Congo

Congo: Human rights education for pygmies underway in Sangha Region

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BRAZZAVILLE, 26 February (IRIN) - A four-day human rights seminar and cultural festival for indigenous populations began on Tuesday in the town of Ouesso, in the Sangha Region of northern Republic of Congo.
The initiative, led by the Association pour les Droits de l'Homme et l'Univers Carceral (ADHUC) and supported with a grant of 6,551,300 francs CFA (US $11,233) from the US embassy in Brazzaville, seeks to reach both Bantu and indigenous populations - commonly referred to as pygmies.

ADHUC said the involvement of Bantu populations in the outreach efforts was significant as research - including studies conducted by ADHUC in September 2002 - had shown that pygmies were often subjected to flagrant human rights violations by Bantus, who often regarded the pygmies as "subhuman".

Primary themes to be addressed include the right to education and health care; the right to be registered at birth as a citizen, to vote, and to be elected to public office; the right to equal pay; the right to cultural identity; and the fight against discrimination and exploitation of pygmies.

Also on the programme of activities is a Bantu versus pygmy football match, a skit on the rights of minorities, cultural festivities and a communal meal.

In the coming weeks, ADHUC plans to conduct similar efforts in the towns of Impfondo in Likouala Region, Djambala in Plateaux Region, and Sibiti in Lekoumou Region.

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