni, AFP said referring to the Fomboni declaration of 26 August giving each island control of most of its affairs, but leaving religion, citizenship, currency, foreign policy and defence in the hands of the new entity, whose institutions would be set up over 12 months. The Organisation of African Unity (OAU)has condemned the deal saying it undermined its sacrosanct principle of territorial integrity.

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[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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